We’re all trying to be good role models for our kids, right? Well, sometimes that means pretending to be a little better than we are. In fact, sometimes it means downright deceit. Below, 13 things all moms hide from their kids.
1. Chocolate. Or any other treat you know your kid will demand a portion of or, even worse, all of. I know moms who’ve stepped into the kitchen during bath time, crammed half a candy bar into their mouths and sped back to supervising the bath, trying not to visibly chew. I have skittered sideways past my kids’ room at night with a pint of ice cream pressed to my thigh so I can eat in peace in front of the television.
2. Hangovers. I feel guilty enough about the occasional night out that I generally try to hide my splitting headache under a veil of false cheer. “Yes, sweetie!” I say, gripping the kitchen sink and fumbling around for a glass of water. “How about a little Sesame Street for you, honey?” I say, groping my way along the counter for an Advil.
3. A temper. Children can make you crazy. I often feel my temper fraying like the last shred of elastic on a pair of old yoga pants. But if we lost our temper at every battle, we’d never stop freaking out. I really hope my kids never find out how hair-trigger my temper really is.
4. Fear. Oh, you name it, we’re afraid of it—car accidents, backyard pools, school shootings. Frankly, we try to hide it from ourselves as well as our kids.
5. Our own shortcomings. One of the great ironies of raising kids is that we’re struggling to raise good kids—kids who are kind and patient, smart and hardworking, when we ourselves might be falling, uh, a wee bit short on that. I’ve adopted a “fake it till you make it” strategy, with the understanding that I’ll probably never actually make it on the “patient and kind front.” Or for that matter, “smart and hardworking.”
6. Our marital struggles. Who hasn’t had a whispered fight behind closed doors?
7. Hypocrisy. I regularly tell my kids “too much dessert isn’t good for you” as I firmly push the memory of my apple-cider donut binge out of my mind.
8. Our phones. Look, who hasn’t sat in the bathroom checking Facebook and then stuffed the phone down her pants upon exiting?
9. Our sex lives. “Mommy and Daddy are taking a nap, honey!” we call out frantically as the toddler rattles the bedroom door, praying we remembered to lock it.
10. Horrible noisy toys. “Screechy Monkey? I don’t know where he is!” I’ll say innocently about a grinning, drum-playing monkey I’ve dismembered and set out with the trash.
11. Our own screen time. Like most conscientious parents, I try to limit my kids’ screen time. My own, however, well, it’s a good thing they go to bed early or they’d never forgive me.
12. Where the Halloween candy is. For a while, we had a rule that they could have a piece or two a day until it was gone. But my son’s hauls were so epic that it meant he wouldn’t finish one year’s worth of candy for three years. And so Halloween candy gradually disappeared, first to a holding area in a high cabinet, and then to various destinations like the trash or our stomachs depending on whether it was gross fruit leather or lovely malted milk balls.
13. Our true feelings about various family members. Auntie Jean, who’s made several ill-advised cracks about our housekeeping, our work schedule or lack thereof, our cooking and other things? Yeah, Auntie Jean is kind of an asshole. But our kids love her, and for that reason alone, we’ll stand in the kitchen biting into a dishcloth rather than give her a piece of our mind over the Thanksgiving table.
As much as we want to be open and honest with our children, we deserve to have private lives too. Privacy sometimes means a lie or two, even if I feel bad about them. As I’m writing this I’m hiding a bowl of caramel popcorn that I told my kids was finished long ago. And frankly, I can’t wait for Halloween. Let the lies begin!