When I left my last full time teaching job, I got a letter from one of my dearest students. It was a three pager that said, among other things, how grateful she was that I still respected her even when no one else did, that I had been able to look past some of the stupid things she did and love her anyway. It was the kind of letter that makes me weep, that makes my heart overflow with pride and affection and joy and sadness, all at the same time. But this letter also made me feel a twinge of guilt.
Because in the beginning? I was mostly faking it.
Don't get me wrong. I don't give up on kids. It's just that this time I didn't have an overwhelming amount of confidence that this kid was really interested in being good. But I didn't let her know that. I pretended to have faith that she was more than her decisions.
And then a funny thing happened. I started to believe it. And then a funnier thing happened. She became the girl I'd pretended to believe she was, and she was such a joy and a help to me.
Now that I'm a full time mommy, there are days when I don't feel like doing what I have to do. Don't get me wrong, I love my daughter to the moon and back. We had absolutely no trouble with bonding or attachment. We are so attached. So. But that doesn't mean there aren't days when I'm just not feeling it.
When I have been up every 2 hours all night long and I don't want to play. When it's bedtime and she's squirming out of my arms but screaming when I put her down. When all I want is to drink my coffee, or read my book, or stay in bed.
So, I fake it. I pretend that I want to play with blocks, that I have a heartfelt desire to read Goodnight Moon. And I've been feeling guilty about that, like I'm a terrible mother for not really wanting to do those things, but when I re-read that letter, I'm reminded that maybe I shouldn't. Because sometimes, faking it is all it takes to really change someone's life.