First time published author, Marianne Lau Pin Lean certainly does, and she isn’t afraid to admit it. She claims to have seen elves dancing in a nostalgia shop in the cobblestone streets of Montmartre in Paris. She considers herself a bohemian at heart, and believes that she is a child trapped in a woman’s body. She believes that raindrops temper the mind, and sunshine feeds her soul. Above all, though, she is completely in love with one thing in the world: her daughter.
Yes, this seemingly-batty, eccentric person is a mother of a young daughter, and her first newly-published book, “So I had a baby…” is a startlingly sharp contrast to her vibrantly outlandish personality and fondness for expletives, a biographical parenting book unlike any other you’d find out there. What the heck, it is the anti-thesis of Amy Chua’s “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”! Written as a refreshingly honest and poignant series of letters from 2005 until present day, Marianne speaks, through her love for writing, to her young daughter, Emilie: of unicorns, love, Desperate Housewives, fairies and elves, advertising campaigns, Manolo Blahniks, sleepless nights, anal suppositories, hair combs, men and sex, Neil Gaiman and blueberry girls, Brazilian waxing, tattoos, and a whole plethora of the unexpected. Be prepared. Be shocked. Be very amused.
Here is a mother who isn’t afraid to allow her child to dream big and live in a fairytale world of make-believe, who tells her daughter, “unicorns exist, you know”. Here is a mother who isn’t perfect, who sometimes oversleeps and allows her daughter to play truant from school, who smokes Marlboro Lights and teaches her daughter how to stand up to a school bully, teaching her things like “bitch fight that little twat” and “kick her ass, baby”. Here is a mother who wants her daughter to know her as she truly is. Marianne is the unconventional single working mother doing double-parent duty, and talks about how often she is berated by her own mother for being “irresponsible, dreamy and don’t carish.” Struggling with her own inner turmoil and personal conflicts, her means of escapism are writing these letters to her daughter, intending that her words weave a cherished legacy, a vision of the past in the future, lessons to be learnt and remembered, mistakes made and cried over, and above all, her love for her only child, the love that kept her sane through the darkest of days.
“So I had a baby”will have you laughing and chuckling until you need to take a break, gasp and put it away for 2 minutes just so you can catch your breath, but it will also make you cry as you read Marianne’s words through a film of tears. The depth of the emotions it stirs within you will prick your heart. From her irrational fear of reptiles and amphibians, and subsequently, prognosis of a condition known as chelonaphobia, to herRM80,000 credit card debt and psychologist-diagnosed “compulsive shopping disorder”, to the death of her father whom she idolized, waltzing into the breakdown of her marriage and the custody negotiations for Emilie- Marianne writes with a tenderness, honesty and simplicity that is both unabashedly personal and luminously thought?provoking, spinning a different outlook from the usual parenting themes, leaving you breathless and wanting more.
Dreamers and believers must pick up a copy of this wonderful read; so too must the non-believers and the sullen, if only to be allowed a glimpse into the wonderful world of Possibilities, of one woman’s unconventional motherhood.