I really am, you know.
Possibly the world’s worse hypocrite.
I’d fully intended to write about a completely different topic today. But here I am, sharing something very personal. At the time of this post, my 17 year old daughter Eve is up at Yale attending a workshop. I was thinking about her (the beginnings of empty nest syndrome, I know) and how much I missed her (I’ll probably need therapy when she goes away to university next year) when I remembered a very crucial turn in our relationship. The moment I realised I was quite possibly the worst ever role model for her.
For reasons which only Eve has the right to divulge, she has been seeing a psychiatrist regularly for quite some time now. I drive her. We get there. She goes to the back, where the office is. I sit out front in the waiting area. 45 minutes later, she returns and we go home. But a few months ago, something different happened. This time, Eve emerges 5 minutes earlier, with psychiatrist in tow. The latter asks that I follow her to the office. My heart is pounding. I’ve instantly gone into panic mode, completely beside myself imagining all sorts of worse case scenarios having happened to Eve. Everything from her being pregnant to being on drugs, these thoughts (and far more, trust me), racing through my mind.
Once in her room, the psychiatrist asks, “So I hear you have a blog?“. I’m like, “Huh?“, didn’t see that one coming. She repeats the question and I replied to the affirmative. Here where she hits me with it.
“Eve tells me that she takes pictures of you for your blog. And that you’ve recently decided to post frequently which means she’ll need to take more photos. And that’s something which has been bothering her, and she wanted me to talk to you about it.”
“I repeat, huh?”
To cut it short, the gist of things can be summed up in this liner from my baby, “Every time we shoot, she’ll look at the photos and say she looks fucking fat or fucking ugly. Something like that. How can I feel good about myself when my own mother is always talking so badly about herself? How can I believe her when she tells me to think positively about myself?“
Well done, Sheela, you idiot.
I D I O T
With a capital I.
Yes, I could say that I hadn’t realised what an impact my words would have on an impressionable teenager. I could also retreat to the
excuse rationale behind why I feel the way I do about myself (due to medications and steroids, I went from 120 to 185 to now 140 in the space of 8 months). Neither of which absolves me from this. Not in the least bit. I felt that I’d failed her. Worse, permanently damaged her opinion of me. There I go again. Making it all about me. Now do you see what I mean when I claim to be a hypocrite?
While it is all well and good to assert that I’ve never positioned myself to be a role model, I sound gullible and stupid, don’t I? I mean, what else would I be to my own child? As a parent, being a role model isn’t a choice. It’s a given. To even contemplate otherwise isn’t just willfully ignorant (dumb, even), but also wildly irresponsible.
I knew I had to own up to the fact that I was a parent ergo a role model. And that I had to get my act together and, pardon the French, clean up my shit. That awakening gave birth to my Beyoncé moment. I hired a professional photographer (now friend to both Eve and I) who takes our blog photos on a regular basis. Eve still plays shutterbug whenever the need arises in between scheduled shoots, and I make sure we have a fun time doing it.
No disparaging remarks about myself. No grunts of frustration and self-loathing, just words of encouragement, jokes, shared laughter. The occasional snort and giggle.
I doubt this will be the last time I fail in the parenting department. I also know that there will be many more times wherein I would want to just lash out at those around me, for my own reasons, but I’m trying.
I really am.
Finally made the transition to AV and am now on YouTube as well as Snapchat (sheela.goh), would adore your support through subscribing to my channel/adding my snaps.
p/s my photos are by Sofia Touassa
I link up here.