When I was pregnant, we set up an email address for Ben. Only Quinn and I have it. I had the intention of writing Ben letters from time to time, with the hope that he would someday read them when he’s older and be able to understand his mother for the person she was, both before he was born and when he was too young to form lasting memories. As we approach Ben’s second birthday, I have written three of these letters. I keep forgetting he has an email address.
I keep forgetting a lot of things.
Eight months ago: an expectant first-time parent asks me about my postpartum experience. I can’t recall any details beyond exhaustion and a deep sadness.
Two months ago: a friend points out that Ben’s large birthmark has faded entirely. I forgot he ever had a birthmark.
Last night: I catch myself being surprised that Ben’s eyes are brown now. How long have they been brown? They used to be blue.
The idea of having another child at this stage in my life, when my first is approaching two and I am nearing approaching 34, seems like the worst idea in the history of everything. Quinn and I will be in our 50s by the time he’s graduating high school. So as someone with both feet firmly in the one and done camp, I feel a lot of pressure to get everything right this first (and only) time around. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rolled my eyes when other women have cooed at complaints of nights spent cluster feeding or comforting a sick toddler. “Cherish it!” they chirp. “It goes by so fast!”
Right, I think. I’m definitely going to cherish memories of being pissed on and kept awake for days on end.
Like so many other days, today I can only seem to focus on the exhaustion I feel after a weekend of clingy, congested tantrums. When I talk about my frustrations, I can only recall how many nights he hasn’t slept well, how many nights he refused to sleep in his crib, how many times I have had to leave the room during an inconsolable tantrum. I manage to forget — like always — the many, many ways Ben has improved. I forget that bedtime is a breeze 90% of the time, that he can drink from an open cup without spilling, that he will try a bite of any food at least once. I forget all the nights he sleeps 10 hours straight.
I worry about all the things I will forget. Big things. Important things.
But mostly I worry about forgetting the little things, like the sound of his belly laugh. The weight of his big little head on my shoulder, or the warmth of his body when he climbs into my lap to watch cartoons. The way he says “beep!” when I unlock the car. The way he pats everybody on the back when he gives them a hug.The knowledge that there are so many things that will be forgotten lingers at the back of my mind. I worry so much about forgetting that I don’t doubt that there’s at least some bit of self-fulfilling prophecy at work.