Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Happy Traveler

I bet I know what some of you blog readers are thinking. You’re thinking, “Oh my goodness! Linda’s momnesia is even worse than we realized—now she’s even forgotten that she’s a blogger. There have been no new entries in her blog for ages!”

You’re right. It’s been a while! But no, I haven’t forgotten about my blog. I’ve just been traveling—almost nonstop—for most of April. And I’ve been having so much fun I just couldn’t find time to write. I want to share with you some of that fun. But first I want to thank those of you who’ve written in with some of your own “momnesia” stories. I loved the backwards pants and the Barbie phone. About that almost-missed anniversary . . . though I’m not sure how funny that was. But hey, hats off to him for remembering. And I’m sure he really did understand—especially since it was an almost-miss. (smile)

And now, a few words about why my recent travel has been so much fun. Two reasons. First, I got to see both of my grandsons. And since I live in Wisconsin and they live in New Hampshire (Soren) and North Carolina (Bengt), seeing them both in one month is a really big event! And second, I’ve gotten to meet with moms all over the place—Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. I’ve spoken to all kinds of Mom To Mom groups—some meeting in church fellowship halls, one meeting in a smaller room in a church, and one gathered in a warm, welcoming family room in a home. Besides having a blast, I always learn a lot from times like these.

Just a few random observations from my recent travels:
  1. “April” means different things in different parts of the country. In New Hampshire we were still battling a few snowpiles here and there. In Tennessee and North Carolina it was spring! Moms and kids there are already wearing shorts and sandals. They’re playing outside in green yards with blooming trees and plants and shrubs in them! Back home in Wisconsin today, the wind is whistling around my house, and I just returned from a bitter-cold walk in a winter jacket. Oh well—Northern girlfriends, spring will come our way soon, I’m sure. And in the meantime, I wear my sandals now and then just to pretend—and practice!
  2. No matter what the weather, moms are hardy souls. In New Hampshire I heard a charming story of a grandma who shoveled her way (yes, shoveled!) through her backyard to have a “picnic” with two of her grandkids in a shed that sounds more like a playhouse than a storage place. (Doesn’t that sound like fun? Makes me wish to be one of her grandchildren!) In North Carolina I met brave and noble Marine wives (including—and especially—my own daughter-in-law) who courageously and creatively support their deployed husbands and single-parent their children with a quiet perseverance and grace that sometimes takes my breath away.I met adoptive moms who opened their hearts and home to special-needs kids, sometimes even after raising several biological children who are just about to make them “empty-nesters.” All kinds of moms. All kinds of kids. All in need of God’s grace and drawing on His strength day by day, hour by hour.
  3. There are some pretty cool dads out there, too. I heard of one husband who translates the Mom To Mom lesson every week for his wife so that she can better understand the DVD in a language she is still mastering. Another father showed up at one Mom To Mom to take notes for his wife who had given birth a few hours before but didn’t want to miss the lesson that week. How cool is that?! Another dad, one of my son’s fellow-Marines, became a sort of surrogate dad for an afternoon for my grandson Bengt, jumping and rough-housing all over a backyard trampoline with him and even taking Bengt fishing!
  4. Finally (for now), I heard a lot of neat stories of how different Mom To Mom groups are concluding their year. I got to be at one Mom To Mom that had each of the groups review a section of the year’s curriculum. They did it in such creative ways—skits, Family Feud or Deal or No Deal game shows, even a song! Some are having end-of-year brunches or Tex-Mex dinners. One group had a “Dad’s Night at Mom To Mom” last Saturday night at which Woody and I spoke. It was great seeing the husbands nodding to some of the same truths we talk about at Mom To Mom—and especially getting introduced to their wives’ friends and connecting with each other. It also gave opportunity to invite friends and neighbors and introduce them to Mom To Mom.
So here’s my question: What are some of you doing as end-of-year activities at Mom To Mom? I’d love to hear from you, whether you’re a Titus 2 leader or a member-mom. What kind of fun are you having? Please join our blog conversation and share your ideas or experiences. We’d all love to hear from you!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Momnesia, Anyone?

Have you all been hearing lately, as I have, about the postpartum syndrome called “momnesia”? I’m not sure how rigorously it is supported by hard medical research. But don’t you think it’s heartening that at least some researchers are finally recognizing a reality that all of us moms have known for years? Being a mom takes a real toll on your memory (among other things)!

This could explain a lot about the daily traumas of motherhood: like walking to the kitchen, standing before a cupboard, and having no idea at all what you are supposed to be looking for. Or leaving a bag or two of groceries at the store. Or completely forgetting a pediatric appointment—or jury duty—or your telephone number. Or your husband’s name. Little things like that.

Personally, I find it comforting that there’s now a label to describe some of what we moms go through. And perhaps some explanation of the cause—hormones and all that. What I don’t find comforting is how long this condition persists. In my case, a very long time. Far beyond postpartum, post-toddlerhood, and even post-teen years.

Yet it does explain why, for example, I once arrived at a retreat I was to teach on “Biblical Self-Worth for Women” without either my makeup bag or any toiletries at all. Yep, that’s right: No blush, no lipstick—no toothbrush, even. It did, however provide me an opportunity to practice what I preach: A great personal example, as it turned out, of not relying on outward appearance for our sense of worth!

Momnesia may also help explain why I left on another weekend trip to visit one of our kids at college without packing a single piece of underwear. Or why I have been known to drive off with things like a purse or my wallet or—once—a beautifully frosted angel food cake on the roof of my car.

Still, I can’t help but be concerned—especially now that I’m a grandmother—at the persistence of this condition. And I have a feeling it could create some pangs of insecurity in some of my children over leaving the grandkids with me.

However, I want to point out that there is a positive side to momnesia. There really is. Let’s face it: there are some things about motherhood that are better forgotten. For example, I have pretty much blocked out large segments of my years of toilet training my sons (and believe me, I mean years).

It was also recently brought to my attention that I had completely forgotten (repressed, maybe?) a major event in the lives of my two younger children. It was the time a town of Lexington police officer came to our front door to ask me whether I was aware that two of my children were hanging out an upstairs window. I really, truly had no memory of this event. But my daughter insists it created major trauma in her life (fear of jail, wondering if parents were allowed to visit, etc)—despite the fact that her version does not actually involve “hanging out the window” so much as “waving at passers-by through an open window.” Not exactly a “magnificent mom” moment. Definitely better forgotten. (Come to think of it, why did my kids have to bring it up?)

So I’m curious: Any of you experiencing momnesia these days? Any good stories to share?

Or how about your personal list of things you hope you’ll forget?

Recently when I was visiting Bjorn, Abby, and Soren, we all shared one of those moments. It happened in the middle of the night. And no, it wasn’t a baby who wouldn’t stop crying. Soren, at 15 months, is actually a very good sleeper these days. It was a quacking in the night. Yes, that’s right—a quacking. We awoke around 3 a.m. to the sounds—very loud sounds—of “quack quack,” “quack quack,” “quack quack,” spaced out at regular intervals. As I lay there wondering if I was imagining things (or dreaming of a farm), Bjorn and Abby slowly groped their way into the living room where I was sleeping, saying “What is that noise? It’s driving us crazy!” It took a surprisingly long time to locate the source.

We searched the toy shelf, the book stack, the diaper bag. Bjorn was sure it was that offensive little duck in the diaper bag. But no, that duck was completely innocent. Finally we found it: a little play farm whose battery had apparently burned out or gone crazy, setting off one very persistent little duck who was quacking away. Poor thing—he spent the rest of the night out on the back porch in the cold. Ever tried to locate the battery in one of your kids’ toys in the middle of the night?

Though this is good for a laugh now, it didn’t seem all that funny at 3 a.m. Who needs a duck quacking at you when your baby is finally sleeping all through the night? Could be a moment Bjorn and Abby won’t remember long. (Do dads get some version of “momnesia” too?) But then again, maybe it’s worth remembering. If there’s anything we need to keep doing as moms, it’s to keep laughing!

Got any good stories to share?

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