If you were to ask my husband what my best trait is, he would probably say my bad memory. And after I’ve put my pride aside (you mean it’s not my hot mombod?) I would have to agree. For some reason, good times tend to stick with me while the bad get forgotten. Definitely some kind of psychological coping mechanism of which I’m not aware. Through all our ups and downs, first as a couple and now as a zoo family of seven, my faulty memory has been incredibly useful.
It is a proper zoo in here these days. A few weeks ago, we adopted a 3-month-old puppy to add to our two cats, one baby, and probable cockroaches.
And when you’ve got four not-quite-toilet-trained minions—that’s the worst in-between, isn’t it?—selective memory becomes especially valuable. (Thankfully my husband is toilet-trained, most of the time.) Anyways, it means a lot of disrupted nap times (thanks to the cat-dog choir). A lot of cat-dog-baby mediation (because surprise, surprise, cats don’t like their tails pulled). And a heck of a lot of poop, and not always where it’s supposed to go (my hands will never be clean again…). If I didn’t have bad memory, I would have probably gone insane or ran away multiple times.
Which brings me to this thought: Yes, we hear of the parents who brag about all their kids’ accomplishments, first in the math decathlon or whatever. But what seems more to be the case are parents who anti-brag. And by anti-brag I mean, my child is the worst eater/sleeper/devil-child incarnate and can you believe he did this the other day? (Which, if it means poop on the freshly-cleaned sofa, is my little potato last week. Or vomit on said sofa the week after. Oops yes I’m 100% guilty of this too.)
But how useful is all this anti-bragging anyway? It’s the dance we do, the stories of endless stresses I assault my husband with as he walks in the door from work (sorry hun!), as if telling it somehow legitimises our pain.
And does it? It’s a fleeting reprieve but at the expense of cementing these stresses into my memory. And parenting starts to feel hard, really hard.
Now don’t get me wrong, parenting is hard. Like pushing-a-bowling-ball-out-of-your-lady-parts hard. But is that the primary association you want when you think of your kids? Yes they can be difficult at times and your patience feels as stretched as your ever-expanding muffin top. But I am alarmed how often I need to remind myself that parenting is also a joy. A privilege. A *#$%-ing good challenge!
Where else would you get the chance to laugh every other moment because your 1-year-old son has gotten into your clothes and is parading around in your bra (again). Or receive copious slobbery-but-adoring kisses? Or see wonder again over the first snowfall (or rainfall here…) through a child’s eyes?
Years ago, during rough times, I started writing down happy and funny memories on Post-its and stuck them to the wall. Those are the memories that got reinforced while others are forgotten (see, mombod aside, my best trait). And on an especially trying day, I scroll down my list and soon enough, start feeling a ridiculously excessive love for this little potato. And the stresses of the four-hour lullaby or the bare-handed poop catch nearly melt away. Nearly.
So while a complete end to anti-bragging is impractical—because c’mon, when the $#!+ literally hits the fan, you can’t just keep it to yourself—let’s employ a bit of selective memory and nip that sigh in the bud when someone asks us how our little monsters angels were today.