Tracy Lee Curtis

Personalized license plates are too personal

So I’m at a red light behind a very nice Lexus SUV – the kind of shiny car that says all is right with the world. And yet, the license plate reads “LORDYHLP.”

I get it. Trust me, I could easily have that message on my plate – and a flag flying from the antenna that reads, “I’m Failing Every Day” – and a giant banner running down the side of my car that screams, “I Have No Idea What I’m Doing!”

But I’m not gonna out myself like that. Yes, I’m trying to be perfect and it’s not working. But I don’t advertise it to the masses. I’m on the ‘fake it till you make it’ program. I give the appearance that I’ve got it under control. It’s the next best thing to the truth, and maybe over time I’ll actually get there.

So if I were going to personalize my plate, I’d go with “MOMROX.” No, I’m not rocking anything at the moment, but nobody has to know that. And this way, I stay positive, optimistic, in a reasonable amount of denial, while building confidence with my false sense of achievement.

The fact I overslept and am late getting kids to school doesn’t need to make the PTA newsletter. So I no longer race there in pajamas, I wear workout clothes. Which gives the impression I squeezed in a run before carpool, or at the very least, was busy getting ready for that cardio class I’m headed to. And who knows, maybe one day I’ll go.

Same with the grocery shopping. I don’t advertise that it’s been two weeks by loading a mountain of food into my cart. I pick one day to go, but then I go several times, just using one of those little baskets. So it looks like I’m thoroughly stocked at home, but just need to pick up a few things for dinner. Get a seafood seasoning, and people think you’re pan-searing fish. Seriously.

Change your hair, earrings, and scarf each day, and I promise you nobody at the office will realize you’re wearing the same black pants and white shirt. Your laundry schedule is not for public consumption.

And when folks drop by on short notice and the kitchen’s a wreck, pull out all your cookware, put it on the stove, turn on the burners, and use the empty cabinet to hide the dirty dishes, newspapers, dog bowl and shoes. It’ll appear totally clean. And that you’re cooking a four-course dinner.

The point is, nobody needs to know you need help, they only need to know you don’t appear to need any. The only time a mom should hang “LORDYHLP” on the back of her car is if she’s become trapped in the trunk.

But maybe she wasn’t driving her car. Maybe it was her husband’s car. In which case, that plate probably works.

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