Words cannot describe how much I love this writer’s work. For nearly a decade, as a friendship that began in undergrad, we’ve witnessed some of the most important moments in each other’s lives. I can say without a doubt that regardless of our friendship, I utterly adore her writing. Check it out!
The Making & Forgetting of Memories by Erin Decoste
I haven’t been writing much. It’s not that I don’t want to write, more that I’m finding I can’t. (Not the truest statement, since I obviously just wrote this). But I’ve been feeling a lack of motivation and just a general exhaustion brought on by an extremely busy month.
And even though I haven’t written much, I’ve been feeling very introspective. Something about the month of September seems to set that off in me. The air stirs just enough to let you know change is here, that summer is quickly becoming a fading memory, and it’s time to break out the jackets.
Thinking of the beginning of fall got me thinking of something else this month brings, and no I don’t mean my wedding anniversary (sorry honey).
I’m thinking wasps, nasty, horrible, no-good, awful wasps.
Last year at about this time, Claire got stung by a wasp. We were walking along the boardwalk in the beach with a friend and her baby. Claire screamed out and I had no idea what happened. I couldn’t see anything and being nine months old she couldn’t tell me. I eventually saw that her poor hand was swollen and I figured it was a wasp. That area was inundated with those flying harbingers of pain.
I felt so bad. It was nothing that some baby Benadryl and lots of cuddles couldn’t mend, but I was a mess.
Wracked with guilt, I kept a watchful eye on her all day. And even though she forgot about it almost as quickly as it happened, I dwelt on it for days.
Recently I was telling some coworkers this story. We were all sharing our tales of being stung or chased by those little buggers and I brought up Claire’s story. It wasn’t until days later when I realized that hey, I was also stung last year! Shortly after Claire and in the hand as well! I had forgotten all about my own injury, and was instead so focused on my child that it didn’t even register.
And then that realization made me wonder what else I’ve forgotten or glossed over in the last two years of parenthood. There’s a lot of general knowledge in society surrounding the forgetfulness of motherhood. They say women forget the pain of labour - sure… not buying it. But there are moments and ideas that I do forget (at least in the “oh, it wasn’t so bad” way): how hellish the first three months were, Claire’s unrelenting colicky screams, what exactly severe sleep deprivation feels like, and of course, me.
The work of parenting can bring on a foggy amnesia that only now I’m feeling free of. I’m breaking out of the stupor and feeling more like my true self - a different true self - but an authentic one. It also helps that Claire sleeps all through the night now (only took her 18 months, no big deal).
I still forget a lot, like my lunch, or that I was supposed to text someone back, or that there’s no milk in the fridge, again. At times it feels like my brain is a leaky colander, barely containing the the stringy mess of pasta that is my memory. But at other times I’m almost brought to my knees by the clarity of certain memories - the silly ones, the poignant ones, and sometimes the mundane ones.
They’re all there somewhere, buried in varying layers in my mind. I know I’m never going to remember everything about the early days of parenthood and I think that that’s maybe a blessing and a curse.