The first time I met Jasmine Han face-to-face, she was scantily clad in “pole gear” (and proceeded to give me a big hug). I should also add she was wearing 6-inch-strappy heels, and sporting washboard abs. I’d walk around in those clothes too if I had a stomach like that.
Of course, she was wearing her sexy skivvies in a professional capacity, as the owner and an instructor at SLAP Dance Studio, a super popular pole- and striptease-dancing school in the CBD. This is all to say that Jasmine is not your average mama of two. She’s vivacious, a bit bawdy, and immediately puts you at ease with her sense of humour. Any preconceived notions you might have about conservative, mild-mannered Singaporeans fly out the window once you’ve met Jasmine.
She recently teamed up with American expat mama Shelly Holly to publish I’m Not Perfect. I’m a Mom. The two of them met while wheeling their babies around the pool in their condo, and soon bonded over playgroup shenanigans when they realised they had a different outlook than some of the other PNMs (“Perfect Neurotic Moms”) in the group. Neither mama has a helper, either (so no, they’re not perfect, but they are apparently superheroes).
You know how when you’re in the throes of new motherhood and you find yourself up feeding the baby at 4am, then realise some of your other mum friends are also up with their babies so you start swapping stories via text message? Or you’re covered in bodily fluids of some sort and know that only certain friends can fully appreciate the ridiculousness (and not be grossed out)? That’s basically how the book came about.
I’m Not Perfect. I’m a Mom. doesn’t really have a plot; instead it’s a collection of true first-person stories (Jasmine and Shelly have combined themselves, their husbands, and their three kids between them into composite characters) that begins with pregnancy and continues through the trials and tribulations of giving birth, caring for a baby (where is that damn instruction manual?!), maintaining intimacy with a partner, managing toddler tantrums and much more.
Not for the faint of heart (“poop” is almost definitely the most-used word in the book), the stories are amusing and completely relatable, with fun Singapore-specific details like chasing your child through a shopping mall when they’ve run out of the grocery store, navigating parking garages while overloaded with shopping bags and two unruly toddlers, and taking kids on long-haul intercontinental flights without the aid of your spouse (whether or not he’s actually along for the trip).
Yet there is also a universality to the stories that stressed out, overtired, under-showered mums will find reassuring. With a large print and wonderful, cheeky illustrations by Yong Wen Yeu throughout, the book is a breezy read that can easily be handled in one sitting, though I think it’s best enjoyed in bite-sized pieces when you’re most in need of a laugh. I’m pretty sure the authors would prescribe a big ol’ glass of wine for best results, too.
I’m Not Perfect. I’m a Mom. is available for purchase online at Epigram Books, or in person at SLAP Dance Studio, 155 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068611, Tel: (+65) 6636 4622