It’s a well-established fact that moms have selective memory. The infamous mom brain causes us to forget about the agony of labor, the months of sleepless nights, and the blown-out lady bits. If we didn’t, no one would have more than one child. No one.
It’s fortunate Mother Nature gave us rose-colored glasses, because sometimes we just need to block that shit out so we don’t spend our days curled up in the fetal position somewhere, rocking back and forth mumbling incoherently. Believe me, I am relieved as hell that I have (almost) forgotten about the humiliation of peeing my pants in public. Multiple times.
My husband and I are both grateful I’ve magically forgotten about the fantasies I had about smothering him with a pillow when he slept through a crying baby in the middle of the night. And I can only hope to one day forget the emotional devastation and aggravation that is sure to come during the teen years.
The human psyche can only handle so much, so we must be choosy with the memories we keep and the ones we toss, but here are a few things I hope my ever-more-selective memory chooses to keep around:
1. The weird things my kids said
When my oldest was a toddler, he had the most amazing names for animals. Gorillas were gee-gas. Rabbits were hop-hops. And no one wants to forget the hilarity of inadvertent swearing that comes out of a toddler’s mouth when they see a fire fuck, er, fire truck.
2. The way my kids look when they sleep
I don’t know if it’s the cherubic way their faces look when they’re all scrunched up in REM sleep or if it’s the sweet relief that comes when they aren’t bothering me for anything, but watching a child sleep is like getting a backrub while someone braids your hair as unicorns prance on the horizon and clouds rain down glitter. In others words, sleeping babies are magical and make you feel like all is right in the world. And given the shitshow that is life sometimes, I do not want to forget that feeling.
3. What it felt like to be home alone with a crying baby all day
It was suffocating, stifling, and lonely. But as much as I think I would like to erase that feeling from my subconscious, remembering what it was like to be home all day with a newborn is what reminds me to pick up the phone and call new moms, despite the fact that I absolutely hate talking on the phone.
4. How sweat-inducing public tantrums can be
5. The way my husband looked when he held our sons for the first time
I might have been hemorrhaging and swimming in a pool of my own blood, but I still haven’t forgotten the look on my husband’s face when he held our sons for the first time. I hope I never do. Though I wouldn’t mind erasing the memory of the doctor saying, “Wow, that’s a lot of blood!”
6. The victory dances that happened after the kids were FINALLY in bed
There are few times when I feel like I had this parenting this down, and most of those times are when I walk down the hall after putting my kids to bed and hear nothing but sweet, sweet silence.
7. My parenting fails
When my son was 4 months old, I accidently locked myself out of the house while he was inside alone. When he was 6 months old, he fell out of the Bumbo seat. Onto the table. And then onto the floor. When he was 18 months old, he tumbled down a flight of stairs. Some might call these parenting fails. I call them accidents. Mistakes. And remembering those accidents, mistakes, and parenting fails is what keeps us from becoming sanctimonious douchebags that make parenting that much harder.
8. My parenting victories
Sometimes our parenting victories can get lost amidst the tantrums and the whining and how-much-is-too-much-screen-time guilt trips. There have been far too many nights when I’ve put my head on my pillow to the sound of a running tally of the day’s missteps, and the victories get lost in the shuffle. Not to mention the fact that the victories can seem like no big deal because it is what we expect of ourselves as decent, loving parents.
But believe me, it is no small feat to listen to a 30-minute story about Minecraft without falling asleep or to teach a child to tie their shoes without letting loose a string of eff bombs. No small feat indeed. We need to remember these minor (and major) victories because some days they’re the only thing keeping us from taking up day drinking.
It’s no secret that memories fade — and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I mean, who wouldn’t want to forget that awful incident that can only be referred to as Poopgate 2014? And given that I routinely walk into a room only to forget what it was I came into the room for, I would say there’s a good chance the memory of Poopgate 2014 will fade pretty quickly. But I kind of hope not. Because someday — probably not any day soon, but someday — it will be a really funny story. I think.