I’ve been thinking a lot about forgetfulness and mental load. I had a boss at work who constantly referred to freeing up your “psychic space” as often as possible. Much like defragmenting your computer in order to free up memory. I have always been considered “forgetful” — even before I had a baby. During pregnancy, I had the luxury of blaming things on “baby brain.” Now that my daughter is crawling, my ability to keep up with everything in my brain seems exponentially worse.
Here are some of the more serious things I’ve forgotten this past month…
If you live in the United States you know how we just looooooove to make holidays for everyone, and September 8 is yet another: it’s National Grandparent’s Day! I’m a big fan of celebrating just about anything and anyone, so I’m totally on the Grandparent’s Day train. While looking around for cute ideas for stuff my kid could do for his long-distance grandparents, I realized I don’t know ANYTHING about the origins of the day. Anyone up for a history lesson/craft party? Let’s do it.
Since the advent of Pinterest and Tumblr, posts venting parental frustrations have been shared, pinned and reblogged with silent nods of understanding, uproarious laughter and the occasional GPOY tag. Now and then, I’ll come across a post intended as humor that really bugs me. When I look at what the post is really saying, it’s just passive-aggressive repetition of the tropes and assumptions that I don’t want to include in my parenting.
If you don’t have kids but plan to have them some day, remember that. Chances are you’ll need to change the way you hear that question soon, so that when you have a baby you don’t start answering the way things are really going. Because, if you were being honest, you would probably say: “Baby is fine, except…” (don’t worry, there are LOTS of things you can fill in here. I’ll just add one.)
But we worry, don’t we, about what people think? Even parents of the easiest children contend with the occasional wicked tantrum, or a disaster of an eating out attempt, or a terrible diaper blow-out in the airport. Here I am, you think. With my pants down and all my dirty laundry hanging out.
I’ve come across the advice “If mom isn’t happy, then do something differently,” but that’s not all that helpful in the long-run. I’ve found a few gentle weaning tips online, but the prospect of a few more months of diligence and consistency seems daunting and exhausting. And my friends aren’t much help, either. While they’re in various stages of breastfeeding, we’re all trying to figure out when it’s right to stop breastfeeding and how to go about doing it.
Right now we’re in the midst of what I like to call a “parenting sweet spot” — those weeks or months in which there aren’t any major behavioral problems going on, most-to-all of the balanced meals are being eaten, and my child’s general disposition is one of a curious, sweet, and incredibly polite little boy. To me, these sweet spots are evidence that the hard work you put in weeks or sometimes years prior has paid off: your kid has actually learned something from you, and that something is good.
As a child of immigrants I ended up bilingual pretty much by default. My parents are from Taiwan and China, so I grew up speaking Mandarin Chinese with them and speaking English with my older sister and at school. Although I dreaded going to Chinese School on Sundays as a child, by the time I left for college I recognized the benefits of being bilingual and I knew even then that I would want my future children to be the same.