Saturday, February 9, 2013

I forget...

I have a terrible memory. Always have.

I always lose my keys and phone and find them in strange places, like my closet or in the bathroom.

I constantly forget birthdays and phone numbers.

I forget about appointments and double-book myself all the time.

I'll go to the store to get eggs and milk and get distracted and walk out half an hour later, arm laden with bags which have everything but eggs and milk.

But I'm cool with it.  Like I said, I've had a terrible memory forever and I've learned to deal.

What I'm not cool with is forgetting stuff that I really care about.  Stuff that I really, really wish I could remember.

Today I was babysitting my nephew and he was crying and for the life of me, I couldn't remember how I used stop my own babies from crying almost a decade ago.

That is only one example of things I've forgotten about that's starting to get to me.

I've forgotten how it feels to be 10.  Sure, I remember making prank calls to pizza joints with my friends in the middle of the night and loving Cindy Lauper and Kirk Cameron.  But there's a lot of other stuff I didn't know I forgot until I started seeing them in my daughter.  I forgot that I, too, hated wearing jeans and only wore sweatpants for an entire year.  I forgot about the crazy mood swings for no reason that start when your about 10 and having you crying over not liking the restaurant your parents have chosen for dinner or the fact that all the girls on the playground were singing Annie songs at recess and they wouldn't let you sing along. I wish I remembered that things like that made me feel like my world was ending.  I wish I remembered that so I could be a better and more understanding mom to my daughter and I would know the right things to say.

I wish I could remember how it felt to be 13.  Sure, I remember getting crappy marks and not really caring and loving my Reebok high-tops and truly not being cold when my mom told me I should be cold. But there's a lot of other stuff I forgot until I started seeing them in my son.  I forgot that I, too, would often rather be alone than be with friends. I forgot that I felt self-conscious about a lot of stuff and my mom trying to talk to me about it made it a thousand times worse and a million times more embarrassing. I forgot that I wanted to be left alone to make my own decisions and that I thought I was smarter than pretty much any adult I knew…and cooler too. I wish I remembered that so I could be a better and more understanding mom to my son and I would know the right things to say.

The worst part about forgetting all that stuff?  I can remember that it happened, but I can't remember how it felt.  And that's why I'm struggling…because if I can't remember how it feels when they're sad or mad or confused, I can't understand what they need to help them not feel sad or mad or confused.

Eight years ago, I worked with this woman who I thought was a bit of a fuddy-duddy.  She was close to retirement and set in her ways and-in my opinion-no fun at all.  It was clear that she thought as highly of me as I of her.  One day, I was looking at her and behind her furrowed brow and pursed mouth, I could see the younger, carefree, and (dare I say) fun woman she used to be.  It occurred to me that one day, I could be like her. I could be a woman who simply forgot how to be young, how to have fun.

That thought grew into fear.  I feared that one day, I might forget how it felt to be me.

I decided to get a tattoo.  I figured that if and when I forgot about me, I would have the permanent reminder of the woman I used to be.  Someone asked me about what would happen when I'm old and wrinkly and grey, would I still want my tattoo then?  I said that was precisely why I got it.  So that when I am old and wrinkly and grey and have grandchildren, I can tell them that I was once the kind of woman who ran marathons, and who sang really badly at the top of her lungs, and who ate Big Macs in bed while watching chick flicks, and who got tattoos from a joint down on Queen street while squeezing their grandfather's hand.
 I'm the flower, my husband is the L-shape vine I'm attached to, and the two little petals falling away from me are my daughter and son.  Now you know what my tattoo is…but you don't know where it is.

Today after babysitting my nephew, I watched The Notebook for the 10th time.  And for the 10th time, I cried.  But this time, the reason I cried was different.  I cried because I was finally beginning to understand how it feels to forget.  And how truly sad and truly scary that is.

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