I became a mother in 2005, and again in 2007, and I’ve always promised my children that as long as they’re honest with me, everything else can be worked out. But the truth is, I haven’t always been so honest with them. There are the fun lies. And the helpful lies. The protective lies. And of course, the ‘I can’t deal with this question now’ lies. In fact, there may have been days when I’ve hardly been honest at all.
So as I release my debut novel – A Mother Never Lies – I thought it might be therapeutic to share some of the lies I’ve told over the years.
The magical lies
There are some lies that simply must be told. ‘Father Christmas flies his sleigh around the world and delivers presents to 2 billion children in one night. And the tooth fairy delves under your pillow and exchanges your tooth for a coin (Isabelle got £2? Well, her fairy must come from a different tribe, darling).’
My children are now too old to believe in Father Christmas (or have any milk teeth left) but they still hang a stocking on Christmas Eve, leave a mince pie for Santa, and shout, ‘He’s been!’ at the tops of their voices on Christmas morning.
The time lies
Depending on whether I was drinking a cup of tea or a glass of wine, ‘Kids, we’re leaving in five minutes,’ could mean departing in anything from a quarter of an hour to the next morning. There were other time lies too. A midnight swim took place at 10 p.m. Long car journeys always took ‘about an hour’ and any pre-7 a.m. wake-ups were automatically classed as the middle of the night (thank you, black-out blinds).
The food lies
Where do I start? Carrots help you see in the dark. Green beans make you tall and spinach gives you muscles. Every meat is chicken. Fish is also chicken, unless it’s fishfingers. There are no vegetables in this (pureed vegetable) sauce. And no, Mummy has not just shoved a chocolate bar into her mouth…
The performance lies
My daughter is a wonderful singer, and my son an impressive sportsman. But that still leaves many holes in the talent bucket that I’ve filled over the years with lies. I’ve been enthralled over paintings of sea life (or dinosaurs? Maybe space aliens?) and belly laughed at jokes with no punch line. I’ve whooped last place on Sports Day and dismissed fluffed lines in plays with promises that no one will have noticed. And I’ve told my daughter she looks fabulous – at every stage of her personal style journey.
There were many things that made me cry when my children were little – with them probably sitting at the top of the list. So I spent years cutting illusionary onions and moaning that my hayfever lasted all year. There were other lies designed to protect them too – when they overheard a conversation they shouldn’t have, or caught a glimpse of the news at the wrong time.
Protecting who exactly…?
Now that my children are older, my protective lies appear to be on shakier moral ground. Does my 16-year-old need to know what I was doing on a Friday night at her age? Not really. Will it help my 14-year-old to know why I was excluded from my chemistry class? Probably not.
On reflection, it appears that I have spent the last sixteen years telling porkies to my children, so it feels appropriate to end this blog piece by misquoting Walter Scott. ‘Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when we practice to conceive…’
Huge thanks to Sarah Clarke, author of the gripping thriller A Mother Never Lies, for this fantastic blog post! You can get your copy of this twisty debut novel for just 99p in eBook now!