Parenting is an interesting exercise in examining your priorities. You can have really strong ideas about how you will approach a particular issue. Infant sleep for example. And then your child comes along and upends all your notions. You think the idea of “sleep-training” by letting your child cry sounds barbaric and awful and will definitely emotionally damage you and your child. And then your child will not sleep for longer than half an hour at a time at night for the first eight months of his life unless he’s sleeping in your bed, and boy are you tired and achy, and you just can’t stand it anymore.
So you decide that, really, letting your child cry will not kill either of you. And after a terrible week, your child learns how to put himself to sleep.
The most recent example of this shifting of priorities in my life has to do with Santa Claus.
One of the things I thought before I had kids was: I am not going to lie about Santa. No judgment implied of anyone who lets their child believe in Santa. It was just that as someone who believes in God (and someone who is not Christian, but celebrates Christmas in a mixed-faith household), I felt uncomfortable with the deity-like attributes Santa has acquired. The idea of teaching my children, once they reached a certain age, to disbelieve made me uncomfortable.
My husband didn’t feel the same way. But as is his wont, he humored me and let me have my opinion.
Now, meet my four-year-old son, N. He adores all things Christmas. He loves any celebration, really, but Christmas especially. He has already started losing sleep thinking about the holiday. We have been having great fun putting up our tree and decorating the house and wrapping presents.
And he believes in Santa.
If I say, Santa isn’t real, N thinks about it and disagrees. Because he’s seen Santa, in the mall.
If I reveal that I fill N’s stocking every year, he thinks about it and seems a bit befuddled and concerned. Because, why doesn’t Santa fill my stocking, he seems to be thinking, when he fills up all the other kids’ stockings?
Truly, I don’t mind that N believes in Santa. It’s more an issue of my own beliefs–I’m not so good at hiding them, as you can see.
And it occurs to me that in the future he may believe other things I don’t. And I want to always be the kind of parent who lets him have those beliefs.