I have had my fair share of insecurities as a mother so I shall not start the waffling about how I stumble through 18 years of motherhood like a bumbling fool in search of a Motherhood for Idiots guide at the bookstore.
However, I am going to dedicate this blog post to the person who have actually helped support me as a mother and perhaps been my "4 poles" when I tried very hard to be a good mother, the way I parallel parked my car.
Since I was expecting Joel, I had always wanted to be an unconventional mother. I wanted to be able to raise Joel like an adult on equal footing with me. I wanted to be able to have "adult" conversations with him. I wanted to raise him as a strong, independent and self-assured young man with an ambitious streak, and a go-getter attitude who is not afraid of any challenges life may throw at him.
In other words, I wanted him to be like me.
Now here's the joke. He's not like me.
Thank goodness. That's because, I am not that embodiment of strength I thought I was. And I certainly am not an independent and self-confident person who is not afraid of challenges life throws at me regularly. I am the exact opposite.
Unlike me, Joel grew up to be a self-assured young man full of love for life and absolutely no fear for the bumps along the road of life. Unlike me, he does not over-plan his day to day in a bid to preempt issues that may unexpectedly crop up. Unlike me, he doesn't bear grudges and look back in anger, unforgiving of tribulations.
And the person who contributed to this, was definitely not his crazy, erratic, temperamental, melodramatic and highly emotional mother. It was because of the man who took on the mantle as a father figure and his best friend for the last 11 years.
When Joel was merely 7 years old and just started to go to school, I meandered through the dark and frightening forest of divorce often with my head buried in the pillow and my spirit quashed by the strong grip of depression. David was standing beside me, holding not just my hand but Joel's too. He made it a point to take the both of us out to the beach or the parks, bent on getting the 3 of us to spend quality time together as a normal family and not a dysfunctional one.
He was aware that Joel's friends had moms and dads picking them up at the school gates, so we did too. He was aware that Joel will be seeing a lot of kids playing normally with their moms and dads, and we made it a point to do the same every Sunday.
He bought Joel his first bicycle. And like a great dad, he taught Joel to ride his shiny new bike, first with training wheels, then unscrewing the training wheels months later and confidently pushing him down the slope. Never mind that he landed in a mangled heap by the bin at the end of that slope because Pops was there to pick him up, brush the bits of grass, leaves and twigs off his backside, soothed the bruise on his knee with his finger moistened with that "cure-all" saliva and propped him back on that bike.
As Joel grew into a strapping teenager, David bought the both of them mountain bikes so that they could take to the roads together pretending to be Lance Armstrong.
When Joel grew up with the usual pubescent issues of a voice change, girlfriends and his first shave, David was the one who did that dreaded discussion about sex and taught him how to shave.
David was the father and the mother when I was busy chasing a high-flying career, trying to shake off any residual perceptions of myself as "the housewife from Brunei".
Today, they both still have the frequent "man to man" talks and Joel knows that even when his loopy mother flew into her melodramatic display of hormonal fits, there was always Pops he could retreat to, to have a sensible conversation with.
I am successful in juggling career and family because of David. Joel has grown up to be a well-balanced, level-headed gentleman that any mother would be proud of because of David.
I remembered teasing David for picking us up as waifs and strays more than 11 years ago. However, I could never fathom how Joel and my life would be like without the one man who is the best Dad, Mom and best friend all rolled into 1. I can only be the mother that I can be only because of David.