Mommy’s Little Secret

Ottawa, May 2015

Ottawa, May 2015

Mark is an exceptional human being. A very special snowflake, the smartest and cutest kid around. From the minute I was pregnant (of course, I knew right away we had conceived!), I realized how lucky…—I was going to write “blessed” but as an atheist… oh, never mind—, truly blessed I was to carry this wonderful child. I spent nine blissful months in tune with my body and the baby’s needs, welcoming advice from helpful strangers and nesting. Once Mark was born, every single minute we spent together has been extremely fulfilling and I could never get enough of him.

What? No, I’m not drunk or stoned! I’m not possessed either, thanks for asking.

I’m just… you know, revisiting history. Let’s call it a “motherhood revisionism” exercise. Oh, fuck off, I won’t be the first one to tweak facts! Don’t get me start on media, governments, companies and selective omission. Eh, if it’s written, approved and published, it must be true, right?

So from now on, no more cursing, no more “this is me on motherhood, please take my kid away from me, I need a coffee or something stronger”.

I’m paranoid.

Mark is “reading”.

Don’t blame me, I can’t afford therapy. Oh, I can already picture the scene… Mark is jumping on a black leather couch, the expensive designer kind, not the latest IKEA model. The shrink, Sigmund, is sitting in a chair. “My mother hated being pregnant.” “Uh uh… easy on the couch, please.” “She also wrote she needed a break from me. Many times.” “Uh uh… can I have your banking information?” “Mommy said watching me play at the park was boring.” “Uh uh… let’s analyze this…”

I can’t let this happen.

Okay, Mark isn’t really reading yet. But it’s coming. And with my luck… I mean, given my amazing popularity, he is going to find my blog (he already browses my Flickr account to see “Mark’s pictures”) and he will learn everything.

Like, everything.

Honesty is so overrated.

Mark discovered numbers last winter and now he is obsessed with letters. He reads them out loud, one by one. Constantly. He spells out everything he sees—license plates, street signs, my t-shirts…

And of course, he loves books.

Before, reading to Mark was me holding the book and making up a story that fit my needs based on the pictures. Bedtime routine? Perfect, the characters gets ready to go to bed. I rarely followed the script, I adapted based on Mark’s vocabulary. And also, it’s hard to read when Mark is blocking half of the sentences with his fingers.

Now, reading, let’s say, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” goes like this:






“No, it’s a ‘L'”.


“Because it’s… lowercase? Never mind. It’s a ‘L’, trust me, I’ve seen those many times.”



“Okay, the next word is the same, let’s move on…”

“No! T… W…I…”

You get the picture.

Of course, reading is complex process and Mark is only starting the adventure. He is decoding symbols but has yet to process and understand them. For instance, to him, two “ll” are the number “11” and he still find lowercase and uppercase confusing—”why?” he asked, when I swore “B” and “b” were the same thing.

With literacy comes knowledge, independence, critical thinking. I learned to read when I was three and a half and I clearly remember how, suddenly, the world made sense. A shop wasn’t just boring aisles and eye-level displayed products my mum wouldn’t buy. There were letters and words everything. That kept me entertained!

This was Mark at the supermarket the other day. He grabbed a cereal box and I braced myself for the fight. “A, B, C!” he read aloud. Sure enough, the box did say “A, B, C”. Okay, it was an easy one.

In a not-so-distant future, he will recognize words, understand sentences.

Maybe one day he will find my blog, if he can remember that my name is not “mommy”. The thought of it is strange. Before we found it entertaining to share slices of life with complete strangers were diaries, little notebooks safely hidden in a drawer. No one were supposed to read them. Especially not kids.

I’ve always been honest with Mark. Oh, sure, I trick him once in a while—the cookies aren’t actually sleeping, between us. But I usually tell him the truth. Yes, mommy is mad right now, yes, daddy is a little bit sick, yes, mommy is tired, no we don’t do that now, yes, we will go tomorrow. Yes, this hurts a little bit but not for long.Yes, this feeling is unpleasant, no this dog doesn’t want to play, yes there are chips here and no you can’t have them.

On the plus side, Mark seems to trust me. I don’t break promises. If I say we go to whatever place tomorrow, I actually take him there. If I say sometime doesn’t hurt, it truly doesn’t (unless he has nerves in his hair…?).

The downside is, well, reality is sometime unpleasant. People argue, fight, cry and you don’t always get what you want. Sometime, life isn’t fair. Sometime, people are strange. Sometime, it doesn’t make sense.

I hope Mark realizes that I love him, even if parenthood has been a roller-coaster and an adventure. I hope that by the time he is old enough to read something I wrote (and don’t forget to click on the ads honey, thanks!), he will see the love through the sarcasms, the occasional rants and the overall cluelessness.

“Mommy, what’s this?”

“This is… Word. I’m typing, see? Don’t touch the screen, your fingers are all sticky!”

“Mark writes.”

Or maybe he will write his own blog and bitch about me. So that we will be even.


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Dearest Zhu,
    I do hope that Mark will have the chance to read your witty and intelligent blog one day. And he will see that his mother is a human being (a fantastic one) who sometime struggle but who truly loves him. Because if one thing is crystal clear in your posts is that you love him like crazy and you do your best, everyday.
    Is it “perfect” (whatever that means)? Probably not always. But it is beautiful and inspiring to witness <3
    Thank you.

  2. Great post! Perhaps bookmark this one for him to read before the others. You’ve had like your frustrations like all mothers have, but never has the feeling come across that you’ve regretted becoming one, and it’s clear that you care about him a lot and have fun spending time together. You treat him like a real person. Nothing like a mom’s love.

    • No, I don’t think I ever regretted the adventure and I (we) made the conscious choice to become parents. As cheesy as it sounds, I can’t imagine life without him, although yes, it would be easier on the practical side at times.

  3. I think I already commented on this issue before, about the possibility of Mark several years later reading what you have been writing.

    It shouldn’t always be stellar: as you know, humans have “good” sides and “bad” sides. Sometimes we’re happy, sometimes we’re sad. And as with any relationship, including a mother-son relationship, there are ups and downs. I am sure Mark will see it that way and fully appreciate the sacrifices you’ve done in order to raise him.

  4. Martin Penwald on

    Qui aime bien châtie bien. En ce qui concerne les châtiments corporels, tu es plutôt fouet ou barre à mine ?

  5. A good one, and I have thought about this. In fact your stories put my mother in a different light. I love her. I understand she would have been in similar state, most probably.

  6. I used to fear the day my kids figured out I had a blog, but it actually turned out okay. A couple of years ago I printed out all my blog posts in a book – I wanted them for myself, but the kids ended up loving it and they like reading little tales about themselves. Even the “bad” stuff – the complaining and the dark days and the admitting I’ve been a sucky parent – they find funny, or they actually feel badly for me and come give me a hug. I think it’s been worth it for them to really know who I was, and what I was feeling, and what parenting is really like. I don’t THINK they are taking it personally…but we haven’t hit the therapy years yet :).

    • You seem to be very close to your kids, and from what I’ve read, you’re pretty honest with them. So it probably didn’t feel like they were discovering a shocking truth… and I’m hoping it will be the same for Mark!

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