I have always been a bit wishy-washy.
As a teenager, I would get dressed on a Saturday and ring up my friends. Shall we hit the mall? Watch a movie? Which movie? Where? What time?
After hours of discussion, however, I would be paralysed with indecision. Coordinating my social life would seem like a task bigger than ratifying a nuclear- disarmament treaty. I would fall exhausted back into bed, and stay there until Sunday.
Motherhood, I’m afraid, has exacerbated the problem. Of late, I’ve noticed that I have trouble making the simplest of decisions.
Three weeks ago, I spent hours staring at the online reservations page of a new restaurant I wanted to try. For the life of me, I couldn’t decide which date and time I should book a table for. Should I book it for this month, to celebrate my mother’s birthday? Or should I wait until next month, to enjoy a romantic meal for two with the Supportive Spouse on his 40th?
I dithered. I hedged. A dozen online Scrabble moves later, I was still clicking back to the reservations page and scratching my head.
I still haven’t made that reservation. Like one of those evil bogs that ooze out in search of victims, Indecision has started to spread its oily fingers into the nooks and crannies of my life.
Supermarket trips are agonising. I would pop into the shops downstairs after dinner to pick up some wine, and then spend an eternity prowling the aisles for something that fits the bill – sometimes up until closing time. Cashiers look grim and purse their lips whenever I show up.
On days that the Supportive Spouse goes out to meet clients, I grind to a choice-overload halt. Where shall I take the kids to have fun: the science centre, the zoo, my mother’s house?
Even returning a library book is a long-drawn process. I recently chalked up a shocking fine on one volume, simply because I couldn’t decide if I should drive an hour to my university’s library while the kids were at school, or after they returned home. By the time I was done thinking, it was night, and the kids were in bed (prompting another round of internal debate over whether I should drive to the book drop in the middle of the night or wait until the next morning).
My theory is that this indecision is an extension of the storied “Mummy Brain” that one gets during and after pregnancy: the state of befuddlement and scatter-brainedness that arises from hormonal changes and serious lack of sleep.
I thought I had recovered from it, now that my younger son Lucien is three months shy of his third birthday. But, apparently not. I blame Mummy Brain for not holding onto all the key bits of information that allow you to make an instantaneous decision.
More seriously, now that I am a mother, the stakes are higher. Every decision I make affects not just me, but my family, and it’s hard not to feel the pressure.
Each choice sets off a chain reaction. Choose poorly, and you might have to do a lot of damage control. To do nothing at all often seems to be the most beautiful, economical and safest route.
My mummy-friend K has the same problem, too. We have taken to making tough decisions for each other. It’s worked out well so far. But I think it’s a matter of time before she’s going to start second-guessing my choices, and I, hers.
Even in matters of pleasure, where you would think I could choose my own entertainment in a snap, things are not so simple.
With “me”-time such a rare and precious commodity, potential leisure activities are expected to meet high expectations. I don’t want to pick a lousy place to have a holiday, or buy tickets for a mediocre concert. Time wasted can never be regained.
So, I waste my time thinking very long and hard over the most trivial of options.
Ironic? Pitiful? Hilarious? I can’t decide.