All lies are not created equal
January 17, 2017
I asked my boy the other day if he had any ideas about topics for my blog, as I’m happy to gather inspiration from as many sources as possible. His reply, “How ’bout mommy loves daddy in a different way?”
My face must have betrayed me once again, because he quickly declared his idea as “weird” and attempted another.
That idea, weird as it may be, was one that caught my immediate attention. And a good way to enter into a short discussion on “The things we tell children in order to explain other things that are both difficult to explain and difficult to understand.”
I’ll begin with the topic idea my son brought up for an example.
Mommy loves daddy, but in a different way.
I remember saying this sentence to my son a while ago, a year or two perhaps, and it was just as uncomfortable then as it is recalling it now. The interaction, small as it was, obviously had an impact on him or he wouldn’t have held onto it. It went something like this:
Corbin: Why don’t you love daddy anymore?
Me (stammering): Oh, honey, I love your daddy… but in a different way. (Liar!)
At that particular point in time what I meant (and what I was thinking) was, That mother-fucker! The only thing I love about him is the One that managed to get through! And now I have the most wonderful gift in all of God’s creation, my sweet little boy.
I didn’t feel terrible about not speaking the truth to a four-year old. I felt terrible that what I said couldn’t have been further from the truth. There is a difference.
I can admit that it may have been wiser to word my response differently, but I wasn’t as crafty then, nor as smart as I feel I am currently. That could change at any given moment, however.
Could I have said something different? Sure as shit! Could I have told him the truth? No, absolutely not! Why? Because he was four and if I said, “I hate your father! He’s a wicked person who devoured my soul, and that is why we don’t live together and I do not love him!” I would have considered myself a monster, and I am not a monster…mostly.
These days I’m more adamant about telling my sweet boy the truth, especially the convenient truth. Not everything true is acceptable, some may seem flat-out wrong, but those are often the facts we should share. I’m going to stick with the convenient truth until it is necessary to elaborate.
The convenient truth is something that is easy to explain, easy to digest and easily understood. So, when my son says, “I wish you loved daddy.” I can say, “I know, sweet boy, me too. But sometimes people are better when they are not with each other, but that doesn’t mean we love you less.” Convenient and true.
What makes things really, really difficult is when the mother-fucker decides to stop calling (not that he ever really did) stops texting to set up meeting times and completely stops answering the phone for his son. It’s the absolute worst. And there are no “convenient truths” to be told in the wake of this mayhem.
It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do, try to explain to a child that their father is sick and twisted and to tell him that I just don’t know. This scenario is harder to cope with and continually experience than when I first tried to get clean and sober.
So, my boy decided last night that he wanted to try calling his dad, again, for the eighth or tenth time since November. I agreed, even though I already knew what would happen.
My sweet boy would dial the number excitedly, wait while it rang six times, and when it finally reached voicemail, he would show every ounce of hurt and disappointment on his sweet, innocent face for a moment before hanging up without leaving a message.
Then, I would have to come in and pick up the pieces of his heart that had just been shattered all over the universe again, all while wishing I knew a Voodoo curse to set that fucker’s ass on fire.
Unfortunately, it went down just as I anticipated it would. I wish (more than wanting a Voodoo curse) that I could have been wrong that time. I wish my son’s father cared enough to answer the phone, but I can’t make him something he isn’t. I’ve never wanted to be wrong so badly as in that moment.
It is miserable to lie to your kids, but sometimes it is equally as miserable to tell the truth. No matter how much we want to protect them from being hurt, sometimes we are simply unable to prevent it, And especially when the people they look to for protection are the ones causing the most hurt.
Sometimes, the truth is painfully necessary to grow and overcome. That lesson is one my boy is becoming more familiar with every day. All I can do is love him and help him heal.
2 thoughts on “Convenient Truth”
A wonderfully realistic write Erin. It’s true, eventually the truth as is has to be placed before the kids. My personal experience also suggests that covering up for the other parent somehow does not really work for very long and it usually backfires on you like a 24 gun salute. I have seen when you pull them back for reasons you can’t explain to them, they tend to push further to try and prove you wrong – I guess it’s the natural instinct that if one parent is okay how can the other be so off! Anyway, once they do get a little dose of hurt, and it is really painful to see them like that, they tend to make peace within themselves.
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Thank you for your kind words and sharing your experience and insight. It is so appreciated. My covering for the other parent was becoming one exhausting, never-ending trial and I could see it already beginning to backfire on me through my son’s emotions and frustration. He has been much more secure since I stopped trying to hide the ugly truth, and while it is so difficult to watch him in pain, I know I’m doing the right thing and I can see him trying to make his peace within.
Thank you, again.
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