I didn’t think it would come to this, but it did. My daughter L presented me with her mid-year report card, and suddenly my almost perfect world of gungho teacher, modern mother and superwoman-wanna-be fell apart.
Is it possible for a teacher-mother to have a child who almost flunked her exams? Many people think teachers' kids have it the best – free, 24/7 on-demand home tutoring. Except that in my case, it isn’t like that. Exhausted at the end of the day, I often do not have the time nor patience to coach my own kid. I have also stupidly thought I could be the hands-off, non-conformist mother who will challenge the system and not succumb to the Singaporean obsession with grades and tuition and one-upmanship.
The result of my naivety? My girl only passed 1 out of 4 subjects in her recent exams. It is heartwrenching to see her tasting failure at such a young age. How does she feel? Does it bother her? What happens to her self-esteem?
How does a teacher who spend hours teaching hundreds of other people’s kids feel when her own child is now sinking and she realizes, with a horrible shock, that maybe she is responsible for this? That while she may have devoted time to helping the weaker students in her school, she has left out the person who should matter most to her?
I don’t know how to deal with this guilt. The irony of it all sickens me.
I think of the last year which I have spent pursuing my part-time Masters course and now even that seems so self-indulgent and shallow. Maybe they are right after all, that you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Right now, I need to cut off the excesses, and forget about my own quest for personal achievement. My child is drowning and saving her is all that matters. Because when she fails, I feel that I have failed too. And no amount of impressive degrees and thank-you cards from my students can assuage the pain.