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As mothers, there are certain things that we try and put out of our minds. The memory of childbirth, for instance, usually gets altered in some way. We reminisce about the day quite often, choosing to relive “every” detail to those who would rather be doing anything else but listen to our labor stories. However if you’re like me, you recount it as a happy experience. Let’s face it. After all the hard work is said and done (and cleaned up), you look into your baby’s face and forget all the gruesome life experiences leading up to that beautiful angel coming into the world.
Why do people ever choose to have a second, third, or fourth child? Don’t they remember all the painstaking HELL they went through during the pregnancy and delivery? Of course not! You see, women develop superpowers during labor and delivery: Super strength (just ask my husband how hard I was gripping his arm!), Telepathy (just one sideways look lets your husband know you resent him for making you endure this), and Mind Control (the ability to erase all traces of pain and suffering from their own memories once they hold their tiny bundles of joy). We leave the hospital feeling empowered. Once we have taken on the miracle of creating human life, we feel we can pretty much handle anything. For a short period of time, anyway. At least until the baby has a meltdown at 4 AM on your third night of no sleep. But what could be the main reason why we choose to block out the pain and act like superheroes? Sorry guys, it has nothing to do with sounding macho or to make ourselves seem tougher (EVEN THOUGH WE ARE THE TOUGHEST.. WE FORCED A HUMAN CHILD OUT OF OUR BODIES AFTER INCUBATING THEM FOR DAMN NEAR TEN MONTHS!). It’s because we have a lifetime of important memories to keep track of! Their first words. Their first steps. The first time they throw a temper tantrum in the middle of Wal-Mart. The first visit from the Santa Claus. The first frantic trip to the emergency room only to find out it wasn’t an emergency. The first day of preschool. The first day of Kindergarten. The list of firsts you will experience as a parent goes on and on, just like the love between a mother and their child. All these important events that fill up a child’s lifetime also fill up a mother’s memory. So, her memory must be SUPERHUMAN.
As a mother, I want to make sure I remember the little details that make the stories I retell to my kids and grand kids worth listening to. I want to remember my oldest’s face when she fell off her bike face first, only to surface with excitement over a lost tooth and a future tooth fairy visit. I want to revisit the moment when my second baby girl finally blew me a kiss. I want to playback the proud moment of seeing my then-5-year-old walk across her preschool graduation stage, cute as a button, eagerly grabbing her diploma because I am looking forward to reliving this feeling at her high school and college graduations.
A mother’s mind is an amazing thing. Not only can we selectively decide which memories we want to keep and which we want to toss as far as pain and pleasure goes, but we can also remember when we need more toilet paper, when our husbands are out of clean underwear, and who needs to be where, when, and with who. We remember what kind of lunch meat everyone likes, and how to sew a button back on a dress shirt. We can recite every word to every Disney movie ever made, but we don’t recall the panic we felt when our water broke or the anger when the nurse told us we couldn’t start pushing yet (I really couldn’t hold out much longer!). We don’t dwell on the sleepless nights, the never ending bathroom interruptions, or the constant use of the words “Mom, can you…” We have much bigger, happier things to remember.