It does not escape me that I was bestowed with a special gift many will never receive. That, at the ripe age of 46, I pulled this little red haired rabbit out of my hat in the nick of conceptual time is miraculous to say the least. I felt the joy, and the disdain, from people when they learned I’d conceived a child this late in life. But reality is real. And toddlers are terrible. Memories sort out the miracle from the mundane.
I try not to complain too often about my scrambled state of mind when Fiona is perpetually testing to find out if I’m still in charge…while she hits me or refuses to cooperate…if she still matters on a Tuesday…with the wind from the West. And as much as I agree with “enjoy it while it lasts”, enjoyment isn’t a constant during my trench warfare. And even if I wanted it to be, there’s a good reason I couldn’t constantly be happy.
Seems there are two minds. The “now” mind and the “memory” mind. The “experiencing selves” and the “remembering selves” as described by scientist Daniel Kahneman in his Ted-X talk. And these states can’t exist in the same space in your head at the same time. You can’t tell a woman that the childbirth pains that she’s experiencing, that are really really excruciating by the way, won’t matter. Until she decides later whether she wants to forget all about them and remember the wonder and joy of birth. That’s all hers.
And so goes the experience of motherhood at any phase, from toddlerhood to adolescence. The experiencing Mommy’s life is the day in and day out of meals and sick visits and new shoes and visits to Grandma’s. But then there’s the memories of their milestones like the first time he rode his bike and slammed into the back of a parked car. Or the look on their faces that Christmas morning when they got Disney tickets. That didn’t happen at my house but I know it happened at someone else’s.
Here it is, I have absolutely no wish to relive Eamon’s toddler days. He was cute and I cherish the few happy memories I have. I have a few regrets about how I wanted to run away from my fears of parenting in those early years. But overall, I am not sad about his growing up because he’s turning out so beautifully. And I have enjoyed him daily. My memories are full of happy thoughts and I hold no memory grudges.
As for Fiona, I will survive these days but I just realized, I have many princess/hello kitty/my little pony birthday parties to conjure up in the future. A fabulous memory or two for her for sure. And my experiencing self-will just have to focus on capturing the pictures that repaint the less than great moments for the remembering self later.
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