I guess I can’t deny my age or upbringing anymore. I grew up in the halycon 90s with Heathers, Smashing Pumpkins, Doc Martens, chokers, and 90210 (the original, not the lame re-make where the girls looked 12 and wore a size zero). Since I grew up in a modest suburb of Toronto, no one was really rich so the pressures in those days were being able to say you saw the latest Winona Ryder movie in the theatre, had a cd player, and whether your wide leg jeans were the pricier Silver’s or the cheaper Stitches brand. By the way, both were almost the same price unlike the modern day Bugaboo versus Graco stroller comparison.
I was given $50 to spend every year on back to school clothes which didn’t go very far so I swapped clothes with my sister and a couple close friends, and many others did the same. I didn’t know the difference between Gucci and Guess because I never imagined I’d have either.
Fast forward 20 years later and there seems to be more intense peer pressure now than there was back then but it’s a different kind of peer pressure – it’s one we are putting on ourselves to keep up with the Joneses, the Ambanis, the Wongs, the Galinskys, and mommy moms everywhere. You know who I’m talking about – the ones who enroll their kids into the most expensive private schools available, the ones who have put their kids into every piano, ballet, chess, girl scouts, gymnastics class imaginable. Not only that, they haul them long distances in the tri-state area because the class/school/extra-curricular activity is apparently better if it’s further away.
On one occasion, just as I thought I had perfected my over-achieving mommy mom facade and proudly proclaimed to another mom about how I had enrolled my little girl in ballet, swimming, and piano, in addition to the classes I already pay for at her obscenely expensive private school like karate, violin, yoga, art, and scratch programming (I don’t actually know what this one is), she smugly mentioned she had her kids also enrolled in chess, Bollywood dance, girl guides, and kumon math. Sheesh.
I am aware that I am morphing into this strange caricature of the mommy moms I make fun of in my blog, yet I can’t seem to stop myself. It’s a tiger mom tic that won’t stop ticking. I know that my kids don’t really need eight different classes but I always told myself that I was doing this for noble reasons – I wanted to give my kids all these opportunities that I didn’t have, I wanted them to shine, succeed, achieve great things, and not feel deprived in any way, you know, the second generation immigrant dream cliche. And god forbid if I only pick one or two classes, they may be missing out in life.
However, now I’m starting to wonder whether I’m doing more harm than good by over-scheduling them and myself like this and of course getting them used to having large amounts of money lavishly spent on them like it’s no big deal. I’m also starting to wonder how many of us are only doing this because we feel we will be seen as less adequate parents if we don’t. Worse yet, are we doing this mostly to satiate our own competitive streak and prove to everyone around us how far we’ve come in life, what great moms we are, and what accomplished kids we’ve raised?
I don’t know about the rest of the mommy moms out there but I for one will be doing some serious pondering about this next time I’m driving like a maniac and illegally parking just to get my kid to her eighth class of the week. Perhaps if we all did more of this reflection, we would be a little less hard on our kids and ourselves, stop competing with each other so much, and enjoy life a bit more.