Believing in Believing

A few days ago, I got my amalgams removed by a holistic dentist who told me in a very Irish accent that my spiritual beliefs would get me through heavy metal detox, healing my methylation issues and changing my epigenetic status. So this along with the impending end of the Mayan calendar and a need to make a plan around both the Santa issue and the real Christmas story lead to a lively talk with my husband about where our beliefs are as a family.

I was raised on a mixture of something close to Christian Science and pseudo New Ageism with a little Buddhism thrown in. In the past when I felt that I needed a name for it, I would incorrectly use the term gnostic. This is particularly funny in light of the fact that I married an agnostic. My husband is the son of a physicist, and I (mostly) love the way his mind works. He slightly prefers Buddha over Jesus, whereas I like them both just fine. Neither one of us tolerates dogma very well, but when it comes right down to it, I like having something to believe in. I don’t need much. I just like believing in believing.

It turns out that our 4 year old daughter likes believing too. Thanks to the Disney gods she believes in fairies and mermaids. Actually she’s obsessed with them and has begun to manifest them regularly – finding an Ariel head (yes, just the head) on the sidewalk and then a Tinkerbell figurine in the lost-and-found box at the library in the same week.

Even though we’ve decided not to lie to her about Santa, allowing it to be more of a story or game – she believes in him too. She wants to ride on his sleigh and says I’m not as amazing as he is. Apparently, since I’ve lost the magic trick of making milk, I am a fallible human just like every other parent…

When I was seven I opened a closet door and found the evidence against Santa. I sobbed right there on the spot. I cried because Santa wasn’t real.

I cried because my dad had done such a bad job of hiding it and because I’d been lied to.

I cried because I had loved my presents so much and could not believe that my father had organised the whole Christmas affair on his own.

I cried because I wished he had just thrown the damn packaging away.

I cried because I felt stupid. And I thought he was stupid. And I thought that he thought that I was stupid.

I cried because my dad, a single father (in the 1980’s when he must have been the only one) and newly recovered alcoholic really was on his own – no help even from the big guy with the white beard.

I cried because it hit me just how alone we were and I thought for sure we were doomed.

And I cried because I needed a really good cry, and this was the perfect pretext to get out some of the stuff that had built up over the last… several years.

I cried because I loved my dad so much that it hurt, and I never ever wanted to lose him again.

I believed so fiercely in my father. I believed that he would make it and that we would find someone to save us from ourselves.

When my father found a higher power through the Twelve Step Program he also found my mother – the woman who adopted me and my sister and who is now raising my sister’s daughter. She taught us about Jesus in a way that even kind of makes sense to an agnostic. For many years my dad seemed to “get it”, but in the end, none of us could save him – not me, not my mom – not even Christ. And we couldn’t save my sister either, but that’s another story…

You can’t help but be a little bit Buddhist when you watch someone battle with addiction. Especially when it seems to happen over and over and over again. You see how they are suffering. You know there could be an end to their suffering. But you remain unattached to the idea that it will ever actually end. And then it does. Thy will be done.

I have had three distinct and intensely vivid dreams which have left me convinced that that my biological mother is in heaven, my father has reincarnated and my sister is an angel.

We all need something to believe in. Sometimes as a parent, I just need to believe that I can make it right. I can do better. Maybe heavy metal detox is the answer to my prayers… Maybe I should actually just meditate every day like my parents taught me to do when I was nine.

A couple of weeks ago I lost my temper with the Santa at a neighborhood function. He was letting drunk women sit on his lap and was ignoring my daughter. I really want to model emotional regulation, but this was too much for me. I used choice words. It did not go well at all.

I felt like I had ruined Christmas. I had taken away something that my daughter could believe in – the idea that mommy could at least keep it together in public.

She knows that this was not the “real Santa”, and she knows that adults do stupid things – like yelling at Santa… Or taking their kid to see Santa in the first place.

So even though it didn’t really make sense, I wanted to make it up to her by shelling out some money to go see a decent Santa. I wanted to make it right.

Amelie Santa 2012


There was an hour-long wait. While we were window shopping I saw about thirty Russian Dolls in two different shops. And my daughter found a mermaid ornament.


Mermaid Fairy Cropped Again



Where is this stuff coming from??


I never met my father-in-law but before he died, he was renowned for his work with particles. My husband, however, remains unconvinced that our daughter is demonstrating some kind of phenomenon of quantum mechanics.

So, it is either the fairies or the angels. Or is it just that the universe becomes acutely aware of whatever it is that we hold most present in our minds?

I’m just glad to be here. And I’d feel okay if my daughter opened the closet, but its nice that she hasn’t yet.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Albert Einstein

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