Grab a nice cup of tea, a latte or whatever your favorite beverage may be and get comfortable—I am going to tell you a story that will reassure you that you are not the worst mother in the world.
At least at Easter time.
Three years ago, on an early spring Saturday afternoon, my 9 1/2-year-old daughter, Camille, and I were watching TV together. We'd been outside all day at a beautiful, historic estate, marching around the property's nature trail while getting in some great outdoor, parent-child bonding time.
Camille had been saying things like, "I know when I am a parent, I will ask the Easter Bunny to give my children a present along with their chocolate eggs," and, "Do you think that the Easter Bunny will bring me a giant cream-filled egg this year? I just love cream-filled eggs."
These hints continued into the later afternoon, as we sat watching a cooking show together. So, as we were sitting there on the couch, I looked at Camille, and maybe it was because I was tired from our day's adventures, or maybe it was because I was temporarily insane, but I said to her, "OK now, Camille—we all know that you know that the Easter Bunny is not real."
The idea that I had put an end to her childhood innocence swept across me like a cold, sharp wind.
Lowest point in parenting, ever.
Camille looked at me for a few, very long seconds, then she blinked and blinked again. Then the tears came streaming down her cheeks.
Oh shit. Oh my God—what have I done?
"Oh no, Camille! You thought the Easter Bunny was real? I am so sorry. I truly thought you were kidding around with the hints about gifts and cream eggs ... " I held her hands and stared into her soft, brown eyes brimming with tears.
The idea that I had put an end to her childhood innocence swept across me like a cold, sharp wind; I shuddered. After a while, she sniffed and wiped away some tears.
"Camille, I am truly so very sorry. I thought you knew," I managed.
"It's OK, Mommy. Now I can help you with hiding the Easter eggs for the twins. That will be fun," she said. I just stared at her, then she reassured me, "Mommy—really, it's all right."
I sincerely did not know what to say, or how to repair the heartbreak I had caused. I can be so dense in that way, in damage control. So I just kissed her head and stroked her hair and snuggled her up closer as we watched the rest of our cooking show in silence.
After a few quiet moments, Camille looked up at me and was wiggling her most recently loose tooth. Then she said earnestly, "You know, this is all OK because maybe I will lose this tooth today and the tooth fairy will come before Easter. Then I'll never miss the Easter Bunny."