I’ve heard a lot about labor amnesia, which is apparently a thing where your body forgets the pain it felt while squeezing out a baby—or in my case, having your insides sliced open, your baby scooped out, and then being stapled back together. I don’t have labor amnesia. Sure, some details are fuzzy, but I know that there was a lot of vomiting and pain. Worth mentioning is that most of Savannah, where I gave birth is paved with cobblestones. Bumping along over that mess on your way to Kroger where those sweet, sweet pain pills await without popping a staple or shoving your husband’s face into the steering wheel should qualify you for some kind of award.
No. In fact, all someone has to do is mention words like “mucus plug”, “dilation”, and “Chux pad” and my uterus will begin to crawl higher up into my abdomen in an attempt to disappear as the vivid memory of labor settles in.
You know what I do have? Baby amnesia. It seems that as soon as my child progresses through a stage of development, I forget all about it. As far as I know, she’s been seven years old forever, and there was never a time that she didn’t sleep like the dead, make her own sandwiches, take showers, and use the bathroom without assistance.
She is the quintessential “good kid”. She says “please” and “thank you” and “excuse me” and reads books and doesn’t sneak candy. I have had to remind her more than once not to call me “ma’am”, something she’s picked up in Texas but makes me feel super weird, like I’m some kind of overlord Joan Crawford type. She’s not perfect, but she’s easy. The mistake people make is assuming that I made her this way. We had her in college, and my husband and I like to say that she is not the child we deserved but rather the child we needed at the time in order to not kill one another and/or set the apartment on fire.
Sometimes, people will think that I’m being modest instead of honest, and foolishly hand me their child, assuming that it will be happy, healthy, and know its alphabet when I hand it back. Sorry, but I can only guarantee that if you hand me your kid it will be alive when you get it back because I have zero idea how to handle or interact with your little human unless it is the same age as my little human.
I like babysitting, but I am super sucktastic at it because I no longer have the formula to water ratio memorized, don’t remember any of my foolproof potty training tricks, and I don’t even know where to buy outlet covers or how to operate a toilet lock anymore.
For instance, I once volunteered to change my niece’s clothes when the child was about six months old. 45 minutes later, my sister in law came to check on me and I had to confess that I still hadn’t gotten a onesie on her because while I used to put onesies on my own kid every day, I no longer understood how you could fit a massive baby head into a tiny onesie head hole without snapping the child’s neck, and could she just change the kid, after all?
The truth is, no one ever saw me as a mother, least of all me, and to be honest I only made an exception the one time with my own kid because she was just so damn cute. There are some mothers that are born to do this job. They can lull the colickiest kid to sleep with one hand while dicing organic cucumbers into non-chokable bite sized pieces with the other. As these mothers get older, and their kids grow up, they have a wealth of knowledge to draw upon that makes them go-to sources for the neophyte parents out there and I can tell you that I am not that person. I admire that person, but I am not that person.
Surprisingly, do you know who that person is in my family? My husband. He’s been dubbed the baby-whisperer by our friends for his uncanny ability to get kids to shut their cryholes for one second so they can play a game or eat some Goldfish.
This is another thing I don’t remember. I had always assumed that I was the primary—and flawlessly maternal—caregiver for our child, because I am now. Baby amnesia strikes again. I had two jobs and a full courseload when my kid was a baby. I think I really only saw her when she slept, so hubs must have been the primary. The magnitude of my selective memory all came flooding back to me one morning when a close friend dropped her baby with me for four hours.
I could tell this was going to be easy. I had done this. I used to spend four hours with my kid when she was a baby, and nothing bad ever really happened. My husband doesn’t have to be at work until midmorning, so he kept the baby occupied for two hours, giggling and cooing and doing adorable baby stuff. Then he left.
I got on the floor to keep the kid company during tummy time, and I said. “Okay, kid. We’ve got two hours until your mother gets here. Just you and me. What do you want to do?”
The answer was cry.
She wanted to cry for two hours, which she did, and when her mother showed up she wasn’t surprised. I was apologizing over and over for not being able to make her kid happy, which she laughed off.
“She’s a baby. Babies cry.”
I don’t remember my kid crying that often, but she must have. I don’t remember potty training sucking that bad until my husband reminds me that it took almost two years and one prolapsed rectum (don’t google that) to accomplish. I don’t remember training her to eat solids being too much of a chore until another of my friends showed up with yogurt and mashed peas in her hair, a zombie-like mask of sleep deprivation on her face, begging me to tell her that it gets better, that it gets easier.
I couldn’t tell her that, but I can do you one better.
Give it a few years, you’ll forget all about it.