Lately I’ve been worried that I might be losing my mind. I find myself in the kitchen and I can’t remember why. I fear I’ve lost my glasses when they’re perched on top of my head. I’m sure I’ve misplaced my phone and I’m talking on it. I blame it on lingering chemo brain and/or my daily drug regimen, but still, it worries me. At least it did, until I was cleaning out my office and came across an article I wrote in late 1990, when my daughter Erin was a baby. It’s proof positive that the seasons in our life haven’t changed as much as we think they have. We may have new challenges, but our bodies and minds respond in the same ways to stress and change as they always have. I’ve been through this season before and survived. If it sounds familiar, so will you.
In honor of Mother’s Day on May 14, here’s the (edited) article from Kelly’s deep vault of Kelly stories:
People warned me about many things before my daughter Erin was born. They said I wouldn’t get enough sleep. They said she would cry all the time. They even said my body would never be the same. They neglected, however, to tell me that having an infant-slash-wrecking-machine in the house tends to turn an adult’s brain into absolute mush.
Erin is ten months old now. She walks, she talks (she babbles) and she tears my house a part. I can handle that. What I can’t handle is the loss of my mind. Since she became mobile, I have developed a propensity to misplace her belonging, my belongings, even my husband’s belongings. Something about that beautiful little bald head staring up at me while those stubby hands clutch my pant leg unnerves me.
It started with minor things. Like the disappearing furniture wax. I was dusting the furniture one day while Erin napped. I heard her crying so I brought her into the living room, sat her on the floor, and went back to work. I couldn’t find the furniture wax. It was gone. A few weeks later it reappeared in the garage between my husband’s tools and a box of Christmas decorations. I believe it sprouted legs and sprinted to its hiding place when I wasn’t looking.
The situation escalated when I decided to bake chocolate chip cookies for a church bake sale. Erin started crying in the living room so I went to check on her. When I returned to the kitchen, the chocolate chips were missing. After sending out a search party, I found them under the telephone book. Later that day I opened the freezer door to get some ice and found salt next to the ice cream
sandwiches. It’s a good year for nicely chilled salt, I told myself.
I got a bill ready to send and left it on the desk in the bedroom that doubled as my office. I’d better put it on the kitchen table so I don’t forget to mail it, I thought, so I went back to get it. Gone. I tore the room a part. I went through every file in the filing cabinet and every book on the book shelves. Nothing.
Erin looked on in amazement as Mommy moaned and tore at her hair. Finally, in desperation, I went through the trash in the kitchen. I found the bill among the carrot peels and soda pop cans.
“What’s happening to me,” I cried to my husband that night.
“You have to more careful,” he said in that smug way of someone who leaves the house for eight or nine hours a day.
The coup de grace came a few days later when I got a call from a magazine from which I’d purchased a sample copy for $1.85. When they deposited the check, their account was credited with $100.85. That was the amount I’d written on the check. For a self-employed writer and stay-at-home mom, that was a big chunk of money. They would return the money, but it would take time.
Hubby wasn’t so calm about this one. “You’ve got to be more careful, babe,” he said, an edge starting to appear in his voice.
“I am careful, dear,” I snarled.
Erin grinned that one-toothed grin and nose-dived into the cat food.
Tim didn’t know about the incident a few days earlier in which I’d fed Erin in the lounge of a posh department store. Later I heard my voice on the PA system saying, “Kelly Irvin, please, pick up the courtesy phone.”
How did they get my name? How did they know I was in the store?
That’s when the awful realization hit me. My purse, containing credit cards, checkbook and other important papers, no longer hung on the back of the stroller. I’d left it in the lounge. Fortunately, some kind person turned it in, contents intact.
How did this happen, I ask myself, as I wipe strained green beans off my T-shirt. Why didn’t someone warn me, I ask myself as I scrub poop off the changing table sheet. Why didn’t someone explain this to me I ask as I sit on the floor writing this on a Big Chief Tablet, “Sesame Street,” blaring in the background. Erin is pulling my hair, grabbing the pen, and gurgling in my ear.
Is it worth it?
Erin babbles, “mama, mama” and dives into my lap.
“She said momma,” I screech. “Momma’s girl.”
Who cares about furniture wax anyway? I hate to dust.
Almost 26 years have gone by since I wrote this treatise on motherhood and its impact on intellect. My time as a stay-at-home mom only lasted two years. I went on to work full-time outside the home, which was a different kind of crazy. My daughter is grown. She’s a stay-at-home mom with a two-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl. Her life is full of mayhem. And joy. It’s her season for potty training and temper tantrums. It’s my season for forgetfulness brought on by a myriad of factors, not the least of which I’m a fiction writer who spends most of the day talking with imaginary people. So what if I forget a thing or two, life is good. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Happy Mother’s Day, all y’all!
Do you sometimes feel like you’re losing your mind? How do you deal with it? Feel free to share in the comments below.