Morose Mum of sullen tweens bids adieu

THEN: Clara Chow with son Julian in 2007 when, as a wide-eyed mum, parenthood held such wonder and allure.
Morose Mum of sullen tweens bids adieu

NOW: Clara Chow posing with Julian after he had completed the Boogey Blue Dash of 800m for seven- and eight-year-olds in the Cold Storage Kids Run 2013 in May. The run attracted 5,000 runners. And, no, seven-year-old Julian did not come in last.


    Nov 25, 2013

    Morose Mum of sullen tweens bids adieu

    I STARTED writing Manic Mummy because of some old furniture.

    In late 2007, soon after I quit my job as a reporter to be a full-time mum, an editor friend asked if I wanted to write an ad hoc column for MyPaper. Back then, such random musing came under the heading of "btw", short for "By the way".

    I elected to write something on my love for cast-off furnishings and decorating my then-new first home, a flat in Sembawang, with 1950s teak cabinets from my husband's family. (Mind you, this was before hipsters latched onto all things retro and bought up everything vaguely old-school at thrift stores.)

    My rather-inconsequential essay was published on Jan 8, 2008, a Tuesday. The headline? "Think before you throw away your past".

    Pieces on giving up my journalism career for my toddler son, and finding a suitable pre-school for him, followed.

    A month later, the editors hit upon an idea: how about writing a parenting column?

    "Think of a nice name for it," the former editor of the English section, Mr Yeow Kai Chai, instructed me over the phone. After a few days, I came up with "Manic Mummy", because that's exactly how my life felt at that point - swinging between frazzled activity running after a two-year-old and the emotional highs of being a young family.

    The first of the weekly series appeared on Wednesday, Feb 20, 2008, in which I reflected on Taiwanese playwright Stan Lai's family tragedy, Like Shadows, and how it resonated with me.

    A few months later, in September, the column was moved to the start of the work week, because Mr Yeow reportedly liked the alliteration of Manic Mummy on Mondays.

    Fast forward more than six years, and I am writing the last of the Manic Mummy columns.

    In some sense, I am relieved. I wonder if I still fit the bill to write about the experiences of young parents.

    My two sons are growing up fast, and the elder one feels like he's seven going on 17. Things got a tad complicated, the day he told me that he didn't want me to write about his exploits any more.

    Who wants to hear a bunch of anecdotes about anonymous not-so-cute, sullen tweens?

    At 36, I sometimes feel more Morose or Low-Energy Mummy than Manic. Reading the earlier columns, I feel a deep nostalgia for that wide-eyed mum, for whom the little details and milestones of parenthood held such wonder and allure.

    Potty training? Woohoo! I miss that younger enthusiastic self, but am glad those memories remain in newsprint.

    Over the years, I've offered my opinion on the parenting issues du jour: from alternatives to the PSLE, and the merits of the bilingual education system, to the need for breastmilk-sharing banks.

    I've contributed my two cents' worth to those weird questions that keep paranoid mothers up at night: Should you kiss your teenaged sons on the lips a la former supermodel Stephanie Seymour?

    What to do about this elusive thing called work-life balance? Can we women have it all? Can we, really? Can we? CAN WE?

    At times, I got worked up enough about perceived bone-headed parental/adult behaviour to pen sarcastic missives about, say, people who don't like bald people.

    In the process, I tore at my own (rapidly thinning) hair and moaned about writer's block on some Saturday nights or Sunday mornings before deadline.

    Still, I'm grateful to the editors I've worked with for giving me 50cm of space in this paper each Monday, to think aloud and, hopefully, entertain readers.

    For almost seven years, my kids have lived with the prospect that their embarrassing antics would end up in the media. I bet they're happy they can be discharged, from being column fodder to just being peaceful "civilians".

    So long, and thanks for reading.