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.
Being a parent is quite the impossible task, eh?
I still blame my mother all the time for my insecurities about my body—but luckily I have a wonderful husband who has made me see the light of day. And now I try to get her to stop getting down on herself—it’s hard, i get it!
But i think the best thing, is you’re willing to analyze what you’re doing. Because when it all comes down to it—we are all human and thus make mistakes—all the time. It’s how you handle those mistakes, that separate the good from the not so good (IMO).
Instead of parenting…maybe we should call it a learning process? Or just like I was practicing dentistry, you could say your are practicing parenting??
I think being with a family member makes it all that much easier to be harder on ourselves without realizing how we’re coming off; when I’m with my boyfriend I openly criticize myself and put myself down, partly because he’s the one person I can be completely honest with! It’s great that you were able to catch it though, that’s what’s important!
xo, alice / T Y P E N U
Oh sweets I hear you loud and clear. I am an emotional mess right now as one baby leaves for college Sunday and the other a couples days later. NO matter how old they get (and us) we will never stop learning. The point that you get it, you see it, you know it, means you will grow from it and not make the same mistakes the next time. I bet you are the best mom, so fun, so smart and I can only imagine what a wonderful daughter you have raised!!
I love the pink and green walls! So chic.
We need to start treating ourselves like a kind friend, not pointing out the negatives but reflecting on the positives.
Beautifully written and expressed. I haven’t met one mother that wasn’t hard on herself for some mistakes with her kids. I sometimes go to bed wanting to cry because I raised my voice harshly and scared my kids one day. Or I was not understanding when I could have listened to both kids (fighting) and their point of views before passing consequences. Eve is lucky to have you and I am glad you two are working through this together. That’s awesome!
Thanks for linking up to Top of the World Style. I always wonder how you ensure that your daughter doesn’t get a hold of your awesome unique shoes.
As far as body image issues go, you cannot be solely to blame. Because society and media force these issues upon as well. And you, being human, have absorbed these same insecurities as we all have and then naturally you have unconsciously passed them on. It is quite the vicious cycle, indeed, and definitely one we need to try to break. But it really is an uphill battle. Also, did they give you the illusive parenting manual when you brought newborn Eve home? Because they sure as hell didn’t give me one and I have been struggling ever since with this parenting gig! So applause to you for recognizing your small contribution to the perpetuating of these evil body image issues and taking a step in the direction of reversing said message. And applause to you for raising an intelligent, beautiful young woman who is so in tune to these issues to be able to articulate her frustrations. And by the way, you are neither fucking fat nor fucking ugly…ever…you are always and forever fucking fabulous! So own it, my friend!
I think your experience is similar to all moms everywhere whether we blog or not. I’m always saying things “Like I’m fat” and then my kids say “No your not”. Your right, we really need to watch how we talk about ourselves in front of our kids.
It’s hard to look at photos of yourself and not be overly critical. And it’s even harder not to voice that criticism. We should all try to look at photos of ourselves like we look at photos of our friends – we don’t see their “flaws” but their smile, how happy they look, the interesting poses, etc. But it’s easier said than done…
And, parenting is hard, and it’s really one big learning experience… We all make mistakes; the important thing is that we learn from them and that our kids see that we learned from them…
So glad you and Eve have fun on the shoots she does for you these days!
Andrea’s Wellness Notes
Your are great mother! Not because you don´t doing mistakes. Of course, you do, everybody does. But you are great, that you are able to think about it, accept it and correct it. Your daughter is happy girl. o)
Thank you for linking up with My Red Carpet.
We’re always our own worst critic, isn’t it? It can’t be helped! But I guess from reading your story, I realise that when it comes to evaluating myself, there really is a fine line between constructive criticism – which can help make me a better person – and just plain bashing. I remember being 17 and hearing someone negatively assessing about other’s physical qualities, and asking myself “If she think that person’s thighs are fat, does that mean she thinks MINE are fat?”, and consequently I would be critiquing the rest of my body, and questioning which is the right, widely-accepted perception of beauty and if I should change the way I look. I don’t know if Eve is going through the same round of questioning – I hope not, and there’s comfort in knowing everyone grows up differently! – but we all have been there, and we all know how impressionable we were at 17. My guess is Eve looks up to you and you’re her hero, but heroes make mistakes too, don’t they?
I think many moms and even non-mommy women like me can benefit from your story here. Thank you for sharing this!