as a lefty-ish, po-mo loving Canadian with an obsessive-compulsive fetish for vocabulary and saying things with just the right emphasis, i don’t encounter too many regular interesections between my self-image and Mr. George W. Bush. continent of origin? yep. species? erm, okay. putting food on my family? i suppose, though i’m working hard to discourage that trait in Oscar and really have to start setting an example.

but we’ve got one clear and indubitable tie, me and Dubya, no matter how far apart we may be on any societal spectra. i’ve spent my whole life wanting to be The Decider, too.

i grew up as an only child. with a single parent. clean, blatant lines of authority, clear roles, direct communications, nobody to play off anybody, and nobody requiring consultation. we may have battled through my teens, my mother and i, but for as long as i lived under her roof, i lived with her decisions. i frequently loathed being the subject party TO those decisions, admittedly…particularly the ones which brought my mother’s pantyhose-wearing notions of a ladylike social life into conflict with my own. but i admired the ergonomics of it all. it was my norm, and all i knew, and all – for the longest time – that i could imagine of what parenthood might be.

during the many eons in which i fantasized about babies whilst waiting to get my life in some sort of order before all my eggs dried up and moved to Rio, i noticed that most of my fantasies involved a very decisive, capable, nurturing version of myself in the mama role, and a very hazy, charming, miniature baby-sized model of myself in the kidlet role…but no papa. or rather, papa, if present, did not seem to be a speaking role.

this worried me, because while i didn’t mind the notion of being a single mother, i was – at the time – married. and later, when that particular barrier to my future as Head of the Family was removed, my secret vision of myself as The Decider still caused me worry. would i find someone else with whom to procreate? how, with all that ambivalence about the papa job? i don’t tend to be terribly attracted to people who don’t want speaking roles. but i could not imagine the irritation of potentially having to negotiate every single choice made about childrearing, either. nor the loss of control it implied.

i went into motherhood secretly terrified, not that i would be a bad parent, but that i would be absolutely driven mad by having to share parenting with someone else. even someone as otherwise fine as Dave. because i knew too well that he’s inclined to ideas, and that he makes a crappy yes-man.

what i didn’t know, of course, is that the decision-making that i’ve always found so simple and rational and easy to live with my entire life long has absolutely NOTHING to do with the kind of decision-making one is faced with as a parent. the kind where there’s not only probably no right answer, but the only way to play the game is to pick and see how it all works out. with your child as guinea pig. the kind where when your partner’s been away in bleeping England for five days and your child’s in the midst of a nap strike, your sitter calls to say that her own daughter – a fierce little elfin figure in your child’s home day-care environment – has chickenpox. or some other mysterious dread outbreak of sores all over her small body. but you can bring your child in tomorrow nonetheless if you need to go to work…your call.

or rather, my call. my call…whee. The Decider. i’m really The Decider now.

and i’m here to tell you, it sucks donkeys.

because being The Decider in relation to your child means never knowing what the consequences of your decision will be, no matter how much effort you put into gathering information and hedging bets. it means weighing the fact that Oscar’s been vaccinated for the pox against the fact that the sitter’s daughter has as well…and still has spots between her wee toes and in her mouth, this is no mere vaccine reaction…and acknowledging that he’s already been exposed but without knowing whether prolonged exposure puts him at greater risk in spite of his vaccination. being The Decider means having to add up all the things i’m supposed to do at work tomorrow and trying to see how many of them could still be accomplished from home if – gods willing – there was a naptime, and how many of them would cause serious problems or offense or render me further obliged to parties i’d rather not incur favours from. and it involves judging whether or not it is fair and right to ask a mother to care for my child while her own is sick, and judging whether it is likely that mine will get the care i want him to in that instance, no matter her efforts or the sturdiness of his vaccine.

and if i’m wrong…it’s O that wears it all, the consequences of my choices. that’s the kicker. and this is not a life or death decision, or shouldn’t be…but they’re all complicated, once you involve a child. piss. shoulda known power wouldn’t be all glorious and fun…stupid chickenpox.

so i’m, um, thinking maybe i should stay home, at least until final diagnosis comes in? and i’m definitely thinking of abdicating from my lustful pursuit of Deciderhood…of rounding out my fantasies so they look more like the reality i’m realizing i’m blessed to have, when it’s not buggered off to Blighty. and i’m thinking i should call my mom and say thanks for wearing that mantle, that responsibility of deciding, alone, year in, year out, all through my growing up. i had no clue how heavy it was, how unrelenting.

(and can anybody get me in touch with Georgie W sometime real soon? i really really want a second opinion on this whole chickenpox thing….)