Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chronic Cognitive Dissonance - Or Welcome To My World

Mollie writes:

"...Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding contradictory ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational driveto reduce dissonance. They do this by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and actions.[2] Dissonance is also reduced by justifying, blaming, and denying. It is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology. . . ."  (

First, a big thank you to Wikipedia.  That's just about the best definition of my normal mental state during the mommy years.  I suspect that most parents go through stages of cognitive dissonance frequently in their lives.

Never let it be said that a Liberal Arts education is a waste.  Not only can I say "Do you want fries with that" in several languages, but I have a fancy-schmancy way of saying that I was in a perpetual state of confusion during my active mothering years.  This didn't keep me from making any mistakes parenting, as you can well guess.  It's just that I had to continually adjust my thinking to what we were experiencing as a family as our kids were growing up.

I think that the Mothering Mantra should be reasonableexpectations droned over and over.  You can't count the amount of times I've had to adjust my expectations to reality rather than to my ditzy idealism formed in the sixties and seventies.  And yes, this granola-crunching-baby-boomer-yuppie had her share of ditzy idealism.  It took me years to realize that it's nice to have ideals, but reality tends to hammer things into submission.  What I mean is that it would be nice to eat together as a family every night, but some nights, with soccer, hubby's travel, mom's book club, etc. family dinners are not always possible.  So go with the flow!

I believed that if you just took it easy, things would work out.  That looks nice on a sampler, but, frankly, sometimes stressing out IS a good thing.  Had I not stressed out when Roger had his seizures, I might not have made it to the ER as quickly.  There's something about adrenaline that just cancels calm action.  But I firmly believe that God gave us adrenaline for a reason, and it's usually to save our miserable keesters in times of trouble.

I swore I would never lie to my kids, but, frankly I often lied to them.  "Do you like this Transformer" was often answered with "'s awsome..." when the truth was closer to "...we wasted $19.99 on THAT?..."  Couple that with "Did you like Jurassic Park," (frankly, sweetie, it sucked)  "Do you like my purple hair," (no, I do not like your purple hair) or "Isn't macaroni and cheese the best" (only if vomit is second best) and you will have an idea how I had to deal with that area of cognitive dissonance constantly for twenty-some years.

But in the end, we manage to survive our own hypocrisies.  We never learn to love sci-fi (it just doesn't work for me), purple hair (gone when getting a job was a priority) or macaroni and cheese (nary a box has been in my house for 10 years now), but we learn to modify our stands on issues that just aren't critical.  The ultimate coming of age comes when we learn to deal with ourselves and how we function in the real world.

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