After years of living with cracked tiles, a door that popped open at awkward moments, faucets that never completely turned off, and circa-1970 nonslip floor stickers, we finally remodeled our decrepit shower. The gentleman who did the work did an excellent job. His sales rep, hmmm, not so much: “It will be easy! It will be clean! We can do it all in a day!” I’m still finding dust and debris in odd places, and “Joe” (I’m not using his real name, ’cuz that’s not cool) was here for an exhausting 10.5 hours the first day, then returned for another 2.5 hours the next morning.
About three hours into it, Joe said to me in exasperation, “I don’t know why they tell customers we can do it in a day. These things always take at least a day and a half or two.”
Wouldn’t it have been a lot easier if the sales rep has just been honest? We could have planned ahead for two days of showering at the gym. Instead of having to cancel at the last minute, I could have scheduled meetings on different days. It certainly would have been easier on Joe, who had to bump other service calls and muck up other people’s busy lives.
And that got me thinking about other big lies I’ve heard in my life. A whopper came when I was a teenager and was experiencing debilitating menstrual cramps. My doctor, a very sweet man, said to me, “This is good. It will prepare you for childbirth so that labor pains will be a breeze.” I held onto his promise for the next 30 years while waiting to have my baby and experience the miracle of pain-free birthing. It’s not his fault that I didn’t get to have children. But I look back and wish someone had been straight with me, saying something like: “Don’t plan your dreams around the possibility of being a mom, because it might not happen. And these agonizing cramps? Yeah, they suck and life isn’t fair. Fill this prescription for pain killers and get over yourself.”
I know many of you have heard “I can make you pregnant!” “This procedure will work!” “It’s the miracle cure that will give you the baby you want!” But I wonder this: Would it have been any easier if someone had told us the truth upfront? Would we have listened and really heard it?
Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She’s mostly at peace with her decision to be childfree.