I used to hate it when my Literature lecturers told me that “there’s no such thing as a right answer, as long as you’re persuasive enough“. Because evidently there was. If there wasn’t, I’d be scoring an “A” for my thesis on why we need to set fire to Jane Eyre (the book, not the person). Along the way, I figured out the right answers by sneaking into the staff lounge and getting myself one of those model essays.
I blame it on my compulsive disorder. I need to do things right, whatever right means. I was the kind of kid that colors within the lines and follows all the rules, you know, the head prefect sort with my horn-rimmed spectacles and geeky hair. Freestyling, that’s just not my style.
I’ve learned to be a lot less anal retentive but the compulsiveness, it’s hard to shake off.
They told me it’s the same with parenting. “There’s no such thing as a right parenting style, just what’s right for your kid”. I didn’t buy that, so I was always searching for that elusive right answer. What to feed your child, where to get the best educational material, what toys to get, how to make them sleep and so on. Some answers were backed up by scientific data and others had raving testimonials from expert moms but a lot of it was confusing and contradictory and they all just messed with my head.
So we mostly learned through trial and error. Like one time I fed Truett some peanuts because he was screaming his head off during a wedding dinner and he almost choked and died until I stuck my fingers down his throat and dug it out. Lesson: always have baby bites on hand.
It doesn’t help that this time, I’m not graded by qualified teachers but by the army of perfect moms who always manage to look like they have it all together.
There’s something about being a mom that makes you terribly paranoid and competitive. You’re always peering over your shoulder to see what other moms are doing. Maybe it’s because an entire life is at stake here. Maybe because there really is no right answer and we are all desperately hoping that we didn’t mess up. Once in a while, I chance upon one of those stepford moms and it’s like I’m back to High School all over again.
Sometimes I bring Kirsten out for breakfast in the morning and in order to buy time while I eat, I feed her whatever I’m having, which includes McD’s or fried noodles (but no peanuts, I’m a fast learner). In between my mouthfuls of processed junk food, I turn to the table beside me and there she is, with her perfect hair and neatly arranged tiny boxes of organic celery sticks and hummus. Which is right about the point I start to pretend to search my bag, knowing full well that all I’ll find is a half-eaten hash brown.
Sometimes I put both my kids in the same stroller while I blitz from point to point without strapping them down.
Sometimes I put my kids in front of the telly while I prepare their meals.
Sometimes I say no way more times than I should because that’s the obvious answer to “can I lick the underside of my shoe?”
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I won’t have all the answers. In fact, most of the answers I have are likely to be wrong but that’s the fun of parenting. I’m the boss of them and there’s no one to tell me I suck. Well, except for the moms who do it without saying a word.