Mom Blogger: Julia Obst of Hello Giggles
The mom behind "Lies I Tell My Daughter" opens up, and we're pretty sure she's telling the truth
“Daddy and I aren’t yelling; we’re just using our outside voices.” “Don’t worry—girls get nicer as you get older.” “If you eat shrimp, you’ll become a better swimmer.”
Whether you see these statements as sweetly sugarcoated truths or flat-out lies, they might be useful parenting tools—or so suggests the title of Julia Obst’s popular column on Hello Giggles, “Lies I Tell My Daughter” (@liesitellmyd). But let there be no mistake: Obst’s fabrications are far more eloquent than lazy, more heartfelt than malicious (though her biting humor can sometimes blur the lines). We talked to the mother of two daughters about what constitutes a problematic fib, the pressure of raising girls, and how a trip to Pinkberry just might have changed her career. —Lucie Alig
How did you come up with the “lies” slant for your blog?
Honestly, I was in the car one day with my daughter and she was throwing a bit of a temper tantrum on our way to Pinkberry. When we got there, to my surprise, the location had closed down. So I looked at her (as I didn’t think she deserved a Pinkberry at that point anyway) and said, “See? They closed this location down because you were being a bad listener.” She just looked at me and said, “Sorry, I will be a better listener.” I thought, I should make a list of all these silly white lies I tell her, as they’re kind of funny and seem to work!
Can you speak to how white lies factor into parenting? What comes of stretching the truth for the younger set?
Did you know that a four-year-old asks an average of 437 questions a day? A DAY? At one point I thought, “What’s a little white lie here and there?” These aren’t premeditated lies. It’s more like: “Can I have my birthday party at McDonalds?” “No, McDonalds doesn’t do birthdays. I asked Ronald.” Voilà—temper tantrum avoided. Some people could view this as lazy parenting, but I look at it as a quick solution to a pointless argument about McDonalds. Will my child become a liar one day because I told her that? No. I’m as honest as can be about the world and how it works, and I never lie to my kids about real life issues. My lies are more like a continuation of the Santa Claus thing. Be good, get rewarded. That’s what Santa Claus represents.
What would you want to do if you weren’t a writer?
I’d find a way to do something creative. I am not, and never have been, the type of person to sit in an office. My husband is a literary manager and I’m constantly pitching him TV ideas. It’s very reminiscent of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo (she was always trying out for his band and getting shot down).
In your mind, how does the “Mom” section of HelloGiggles fit into the site’s more holistic mission?
I don’t view Hello Giggles as a “parenting website” by any stretch, but my column takes kind of an anti-parenting approach. Half the time I’m talking to my kids I feel like a big kid myself, so I don’t think I’d even fit in at a traditional Mommy website. On HG, I’m not saying “this is the way to raise kids;” I’m saying “this is what I do and it turns out that a lot of other people do it, too, and a lot of HG readers remember their parents doing it to them.”
Is motherhood (and being a mom to daughters, in particular) what you expected it to be?
Raising daughters is challenging, as they’re so fragile and vulnerable and I want to keep them as safe and sheltered as I can. Once in a blue moon, a child will be mean to Sunny at school and my instinct is to go yell at them. Then common sense takes over and I realize how important it is for Sunny to stand up for herself and learn to defend herself as a confident, young woman. On the whole, motherhood has turned out more amazing than I ever expected. As cliché as it sounds, I never imagined that I could love someone as much as I love my kids, and I definitely never imagined the happiness that rushes through me when they hold me or say I love you.