My middle sister, Shayna, had her first — and, according to her, “only” — child 18 days ago. During her contractions, and before her epidural kicked in, she announced that she’d never, ever go through the pain of labour again. “My next baby is coming from China or Africa or somewhere else — not from me,” she whined (and shouted) in pain. Minutes after she gave birth, and in a completely dazed, confused and sore-from-an-episiotomy state, she once again declared that this is it — Sebastian won’t be getting another sibling unless he or she is adopted. My mother, trying to offer her daughter support, calmly said, “Don’t worry; you won’t even remember the pain in a couple days. You’ll be so happy you have your baby that the pain won’t even be a memory.” I’m pretty sure Shayna tore her a new one, then dozed off.
Last weekend, while visiting my new nephew (who Peyps calls “Bastchen,” which is absolutely what his Auntie Lisa is going to call him, too), my mom, very calmly, asked Shayna if she felt differently about having another baby, now that it’s been a couple weeks and the pain has subsided. Apparently, the memory of labour and childbirth is still too fresh in her postpartum mind. And again, I’m pretty sure Shayna tore her a new one.
While I’m sure my sister will change her tune and forget about the awful parts of her childbirth experience after motherhood sets in (I mean, it’s only been 18 days since she gave birth), I know there are memories I have that I wish I could forget, but that’s not my style. My best friend (who has known me for more than 25 years) often teases me about my shockingly good long-term memory. (My short-term memory kind of sucks, but I’m assuming that has to do with stress, exhaustion, mommy brain and, well, um, ahem, age.) I remember the most random details about people, places, dates, smells and happenings. Because of this kind-of annoying quality, I have memories I wish I could forget… but I can’t.
I’ve blogged about the first 13 days of Addy’s life before. While I’ve forced myself to block out much of that time, I vividly remember being hunched over in the shower (in pain after my C-section) crying the loudest and hardest I’ve ever cried in my life — you’d think someone close to me had died. Even these days, I often think about being in our bed in the house we brought Addy home to, physically and emotionally suffering, staring at the pink bundle who I’d wished and hoped for, and not caring whether or not I lived or died, or whether she lived or died. It’s an incredibly hard thing to admit, but it’s true. And I wish I could get that memory out of my mind. Even though I know it was PPD, and I know it was the messed-up hormonal chemistry in my brain that was making me sad, foggy and crazy, that haunting feeling still hurts.
I have memories of getting so upset and frustrated with my kids that I’ve sworn at them, and talked horribly to them, and been rude to them. I’d like to forget that. And I’m glad they won’t remember. (Though they will read this someday.) These aren’t traits for a good Mother-of-the-Year candidate, I know.
I have memories of completely losing my mind and fighting with Peter. In a postpartum depression rage (and during a fight that had something to do with the baby — he probably heated her bottle wrong, or didn’t throw away a dirty diaper, or something stupid), I once threatened I’d leave and take Addy with me. I remember him holding her in our kitchen while I stood swinging and screaming at him; he looked at me like I was an escapee from the mental hospital in the town east of us. He refused to hand her over to me.
I hate to be a downer (too late, right?), but there are so many things that I wish I could forget, that it sometimes clouds the happy moments. And while these memories fester, new moments — moments I won’t be proud of; moments that I’ll end up wishing I would just forget — will occur. (I mean, I’ve only been a mom for four years; I’m still a rookie.)
I’m curious: What experiences have you had as a parent that you wish you could forget? What not-so-great memories are you holding onto? I’m hoping that releasing some of mine into the blogosphere will be cathartic — maybe it will be for you, too. (And, luckily, you have the gift of anonymity on your side.)