Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Mommy amnesia

There's something about a 3 month old baby that makes a mother forget everything from the time of its conception through his third month. If we remembered anything of the year past --  the morning sickness, heartburn, hemorrhoids, the exhaustion, their overdue arrival, labor and childbirth, the after pains, the exhaustion, the crying for no apparent reason, the refusal to sleep at 4 a.m. and, oh, did I mention the exhaustion? -- the human race might cease to exist.

Owen is 3 months old this week. He just rolled over with his little knit bunny a la Aunt Jackie and put himself to sleep. (I'm typing fast here, so ignore any grammatical or other errors.) He smiles, he talks, he soothes himself, he's almost sleeping through the night. He's been introduced to the Bumbo seat and, as you can see, the exersaucer has landed. He's starting to look less worried by and more amused with his surroundings. For a while, he furrowed his little brow so much that he looked like a very worried old man. Though he remains blissfully oblivious, he really should still be a bit worried. His sister has just learned the names of all facial features and is particularly interested in pointing out his eyes.

By the time each of my children reached this age, amnesia set in. I had forgotten that, while pregnant for all our children, I threw up almost every day. I had forgotten that my back pain was so bad with Fiona that one day Jim came home to find me in pajamas and tears on the sofa with an oblivious 2 year old flitting about. I had forgotten that Danny's labor was 40 hours and Fiona was overdue by 10 days. I had forgotten that Danny screamed, farted and projectile vomited much of his first three months. I had forgotten that Fiona would be wide awake from 4 a.m. to at least 6 a.m. for the first few months.

Mommy amnesia protects our hearts, too. It keeps me from holding a permanent grudge toward my children as they trudge through each stage. At least once a day, as Fiona throws every toddler trick she's got at us, I look at my husband and say, "I don't remember Danny doing this" or "I don't remember Danny being this bad about ... ."

And he says, "I think I remember ... . " Daddies remember these things, probably because they get more sleep, but mostly because men tend not to hold grudges. He brings these things up in a very matter of fact way. I can sulk for days over my children's behavior. Then weeks, months and years later, I forget all of it. Sometimes, all it takes to forget the past is one good family outing to the lake, one good hour with the kids or even one small interaction with the kids. I start to see them changing and growing and becoming little people with distinct personalities and I start thinking, "This isn't so bad. Maybe we should have another one." Sometimes I think that I don't like children as much as I like the challenge of childbirth and parenting and, of course, picking out those tiny little outfits.

Maybe we should just end it here. After all, I do not want to have toddler when I'm 40 and kids in our house until I'm 60. It's too bad, though. With Owen, I finally learned how to swaddle effectively and got to practice that skill all of six weeks.

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