Many years ago, my mother, like countless mothers throughout history, cursed me.  She said the magic words all mothers have muttered to their offspring at some point or another, “Just you wait. You’ll see what it’s like to be a parent some day and then you’ll understand.”

I’m starting to understand.

All the ridiculous stories my mother-in-law tells about getting pulled over for speeding while wearing a nightgown because she had to rush some kid to school and didn’t have time to dress, or the one about walking out of daycare with the handbag of the woman who’d been standing next to her slung over her arm, only to be accosted by the police when she returned later for her own handbag – these are things that happened to her because she had children.  Before she had children, I’m sure she was a perfectly normal, intelligent woman moving her way through life.  After – she was a panicky, disorganized mess barely able to remember her own name, let alone the names of her three children.  I’m no statistician, but the relationship between these two circumstances seems undeniable.

My downhill slide began well before I actually gave birth to Adam.  The demands of gestation alone took their toll on me, sapping me of my energy and my ability to concentrate.  After Adam was born the brain cells that were destroyed in pregnancy didn’t seem to be replaced with new ones.  Within weeks of giving birth, and still in a fog of new-motherhood craziness mixed with extreme sleep deprevation, I loaded my visiting mother-in-law, and sister-in-law into my SUV for a little shopping trip.  I looked in my rear view as I backed out of the garage, but it was only the horrible crunching sound of metal on metal that roused me from my coma-like state.  FYI, your husband’s new Mini Cooper will be difficult to see in the rear view of your SUV, so you may want to check and see if he’s parked behind you BEFORE you back out of the garage.  If it hadn’t been for the fact that Dick didn’t want to be a single-father with a newborn, I’m fairly certain I would’ve ended up in divorce court over that one.

The decline continued with the birth of Tabitha 13 months later.  A few months after Tabitha was born, Dick asked me for the key to our safety deposit box at the bank.  I went to the designated key box in my desk drawer only to find that the key was missing.  When Dick called the bank and learned that they charged $200 for a locksmith to drill the lock, I began a week long odyssey of searching boxes, drawers, and file cabinets – all to no avail.  Growing desperate to access the necessary paperwork, reluctantly, Dick and I agreed to the locksmith fee and kissed our Ben Franklins goodbye.  A few weeks later, as we were packing to move, I couldn’t resist the urge to continue looking for the key, one last time.  I opened the key box and there it was – the safety deposit box key.  All this time, it was there – the silver key taped to the lid of the box.  If only I’d remembered that it was a silver key and not the brass key I’d been looking for…

Now that the kids are older and I’m older, the frantic pace of life with children has destroyed any remaining shreds of my dignity.  In recent months I have:

  • given the wrong Xmas gift to the wrong person and misplaced another Xmas gift (still haven’t found it)
  • worn a shirt wrong side out without noticing until I took it off
  • poured myself a cup of coffee, forgotten where I put the cup, and then poured myself a second cup of coffee
  • paid the cable twice but never paid the gas bill
  • called one of the children by the dog’s name
  • forgotten the children’s names and referred to them as “you two”
  • forgotten that my glasses were on my head
  • forgotten that my keys were in my hand
  • left the house wearing two dramatically different shoes

In a most deep and profound expression of my withered state, I’ve fallen into my mother’s speech patterns now, as well. I’ve found the words davenport, lollygagging, and gallivanting are invading my conversations with the children.  Even worse, Dick stopped me the other day as I was about to insert the word “the” in front of the name of a store, as in The Walgreens. That’s just classic looney-mom behavior.  

This morning I realized that my journey to the dark side was nearly complete.  Searching for my laptop, Adam looked on as I frantically overturned cushions and crawled under beds.  Just as I was about to give up and call Dick, Adam burst out laughing.  

“What?  What’s so darn funny?  Why don’t you try helping me out instead of lollygagging!”

“Mommy, you’we siwwy.  Youw waptop bag is on youw shouwdew.”

And it was.  As Adam laughed and pointed at me, overtaken with laughter achieved at my expense, I dug deep into my mourning, misunderstood soul and said the dreaded curse words to Adam – “Some day you’ll be a parent and then you’ll understand…”  

Putting your underwear on wrong side out – $0.  Knowing your curse words are going to work like a charm – priceless.

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