This post was inspired by Zoie’s post, “I Am A Fake,” on her blog, TouchstoneZ.
When I was pregnant with my second child, I would wake up before my three-year-old and try to write or read or just have a mug of tea before being “on” for the day. Invariably, I’d have just sat down at the kitchen table with my book or my journal or a steaming cup when she toddled bleary-eyed into the kitchen and said, “Good morning, Mommy!”
I would sigh and glare at her. I would give her a monotone “Good morning.” Then I would feel awful about myself. I did not like being this mom. I did not like greeting my daughter in a way that made it clear I really didn’t want to see her. She was my sweet girl, and I was a wicked, awful mommy.
So I decided to fake it.
The next morning when the world outside the window was still dark and my tea was still untouched and my daughter came into the kitchen, I put on a smile. I got up from the table and precariously knelt my bulbous body down to her level to give her a hug. I told her, “Good morning! I’m so happy to see you!”
The first few weeks that I did this, my daughter would stand with her arms at her sides while I hugged her, looking at me sideways from under her furrowed brow.
We both knew I was faking it.
At first I felt even worse about myself. I was faking being happy to see my child. What kind of a mother was I? Why could I not feel happy to see my daughter? And worse, I was in the process of bringing another baby into this family to experience my reprehensible parenting.
But I kept it up because I figured since it was a choice between pantomiming happy and expressing authentic unhappy, I’d rather be a big faker.
And then something amazing happened. One morning, my daughter came into the kitchen as usual, but this time when I said, “Good morning! I’m so happy to see you!” I really felt happy to see her. My smile was a real smile. I hugged her with tears in my eyes. I still hadn’t had a chance to write, but in this moment I was happy to see my daughter.
Five years later, I no longer have to kneel when I hug my daughter good morning; I just stand upright and rest my cheek on the top of her head, but most mornings I still really mean it when I say I’m happy to see her and her brother. On days when I start to droop when I hear their footsteps in the hallway, I stop myself and think, Why not be happy to see my kids? Because I didn’t get done everything I wanted to before they woke up? There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to feel like I’ve finished everything I want to, anyway, so why not just let it not happen and let myself feel happy for the sweet little distractions I have for these few years?
So each morning I give my children and myself the gift of a hug and smile and an enthusiastic greeting. Then no matter where the day goes from there, at least we’ve started on a high note.
Have you ever faked it ’til you made it?
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