I came up on this article today:
Nice. Seemingly real yet sentimental. Gives you that validation but oh-so-warm fuzzy feeling.
I am sure it must’ve been real epiphany and a sense of hope for this person who wrote it. Kudos to her. However, the little critical voice in me kept asking, but what about the amnesia that happens?
Do we mothers remember our full second-by-second labor and birth story? Or the minute-by-minute account of those days in the first year or two of our children’s lives? Do we remember the tantrums of the Terrible Twos and Threes as we inch towards our children’s 9th birthday, or teenage birthday? Probably not.
It happens to us all. The amnesia. The old couple who made that comment and brought about an epiphany for this woman in the article may probably also have had amenisa for those years their children were young, like we all do.
My sister had just given birth to a new born baby about one and half week ago. I remember visiting her when she gave birth to her first born a couple of years ago. I held him in my arms. How soft he was. The mother instinct in me was ignited. I briefly remembered my own children’s infant years, what it felt like to hold them. Then soon after, I was reminded about the constant crying, the frequent diaper changing, the endless feeding, the inability to carry out or finish any sort of adult conversation, and the difficulty in doing anything else around the house, with that dose of sleeplessness. And though my nephew was so cute, and I love my children so much, I could never ever in my life think of having another child again, to ever go through this again. I had done it twice. More than enough. Thank you.
I did have that experience of wanting to relive those warm fuzzy feelings and bliss of infancy and joy of toddler wonder. That was why I had a second child. I even toyed with the idea of a third. I thought to myself then, this couldn’t be that hard. It was just diaper changing and feeding. Why was I so flustered all the time? Maybe it was the first time mother thing. I’ve more experience now, and I know better, I told myself. But when that second child came around, I fully realized it was the amnesia talking. Yes, it was only diaper changing. It was only feeding. It was only holding the baby endlessly. But there was something between the space of me doing these things and the baby needing me completely that there was a collapse of any form of personal sanity. Having children means chaos in your life. And chaos is chaos. It’s insane.
There is a reason why neurosis and psychosis in Freudian and Psychoanalytic theory is explained as regression to infancy or a fixed stage in childhood. As my husband always said, children are insane. There is no logic. It doesn’t mean they are not smart or cannot think. But their perspectives, their emotions are what, in psycho-mumbo-jumbo jargon, we call Beta elements. Undigested, unprocessed, unfiltered experiences. And you have to live with that day in and day out. You have to live in a semi-psychotic world and then try to make sense of if, as if you can. You have to be neurotic as a parent – that constant preoccupation with your children.
“Did you eat enough?”
“Did you shower yet?”
“Are you spending too much time on the screen?”
“Are you doing any reading or homework or piano practice?”
“Are you hurting your sibling with the way you bicker?”
Are you learning to be violent?
Are you getting the right kind of formal or informal education to be successful in life?
The constant worries and anxieties. This is what we call neurosis. I remember when our children were babies in their cribs, we wondered, is he still breathing? Is she too warm in the swaddle?
Then the tantrums begin, and trying to explain to them the consequences, trying to reason with them to guide their behaviors are futile attempts. Tell a 2 year old why their banana cannot be put back together again after it’s broken into two pieces.
Yes, this too shall pass. And there are precious moments when they say the most intelligent and funniest things. There are the oxytocin feast with the constant cuddles. It is not all bad, I know. But it is also hard work.
And somehow, humans happen to just dismiss that hard work. To simply enter a state of amnesia. Maybe instead of nostalgia, maybe a dose of validation, of “Been there, done that, and survived to tell about it” might be more real and helpful. I think our society has a tendency to sugarcoat things. Let’s just tell it like it is. No frills. No filters.
Word Up. Word Out, Lay Low, My Mothas.