Parenting brings out the best and the worst in us. It either reinforces things that you always knew about yourself, or brings to surface that that you wished would stay well hidden.
In my case, being a mother has turned me in to a big, fat liar.
More and more I find myself lying to avoid looks of censure, pity and shock.
Last month, a friend and I took a much needed break from our spouses and children and spent the weekend with another friend in a delightful town up North. It was wonderful. To wake up, not because there was a toddler poking me in the eye and simultaneously using my head as a trampoline, but because I wanted to. To drink hot coffee in peace without having to sing ‘The wheels on the bus’ on infinite loop. To not be a mother for forty eight hours. In short it was bliss. On returning home, I was asked by one and all if I had missed my son when I was away from him. I had to lie. And say yes. (So mom, husband, sister, friends if you’re reading this I didn’t miss him. Not one bit.) But when faced with the question I felt I couldn’t admit to the truth. It made me seem like a terrible mother. An uncaring woman who had upped and left her son, and then not regretted it one bit. It was the truth, but I didn’t want anyone else knowing that.
Fast forward to last week, when I spied an acquaintance of mine outside a local day care centre, tears in her eyes. Worried, I stopped and asked her if everything was alright. She sobbed that she had left her son for his first day care session and that she felt awful, guilty and terrible. She then trained her panda eyes on me and asked if I had felt this way when I left my son on his first day of nursery too. Without giving it a second thought, I nodded vigourously and said yes, my heart had broken in to a thousand pieces. When the truth was, I deposited him in the arms of his key worker and hot footed it out of there, desperate for my first few hours of peace and quiet in months. Veracity be damned.
I find that lying has become easier with time. Second nature almost. I can sympathise, cluck and coo with the best of them. I can wax lyrical about the joys of the toddler years, potty training and Baby Einstein. I can sigh good naturedly at my sons antics when in fact I would like to do nothing more than hit the pause button and render him still for a few minutes.
I wonder why I do this . I suppose it’s because if I tell the truth, I will feel the need to prefix my admissions with “I love my son but…” And I do not want to do that. Somehow it is easier to lie than to tell the truth and feel the need to justify myself.
But every now and then I wonder what would happen if I admitted to the fact that I despise toddler groups and Gymboree. That I can’t wait for my son to start full time school. And that no, I don’t feel sorry for him when he wakes up crying in the night, I feel sorry for myself thank you very much. I suppose I just have. May the repercussions begin.