Perception: Yours Versus Theirs

Noticing the different ways people perceive the same event is fascinating to me.

For instance, today I had an experience that illustrates the point well.

To explain, I need to go back to last night. Victoria suddenly fell asleep on Daddy’s chest before suppertime. She had already had a long nap that day, so I immediately suspected something unusual. Sure enough, when she woke I noticed she had a high fever.

That night when I put her to bed, I was worried about what would develop next. She was SO hot, and I couldn’t fall asleep for checking her constantly. I tossed and turned for hours, scared I would miss something important. (She did wake up a few times talking in her sleep.)

Needless to say I slept late this morning, which was bad since Sadie had an appointment with the Naturopath at 10. Victoria seemed fine and was playing normally, so I figured she was okay.

It was around 8:30 by the time I dragged out of bed. I made breakfast and a pot of coffee and threw on the jeans that were still out and unfolded from the day before. I finished getting dressed, pulling on a faded but favorite shirt on, my fave red Ked knockoffs and topping it off with a casual black blazer in case there was an early morning chill.

Thankfully the kids all got themselves ready and by the time I remembered to dress the baby, big sis and Fashion Director Ilana (11) had dressed her down to diaper change, socks and shoes. (Thanks sweetie!) I put on mascara, a little foundation under my eyes and on my nose, and lipstick (at red lights).

We left in the nick of time and walked in the door at 10 on the nose. 20 minutes later as we were ready to leave, the Naturopath came out of her office and said to me:

“How do you do it? How do you show up here, on time, early in the morning, with all the kids, and looking so cute too… you even have your makeup and jewelry on!?”

I stood there, mouth agape, for a good 10 seconds or so (I’m really not good with compliments and often go into instant deflection mode, but seriously? My hair was two days overdue for a shampoo and I had done nothing but flatiron my bangs quickly and hope for the best, and my entire outfit was thrifted.).

What’s funny is that the Naturopath, whom we have dubbed Pippi Longstocking because of her red hair and affinity for striped tights, is quite stylish. I was totally shocked.

Then her office manager chimed in.

“Yeah, I was wondering the same thing!” and then began explaining what a “joy” my children are, and proceeded to regale me with horror stories of other people’s kids doing damage to the office.

“You really should teach classes. Your kids are so well-behaved.”

The point of this post is not to brag on myself.

It’s to illustrate how often our perception of ourselves is so different from other others see. 

In my mind, the picture was something like this:

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(Sadly, I do believe this is the single, solitary photo I have of myself during my last pregnancy. The kids were having a bit of fun with stick-on mustaches.)

But evidently, that’s not what other people saw. Has this ever happened to you?
I’ve been thinking about the implications of it since (this post has been in various stages of edit since last week).

About Carrie

Happy wife, homeschooling mom of 7 curious kiddos, autodidact, author, blogger, head chef, wanna-be French girl and barefoot walker. Residing just outside Atlanta, usually found reading a book.


  1. It usually happens to me at the meeting. My hair is dirty. I’m exhausted and feel irritable then a sister says your hair looks amazing. I’m thinking it’s filthy but thanks 🙂

  2. Thats sweet of them! You should have taken a picture! I get this too, we’ll be having a bad day behaviour wise (in my mind!) , and then people will say that the kids are so sweet and well behaved! Or I’ll think I look horrible and tired and hugely pregnant and someone will say I look so cute and wonderful.

  3. This has happened to so, so many times also and I’m always shocked! I’m like REALLY, I can hardly believe you are referring to me. And somehow the boys do usually act appropriately out in public, and I’m thinking wow you should see how they behave at home. Well, they are older now and well behaved young men and I’m very proud of them, but they still have their moods at home. I used to joke that if you wanted to find me in the grocery store follow the directions on the loud speaker in the store “clean up aisle 2, clean up aisle 4, etc.” although thankfully that never really happened. But don’t get me wrong their halos weren’t always on straight. Toodles, Barbi

  4. I feel the same when people comment on my kids’ behavior. I think, you should’ve seen them 10 minutes ago. LOL! But, I realize the fact that they can behave when they really need to (when people are watching) must mean the lessons are sticking. 😉

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