Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Forgetting

Today, after I dropped Munchkin off at daycare, I drove right back home. I staggered up the stairs yanking shut the curtains as I yanked off my skirt, grabbing my earplugs and shuffling over to Pynchon's side of the bed. I have a terrible sinus infection, you see, and all. I. want. to. do. is. sleep. And Pynchon's side has the alarm, which has a nap function to assure I don't sleep longer than two hours. I set it. I crawled in on this not-my-side of the bed and snuggled myself down.

And felt immediately, unbearably sad. You see, I'm forgetting things I thought were etched in my memory forever, acid-burned grooves on the brittle tin surface of my consciousness that are, it seems, rusting over into something softer, less distinct.

Pynchon and I change sides of the bed every six months or so, mostly because he has a tendency to sleep on top of me. On his back. If we change sides, it takes a couple of months for his subconscious to change direction. Since Munchkin's been born, we've changed spots a couple of times, and the first night that I sleep on the 'wrong' side I'm struck hard by a sense memory of my last tenure in that location: "Wow," I'll think to myself, "last time I was here was the night I went into labour," or, "When I was on this side of the bed, I had to get up twice every night in the cold to feed her? Do you remember the screaming?" It wasn't a recollection, not like I was thinking back. It was more a forceful collision of the now with what my body had come to expect from a certain sleeping position, on this side or the other, near to the window or near to the closet. Like both now and then were real and coexisting, like suddenly Munchkin was six months old and a newborn.

Today, though, today I lay down and I just felt ... tired. Sick, and headachy. The pillow and the sheet smelled like Pynchon. The quality of light was a little different on this side than on mine. But Munchkin was still a toddler, and I was assaulted by no overwhelming physical sense of a different time for us. No suddenly being in the moment of going into labour, no sense of those first three months, no shiver of long and dark winter nights, sleeptraining and sleep-deprived.

I'm losing that time. I can feel it slip through my fingers, time that was so raw and intense and all-consuming. I don't really remember what it was like to be pregnant. I don't remember what it was like to stay home with my newborn Miss Baby. I look at the pictures now and they seem to be of other people. I wonder, "What did I do all day with her?" and think, "Gosh, she sure was cute." I know (in part from what I've written here) that I felt housebound and desperate, and that she cried a lot more than the photos suggest, but I don't feel it like a punch in my stomach the way I used to. The way the four-song rotation on her travel mobile used to make me anxious and nauseous, even if she wasn't in the house? It's all gone. I'm forgetting.

You know how I really know? The one really clear memory I retain from those early months is my incredulity when people would fondly pat Miss Baby and say wistfully, "Ahhh, it goes so fast." "No it doesn't," I wanted to shout. "It's terrible and long and gruelling and terrifying and dull and isolating and nervewrackin and I've never slept so little and done so much." But now? Now I kinda feel like it's gone so fast. And it's never coming back.

Mama? Wake up! Let's go play.

17 comments:

slouching mom said...

Oh, yes. I have moments where I'm just done in by how fast it's all going.

But then something or other unimportant requires my attention, and I forget about my angst, until the next time it slaps me in the face.

She is still young, though. (In a relative sense.) And cute, too!

slouching mom said...

And please, feel better! Sinus infections blow.

Kyla said...

She is a doll!

I have a kidnergartener! Talk about it going too quickly. I think forgetting stems from the biological need to procreate. If we vividly remembered what pregnancy, birth, and mothering a newborn was like; very few of us would sign up for it again.

Feel better soon.

motherbumper said...

OMG, I'm totally with you on this - I can barely remember it, it has gone so fast.

I hope you feel better soon.

NotSoSage said...

Oh, sinus infections. Ugh. I hope you feel better soon.

And yes, I'm with Kyla, it's the universe's devious plan to make us think, "That wasn't so bad! Let's try again." There's a reason that most siblings are 2-3 years apart in age.

Omaha Mama said...

Today my children went to daycare while I stayed home. Sinusitis. I took a two-hour nap.

I relate to your memories thing. I scrapbook, I think, to hold on to some of the fading memories. I love to think back. But it is dulling around the edges. It's becoming less intense. I so totally get what you are saying. What makes up for it though, are how the kids are so much fun now. And it just keeps getting better and better. So at least there's that.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I agree with Kyla and Sage. My kids, after all, are 2 1/2 years apart...

Beck said...

My kids are all EXACTLY three years apart. They get to about 27 months old and I start thinking "WE ARE OUT OF BABIES!".
The Baby is JUST that age right now... oh oh.
But I do think that we're so stuck in the DAYS that last for thirteen weeks, these horrible bogged-down hours, that we don't notice how years are fleeting by around us. My oldest is EIGHT now. My BABY.

Amy U. said...

Munchkin is so sweet!

Graham wants to switch sides of the bed. I refuse. REFUSE!

bubandpie said...

Yup. The amnesia - a biological imperative. You know what it was like, because you wrote it down at the time, but somehow you can't quite recapture that feeling. It's all just a bit hypothetical.

Time start trying for #2?

Bon said...

i too have that clear memory of staring agog at the old biddies in the store who would pat and coo and say "enjoy every moment. it goes so fast" while i was so sleep-deprived and stressed i could barely stand up.

but you're right. the immediacy of that feeling is gone. i do still have flashes of body memory, where i'm taken to places in my pregnancies or when O was a newborn, transported to those other worlds of before. but they are fading. and i mourn them a little, discombobulating though they are.

but i'm with the others...it makes it easier to think about another, for sure.

nomotherearth said...

I second B&P in that it's at that moment that people begin to try for #2.

I have the same feeling you have, only added to that is the fact that I will have newborn soon. And I keep thinking - what the heck do I do with a newborn?? I don't know how to take care of babies! It's freaking me out a bit. Okay, a lot.

cinnamon gurl said...

I KNOW!

And I hope you feel better soon!

Christine said...

i so felt this deep inside. i sometime sit in the rocker in my son's room and remember nursing him late at night listening to muddy waters and I realize it is all gone now.

sigh.

moosh in indy. said...

Sinus infections are worse than newborns. Except they only last a week at most.
I have flashbacks too the same way you just described them, scary, but it keeps the baby hunger in check.

crazymumma said...

you gotta know how beautiful and sad that was don't you?

I know. It all seems so endless, and then all of a sudden you are straining to remember the things you swore you would never forget.

I love how which side of the bed you were on triggers memories for you, different light different smells.

What animals we all are for all of our higher evolution.

ewe are here said...

It's remarkable how much we do 'forget' about the first few months of our wee ones... to me, it does go by very quickly, though... especially with my almost 6 months old... I keep looking at their pictures thinking about how much they've changed in such a short amount of time!