I am very behind on blog reading, so I spent much of my morning catching up. Yesterday my wonderful friend Claudette wrote about belief, and how even though you KNOW something doesn’t exist, it’s Ok to still have a little bit of whimsy and hope. Her blog made me think about a story from a few years ago.
I belong to a book club in my apartment building. A few years ago we read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. First off- you must understand that this is one of my favorite books of all time. There was a point where I read this every year, my paperback copy, bought secondhand, literally fell apart from overuse. So, I love this book.
The book is about a very poor family in Brooklyn New York in the early 1900’s (it begins in the summer of 1912) Though many things are against her, the heroine, Francie just keeps going. Seriously- talk about persistence!
At one point the book talks about Christmas. The Mother character is tired of all the crap that life has thrown at her and she starts to feel down, and her mother tells her that you have to give the kids something to believe in- Santa Claus and whatever. I’m butchering the summary, but it’s really a beautiful scene and it reminds me of what Claudette wrote about. And in book club I talked about how much this scene meant to me.
One of the women in the book club told me that I was a bad Mother because I told my daughter about Santa Claus. And Santa Claus is fake, so I was essentially lying to my daughter. And As I lied to my daughter, my daughter was going to grow up with a distorted sense of reality and end up hating me because I fed her a bunch of lies while she was growing up…
Ask me how I felt about that…
I was being called a horrible Mother because I told my daughter about Santa Claus.
I sat there speechless (which you know is rare for me) and just stared at her. Then I wanted to say some less than flattering things. I really really wanted to tell her off. But as I sat there with my mouth open, I just felt sorry for her. I felt sorry for the person who felt so bad about herself she had to belittle another person. It was like she was on a mission to make me feel bad.
She crapped on my favorite book and my parenting skills.
But I wasn’t going to let her get the better of me.
Because I knew in my heart that I was raising my daughter in the best way I knew how, and maybe I made some parenting mistakes (as we all do), but telling my daughter about Santa Claus wasn’t one of them.
And I knew the underlying messages in the book got my through my adolescence. That book made me strong. That book probably helped me teach my daughter the lesson of perseverance and persistence. And what is perseverance and persistence? Belief. Belief in yourself. Believing that you will get through another day. Believing that even though it doesn’t seem possible, you need to have hope. Hope is what gets you through the day. You hope things will be better. And you plow on.
Hope and belief. It’s that simple.