This is a photo of me taken this morning by my 7-year-old daughter. She took the photo before the madness which goes with our weekday morning routines begins.This madness is always triggered by my determination to get her and her sister to school before 8.50am.
In this snapshot, there is a subtle smile on my face but not at my core. I am not beaming with smiles on the inside of me because I’m frightened. I’m frightened of what I have turned into.
A Tiger mother.
This morning, I feel more like a toothless Tiger mother. Why do I feel this way? Well, I am losing my grit. My grit is an important ingredient necessary to get the business done; the business of raising successful kids.The original Tiger Mother, Amy Chua showed grit in her book Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother.
Another item a Tiger mother requires for the formula of raising successful kids is to never back down. From my experience, never backing down requires a colossal amount of power and firm muscles. Of late, I have been backing down and my firm muscles have slackened. The reason? – my darling daughters are beginning to feel the weight of the pressure I am putting them under.
Growing up I was under this type of pressure too. I survived it with my creativity in a burial ground. Deep in my heart, I believe fear is what pushes me to push my daughters. The fear of what lies in wait for them in the future. The uncertainties which come with growing up as a woman in our world.
These uncertainties I hear of constantly on my radio and television. My fear of these uncertainties is also intensified by well-meaning feminists fighting for the rights of women. These feminists have advised mothers like me to teach my young daughters how to lean in. I have listened. I want my daughters to lean in and sit securely at the table. For this reason, I work them hard academically.
Some people have warned me not to work them so hard. They say children should have no pressure put on them; they should enjoy their childhood. In addition, a happy childhood breeds a good relationship with parents in the later years.
Perhaps I am risking my relationship with my daughters because I want the best for them. On the other hand, Tiger mothers say parents in the west underestimate what their children are capable of achieving if pushed. They believe children are not fragile so we should stop having a low expectation of them.
I say, I’m now confused. I want my daughters to have it all. I want them to lean in, sit at the table and be happy.
Is it really possible for my daughters to have it all? No one can have it all; something has to give. But what has to give, and at what price?