Mothers are blessed with a peculiar form of amnesia that erases the emotions, smells, and personal pain of motherhood–I call this event Momnesia. And I think that you need to just let the Momnesia take over and white out all the messy, disgusting, and hurty things that have happened to you as Mom. It helps you to feel less bitter toward your children.
Before I had my first child I wrote a list of things that scared me about becoming a parent. One of these fears was that maybe children really weren’t all that great, but that your brain just screwed you over when you gave birth and you could no longer remember all of the bad things associated with having children. It turns out that this is correct to an extent–you remember, but it doesn’t seem all that important.
Although childbirth hurt a good amount, I find myself totally believing it was worth the pain and downplaying the effort in my memory. Although I begin to gag when I hear people hock up a chunk of spit, I picked up scoops of barf with my bare hands while wearing heels and a skirt because my baby girl was sick. I have changed feces-filled diapers at gas stations, in the trunk AND bucket seats of my car (the trunk was easier), and on the floor of a Target bathroom. I have not slept through the night for a solid week in four years. I have been peed on, pooped on, thrown up on, bitten while nursing, kicked while sleeping, and horribly embarrassed during a public temper tantrum. And I just don’t care.
Momnesia is why, even though we had a recent car ride that resulted in gonzo vomiting, I’m still planning to drive the kids to Disney World, ride on some spinning teacups, and get back in the car for a really long time. Momnesia allows me put the kids to bed every night totally assuming that we will all sleep until 7:30. Momnesia lets the kids snuggle up to me in bed or on the couch even when I know this is the greatest likelihood of someone sneezing in my mouth. Momnesia is why my daughter has a baby brother.
I once really feared that this would happen–that I wouldn’t remember how bad things were, but that some biological imperative would convince me that I needed children. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be me anymore and that the new me wouldn’t even notice that my life was gross. What if motherhood changed my perception of myself and the world around me and I didn’t like the changes? I lived a fairly self-centered existence with a lot of free time before my kids–what if I lost that girl? What if I now found myself making decisions for other people instead of for myself? All these fears might be true of my life now, but fortunately for me, I can’t remember.