Chapters, Ottawa, April 2014
Chapters, Ottawa, April 2014

Do you want to do me a favour? Don’t buy me coffee (and don’t offer to babysit, innocent soul!). Make all my decisions for a day.

Some women complain that they develop a mild case of forgetfulness after motherhood. I can remember stuff just fine—including the fact that I have been unable to make up my mind for these past few months.

I can deal with “big life decisions” and work-related matters, though. It’s the small, everyday things I’m having trouble with.

I have two flavours of instant oatmeal at home. I have just spent ten minutes trying to decide which one would be granted the honour of being my snack. Dates and nuts or bananas. I was looking at the two boxes in the pantries and I just couldn’t pick one. And it’s not like it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to eat oatmeal. I mean, a box of Quakers Oats is $2.49 at Walmart and last time I checked, they weren’t anywhere close to being out of stock.

Which mall should we take Mark to today? I look at Feng helplessly. I don’t know. I really don’t. I don’t feel like going to a mall in the first place so it shouldn’t matter. The malls are all the same, with different layouts but the same franchised stores, we aren’t going to do anything special there except entertain Mark for an hour or so. But I just can’t pick one.

I don’t know what to eat. I don’t know what to wear. I don’t know what to read. I don’t know what to watch on TV. I don’t know which brand of canned tuna or which Chinese veggie I should buy. I ponder, I hesitate and I hesitate some more.

And most of the time, since I can’t make up my mind, I give up on buying whatever I came to buy, I turn off the TV, overwhelmed by the number of channels, and I make the same dinner as the day before rather than trying something new.

To avoid making decisions, I put myself on autopilot and settle into a routine. I buy the same brands and the same groceries and alternate between two or three pairs of jeans and as many t-shirts. Thank God I’m not into shoes: I only have three pairs—boots when it’s cold, sneakers when I’ll be doing a lot of walking and sandals when it’s hot.

I think this comes from the fact I have to make decisions for Mark. I have to pick what he wears, what he eats, figure out what’s fun for him and what makes him fussy, and keep him healthy, safe, and happy.

It seems that after that, I have no brain juice left to make decisions for myself.

It’s annoying. “Come on, make up your mind!” I urge myself constantly. I don’t want to waste time sweating the small stuff.

I’ve never been an indecisive person. And overall, life is good. My freelancing business is doing fine and when it comes to work-related decisions, I know what I’m doing. And when I don’t, I’m quick to make a decision and I rarely look back.

So I’ve been trying to quiz Mark. He can’t really say whether he’d rather hang out at IKEA or Chapters but he can definitely choose between a sandwich, a banana or a fruit pureed pouch if I show him these options.

Or not.

Last week, Feng, Mark and I walked by a bakery. Mark stopped and pointed to the window display full of chocolate bunnies and other Easter-themed goodies.

“Do you want a bunny cookie? I’ll get you one if you want.”

We stepped into the bakery and I let Mark check out the cookies at his height level.

“Pick anything you like,” I said cowardly standing in front of the messy-to-eat slices of pies to prevent him from picking the one and only thing that would result in a laundry disaster.

Mark walked around once and turned to me. “Anything, Mark. Chocolate chips cookie? Shortbread?”

He paused and looked around some more.

“How about this one?” I said.

Mark looked disinterested.

“This one?”

“Meh,” he seemed to say.

“Mark, let’s go if you don’t want anything.”

Feng started laughing. “It’s annoying when someone can’t make up his mind, isn’t it!”

“Shut up. Just…”

One of us had to pick something. Feng grabbed a sweet roll and we left.

Can’t even use my son to make decisions. Apparently, it runs in the family, then…

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  1. Géraldine Green May 6, 2014 at 8:17 am

    I know that paralysis! For me, I think it’s my silly desire to optimize the heck out of everything. What would be the BEST thing to read right now? If I read this article, am I missing out on one that would be more informative/inspiring? Isn’t there something else I should be doing? Or something I want to do more? This food is healthier, but that one is cheaper, yes but health comes first, yes but money is tight this week, etc. The worst is when I happen to have some time to myself. Then I *really* want to make the most of it, and my brain goes into overdrive: spa? walk in the woods? Coffee shop with a book? Picking up the drycleaning? The result is often that I talk myself out of everything and end up doing routine stuff. I’m learning to just pick a lane and see where it goes, but it’s stop and go…

    1. Zhu May 6, 2014 at 10:23 am

      It’s exactly that! Free time is such a rare commodity that I can’t even imagine spending it watching TV or just doing nothing. In fact, it’s probably what I should do instead of catching up with work, friend, cleaning, grooming, etc.

      Did you find a “hack” to overcome the issue? I’m afraid to even look for one, if there are several techniques available I won’t be able to pick just one!

  2. petite yaye May 6, 2014 at 11:02 am

    I couldn’t write it better ! Can’t make any common decision… every sunday going to the same beach otherwise it would be a torture… I do my best for michoco but regarding myself, I do nothing to go out, eat, dress myself differently ! I thaught I was the only one…
    Help : quakers oats are out of stock here… it xas part of my routine and I’m desesperate !!!!

    1. Zhu May 6, 2014 at 11:07 am

      Oh no! I would be sad without oats! Should I send you some?

      1. petite yaye May 16, 2014 at 4:27 pm

        I have found some and made a 6 months reserve ! Big problem in Dakar : you can find evetything you want but not anytime…

        1. Zhu May 16, 2014 at 9:44 pm

          … and here you can find whatever you need, 24//7, even if you don’t need anything. Sigh.

  3. Lily May 6, 2014 at 11:48 am

    It reminds me of an old woman where I was living as a teenage. She once told me that we were both indecisive *because* we were Gemini. “It’s the two of them inside us who are constantly fighting”. Makes total sense, right? 😀

    Usually I get very hesitant about trivial stuff when I’m super tired (can’t actually make out what’s the best solution) or super stressed (What if I chose the WORST solution??!!) or just depressed (“Nothing really matters anyway…”). It’s annoying because it goes in a circle. :/

    1. Zhu May 6, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      I hear you!

      I’m Aries. I should be making snap decisions!

  4. I Say Oui May 6, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Oatmeal was out of stock at my supermarket yesterday. *sigh*

    1. Zhu May 6, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      Damn. I would not be happy about that.

  5. Christiane May 6, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    LOL !! Psssh don’t ask me about making decisions ! I have pregnancy brain so it takes me twice as long !! I have to ask my husband too and it makes me feel stupid !

    1. Zhu May 6, 2014 at 9:11 pm

      Pregnancy brain is a complete valid excuse. Can’t use that one anymore, though!

  6. Holly Nelson May 6, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    I am like this, dread to think how bad it will be when I have children!

    1. Zhu May 7, 2014 at 10:13 am

      Don’t worry, they make decisions for you 😆

  7. Martin Penwald May 7, 2014 at 10:25 am

    You should carry dices, and elaborate a table with every-day life issues corresponding to a roll of dices. No more indecision state.

    1. Zhu May 7, 2014 at 6:47 pm

      That or a magic ball!


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