The Phenomenon of Forgetting

Have you noticed when asking a seasoned Mom for advice on something specific, their first response is usually “Uhm, let me think…” This is usually followed up by a confounded, “I don’t remember.”

The puzzled look on their face shows that they’re a bit disappointed that they haven’t held onto every detail about something that was at one point, their entire focus. For instance, I was asked recently how I introduced solids to Bankston and I couldn’t believe that after all my time and research during that stage, I couldn’t recall the order in which we introduced his foods or if we used rice cereal, and I had no idea how often he ate in the beginning. Mind you, homeboy is 10-months-old right now, so I did this like, yesterday, in mom time.

For you, maybe this phenomenon of forgetfulness comes as vows to yourself that with your next baby, you will write down every detail of your birth story, or will remember to describe the first time you held them, or smelled that “baby smell,” in attempts to will these things into permanence.  We tell our husbands that “this time around” we need more videos, pictures, and journal entries. Despite our attempts and promises, these things never happen. Well, I’m trying to unwrap why this occurs – maybe in hopes of embracing the forgetfulness and trading in the remorse (and sometimes the guilt) and turning the vows to “do things differently” into ones that encourage us to stay present and to love the season we’re in.

(Was he ever really 6 days old?)

I firmly believe that we have one of the most emotionally jam packed jobs in the world.

One that weighs heavy on our identity and our hearts because it seems that when we blink, three months have gone by and we’re up late at night surfing through our instagrams on the verge of tears, because it feels like we haven’t catalogued enough to justify how much our children have changed. Well news flash ladies, whether it feels like it or not, we were there for every moment.

It could be that we got so caught up in cheering for their every second that we were too emotionally exhausted to journal the big milestones after they’d gone to bed and if that’s the case, as I pray it is, then we should happily forget the details.

(Wait, he was JUST 6 months old!)

I am not a fan of cliche motivational posters or sayings, but there’s got to be something to the fact that most contain advice to stay in the present, let go of the past, and let tomorrow worry about itself. As much as I don’t like to say this, they’re right. I’m so awful at borrowing trouble from the past and the future that at times, I feel guilt about my guilt. So how dare I waste my (limited) time and energy wishing I had done things differently, had journaled more during Banks’ 8th month when he finally seemed to recognize this big world and began rushing out to explore it, when teeth broke through, and we got our first stomach virus. Because even if the details end up running together and it’s twenty years from now when I suddenly recall how shocked I was when I first discovered just HOW HOT a baby gets when they have a fever, or how the smell of a spring rain reminds me of the three day window Banks enjoyed sleeping with me while he was teething. I will consider myself blessed that I lived in the moment with him rather than wasting away the present wishing to re-do the past. And PS, God and I had a long talk about heaven and how when I get there I’m going to need access to a room with a screen where I can replay any part of my life, whenever I want and he said that was cool. So there’s always that.

The Phenomenon of Forgetting | Denver Metro Moms Blog

(This is me embracing the moment.)

If we were able to remember every detail of the sleepless weeks, the hormonal fluctuations, and the relational tensions, they would all re-write the beauty and joy that comes in the small victories, like new vowels and facial expressions, or beginning to recognize when “Dada” is in the driveway. There’s a beauty to this forgetfulness that allows us to hold onto the fond memories, chuck out the bad, and look with hope toward “next babies” or with peace at the conclusion of the era of adding more.

Truthfully, if we could recall just how bad the bags under our eyes got or how much we loathed making lists and trips to the grocery store, I’m not sure our children would ever have siblings.

I love how we write off this phenomenon of forgetfulness as “pregnancy brain” for one season, just to watch it become “mom brain” for the next 15, but what this says to me is that we are designed to be equipped solely for the seasons we’re in. To be present and to fully immerse ourselves into the little worlds of our children. To ditch our big world vision and expectations, our phones, journals, and the wistful feelings we get when looking at our hospital photos, feeling like it’s all been a blur.

We should be content to have forgotten the details, knowing we were all-in for every moment because our children will remember that detail.

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