Keeping the memories close
Lately I’ve had to write all my thoughts down to have any chance of remembering them later.
I give the new baby in my life all the credit.
I make lists of feedings amounts and diaper changes in a spiral-bound notebook next to my bed. I write down ideas for columns or names of songs I like on the Head and the Heart station on Pandora. Because I know they will drift from my memory as soon as I lay my head down to sleep.
Somehow, I used to remember so much more.
If I were a superhero, that would’ve been one of my special powers. Remembering everything comes in handy at class reunions, but not always so much in relationships. I could recall what people said to me in the past, random thoughts and jokes or old acquaintances’ names on demand.
Sleep deprivation and hormone villains have compromised my superhuman abilities.
I do know that keeping lists and notes, even the barely coherent scribbles in the middle of the night, will help me avoid regret. I want to remember all those little details about first becoming a mom, even though the first few days are fuzzy for me. I know 18 years from now, when Will is heading out into the world, I’ll be reminiscing over his life while planning his graduation party.
And I’ll want to remember.
There are so many little things that have been saving my sanity as I take on motherhood, like the love and emotional support of my own mother. She has helped me with everything from picking out baby blue curtains with white clouds for Will’s nursery to helping load him into the car for his 2-month vaccinations. And the tremendous help I’ve had from Will’s paternal grandmother Joyce. As well as the street smarts my friends who are mothers have shared who know exactly what I’m experiencing.
Although most of them have teenagers at this point.
I would hate to forget how much friendship has played such a big part in helping me be a new mom. Knowing I can call my best friend at any hour of the day or night — she promises she doesn’t mind and will try to answer — is worth a gigantic vat of breastmilk.
That stuff is like liquid gold.
Or remembering that sweet moment of seeing our house she and her youngest son decorated with “It’s a Boy!” signs and balloons when we brought Will home after almost nine weeks at the hospital. She really knows how to make a girl cry.
In a good way, of course.
I want to remember how much I thanked the universe for modern conveniences that made parenthood much easier than my motherly ancestors experienced. Automated baby swings with vibrating seats that play nature sounds and lullabies should be on the list of the greatest inventions of all time. As should easy-fold strollers.
And hospital-grade breast pumps.
I still don’t know how my Great-grandma Wilson had six kids, two of whom were twins, at home and raised them in a tiny farmhouse in Altamont, Illinois, without all our parenting perks. The power of preemie-sized diapers, sensitive skin baby wipes and that Head and the Heart Pandora station should not be underestimated. Sleep bags for safe sleeping at bedtime are pretty rad, too.
Lactation cookies are also a thing I didn’t know would forever change my life.
Even Facebook has been there for me when encouragement from friends all over the country — and even an old Glenwood friend Candace who’s a new mom in England — shortened those long days sitting bedside in the hospital as Will thrived. The enthusiastic positivity in the comments and the kind personal instant messages kept my head up and helped me focus on powering through the challenging stuff. Like pumping, breastfeeding and drinking prune juice and mineral oil.
I still can’t stomach that oil with no taste.
There are also those bittersweet moments when I look down at Will and wish he would stay a baby forever. Sure, I capture plenty of photos of him. The modern convenience of smart phones and tablets help make that happen. But there are times the camera doesn’t reflect the innocent peacefulness that blankets his face as he snoozes. Or funny reactions to my off-key singing of “Hush, Little Baby.”
I’ll have to rely on my memory for that last one.
April E. Clark wishes her mom, Grandma Dian, the happiest of birthdays today. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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