PARENTAL AMNESIA SYNDROME
My sons are 22, 22, and 18. When one considers the adjectives applicable to raising 3 boys that are three and a half years apart, the word easy is not one that will come to mind. My step-daughters are 6 and 3, and becoming a step-mother has given me an all new appreciation for them.
Don’t get me wrong, the girls are great. Very well-behaved, smart, funny, affectionate, I really couldn’t ask for better. But they do have some issues, pretty average kid stuff, but when these issues crop up I realize just how perfect my boys were.
Bedtime is a challenge in this house. Resisting going to bed, continuously asking for one more cartoon, one more game, one more story, then insisting on sleeping in the same bed, where they continue to laugh, tease, pinch each other, and cry is our nightly routine. Their dad has been taking it in stride, but it’s been a nightmare for me. Perhaps I’m paying for being so smug about how well my boys slept, which in my recollection was a solid 10 hours by the time they were 2 months old. I remember laughing inwardly at other parents when they would talk about their hour-long bed time “routines”. At 7:30 pm I told my kids to go to bed, and they did. One story, lights out. Really.
I may be a little rusty, but having been through the terrible threes 3 times already, I felt prepared for any tantrum a toddler could dish out. Three year old Giggles, apparently, is up to the challenge. It always starts when we let her know it’s time to get ready to leave, and the subsequent refusal-bribe-negotiation-refusal-threat-negotiation tactics that follow. A recent morning started out just that way; so when her tantrum subsided after her shoes were on, I got us out the door and to the car as quickly as I could. Climbing up to her seat she began a new tantrum, a round-robin chorus of begging for sparkle shoes and insisting on buckling herself (yet refusing to do so). I actually had to close the door and just walk away, twice. Finally, muscling her into her car seat while again explaining that sparkle shoes were inappropriate for the weather, I was able to drive to preschool while each tantrum continued to dovetail into the next. As she alternated between insisting we go home for sparkle shoes, and asking me to pull over and unbuckle her so she could buckle herself, I tried to keep distracted by playing the radio loudly (classical music so as to encourage her cultural development). Arriving at preschool, I opened up the back of my SUV before getting her out, then carried her to the back where we hugged and snuggled before going in. She was now calm, but I must have looked pretty frazzled. Each staff member went beyond their usual cheerful and helpful routine, opening doors and checking me in. On my way out I had to confide in the administrator and receptionist, “I just keep telling myself, I’ve been through this before, I can handle this, but…”. They sympathized and consoled, but still I could reach only one conclusion, my three sons were obviously the most well-behaved children on the planet, surely they had never put me through a morning like this!
Do I sound a bit delusional?
One thing that all parents of more than one child have in common is Parental Amnesia Syndrome. It’s the only explanation for multiple child families (other than multiple births). Who would ever want to experience the pain, the stretch marks, the hemorrhoids, sleeplessness, crying, whining, the tantrums…who would sign up for all these things a SECOND time, if we actually remembered the details of going through them the first time?!? If it weren’t for Parental Amnesia Syndrome we would be a world of one child families. But here’s the thing, in hind sight, our kids are perfect angels. Sure, I assume my kids weren’t perfect, I have a few vague and cloudy recollections of utter frustration, but honestly I don’t remember my kids giving me much grief, at least not until they were school age.
My amnesia may be helping me appreciate my boys more, but it’s not helping me deal with the girls any better, or in discussing parenting issues with my husband. It’s too easy for me to throw up my hands and say “you deal with this”, instead of understanding that the girls are just being girls, that their behavior is completely age appropriate, and Nate is still a new father. When I insist that my parenting techniques are better, because they “worked” on my kids…the fact is, it might not be all together true. I’m not remembering my own parenting fails. If I can remember nothing else though, it’s to be patient. With the girls, with Nate. and with myself, we are, after all, in this together.
Of course, I like being able to remember myself as a “perfect parent”. Reality? Who cares when you have rose-tinted hind sight and a healthy amount of Parental Amnesia Syndrome.
One day, I’ll only remember times like these. I can hardly wait!
Ariana Gruver is a mother (and landlord) of 3 grown sons. Being single after 25 years of marriage seemed pretty awesome, but then Mr. Right walked into her life, bringing with him two little girls. Starting over again, moving from vibrant Portlandia to the soggy Southern Oregon Coast, changing from a full-time career to being a part-time insurance agent, thrice-weekly stepmom, growing blogger, and full-time wife, she is embracing adventure and sharing her experiences and lessons on her blog. Still Growing. You can learn more about her by following her on: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/