Dear children of mine,
I’m lying to you. All the time.
I just put you down for your nap, and as I tucked you in I promised that I would not do anything fun while you are sleeping. I said I was going to take a nap too. I lied. I’m eating chocolate chips and watching TV.
I lied when I told you the cookies were all gone. They weren’t, you had just eaten too many and I didn’t have the energy to discuss it any further. Don’t worry, I will just so happen to find some more after dinner tonight.
I lied when I said your favorite toy had to go visit Santa’s workshop, and when I promised he would bring you the exact same one back soon. Really, it just broke and a new one will be here in two days via Amazon Prime.
I also lied when I told you the scientific name of that bird was “brown and white stripey birdie.” It’s not, but you weren’t satisfied with, “I don’t know, it’s either a finch or a sparrow, but I’m not sure which from this distance.” We’ll just go with stripey birdie instead.
There are times I don’t lie, and I just skirt the truth a bit, even though I wish I could. Like the time one of you asked me if I was going to die. I told you, “don’t worry, I will be here with you for a very long time.” And then I thanked God you didn’t ask me the natural follow up, if you were going to die too. And I know at some point you will ask me if Santa is real, and I hope to have a beautiful answer about magic, and St. Nicholas and the hope and belief that lives inside us, but I’m pretty sure I will fumble my way through it just like I do the rest of parenting. I hope you can forgive me for that one. Don’t ask until you’re at least twelve.
Take comfort in the fact your Dad doesn’t lie. He just says, “go ask your mama.” At least, I assume that’s what he said right before you came running out of the room, after reading a Christmas book with a very pregnant Mary in it, yelling, “Mama! How did I get in your belly?”
There are other times I lie, and I wish I didn’t have a need to re-write the truth. Like the other day, when I tried to watch the news and the helicopter camera was showing images of a police standoff following yet another mass shooting. You asked me what I was watching, and I said, “a show about trucks,” and quickly turned it off. You both proceeded to play with trucks for the rest of the afternoon, and I lied to myself instead, saying it will all be okay.
There are a few reasons I lie. One is because it’s a ridiculously easy parenting method. I could pretend like I’m better than that, but I’m not.
The other is to protect you from a world that I don’t yet want you to know exists. A world of pain, disappointment, and scary things. I can honestly tell you there are no monsters in your closet, but that’s as far as I can truthfully reassure you. I don’t want to you to know that yet, and so I lie.
Wait. That’s not entirely true either.
I’m lying to buy time. I’m hoping by the time you two are old enough to learn the truth about the world, it will be a better place. I probably still won’t have learned the name of that stripey birdie, but hopefully there will be a little more peace, a little more justice, and a little more hope in the world. I’m working as hard as I can to make that so. And that’s the truth.