By Paul Cameron
My mother lied to me. I suppose most mothers do tell lies to their children – convincing them by the time they shed diapers that they hang the moon in the sky.
Mine made me believe I was perfect – perfectly smart, perfectly good, perfectly kind and headed for greatness. It was a time when people actually wanted to grow up to be president.
Imagine that. She told me she didn’t care what I did in life; I just had to find my direction, put my heart and soul in it, and it would come true. My mother’s philosophy closely resembled Jiminy Cricket’s.
I’ll never forget the first time I realized my mother was my mom. I was about 3. She was outside on a warm spring day, the wind gently blowing her long, dark hair and ruffling her bright sundress as she hung laundry on the line. I thought, “That’s her – the woman who adores me. I can do no wrong as long as she’s around.”
Several years later, I tried to conjure up that image as she stood over me with a fly swatter, threatening my backside for doing a “Caddyshack” on her roses with my new scout hatchet. I was no Cinderella boy at that moment.
Throughout my life, my mother’s lies never wavered. I was always “the best.” And because she made me believe it, I just knew I couldn’t disappoint her. I had to live up to her definition of perfection. It wasn’t easy. The pre-med classes in college convinced me I was nowhere near 100th best. Okay, the doctor bit wasn’t in the cards. Lawyer? Too much Latin. Broadcasting? Well, I could talk and pronounce Chopin correctly, so I got the job announcing classical music pieces on an FM radio station. To my mother, this was perfection. Once again in my life, I felt I could do no wrong.
After college, I was cursed by the affliction known as television. I felt the spotlight and knew it was my calling. But becoming a weekend TV sportscaster wasn’t exactly the “greatness” my mother had envisioned for my life, I’m sure. Again she lied, telling me how wonderful it was her son had reached the top of the professional heights. I always thought she secretly wished I would pull a “Ronnie Reagan” and ditch the sportscasting for something with more pizzazz.
It took 20 years, but when I moved out of sports to the news anchor chair, once again Mom was delirious with delight. “The start of something even bigger,” she boasted.
Along the journey of my more than half a century of life, I have learned a few truths associated with my mother’s lie: that her blind love and devotion for me is the essence of what we all want for all our children, and that we cannot leave the job of parenting to chance. Kids will aspire to something better if they start with a positive self image.
The father of two, I can speak from experience. Tell your children they are
great. If you need to, lie to them. Give them pride. Give them confidence. Make them live up to something better.
The Romans were right, you know; tempus does indeed fugit. The time
between the image of my mother in her sundress and present day is a blink of the eye.
She’s no longer with us. Her death a few years ago came much too soon and
left me with a great chasm in my soul that will never be filled. I’m sure there are many of you feeling the same this Mother’s Day.
If only she could lie to me again.
Paul Cameron is a news anchor with WBTV 3.