Glorious Forgetting

depression, family & parenting / Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Newborn continues to wake up. Both throughout the night, but also in the day. He holds his head, chin jutting out, eyes wide open, hungry for new sights.

And he’s found a new way to call for me. Wailing, yes, of course but he’s started talking too. All delightful, glorious, babysqualk nonsense. Scribble talk. Frankie Howerd meets Sid James. Sighs and growls and chuckles and oohahhs.

He makes the simple half sounds we all associate with babies. He goos and gaahs his way through the cliches, burbles so repetitive and mundane they could even be annoying to strangers. But his handful of dribbly notes enchant me precisely because they are familiar repeats.
You see, I must believe these are all familiar notes, a new tune in the same key, my second son’s arrangement reminding me of my first’s. I must believe this as the alternative would kill me.
I find myself telling people (as I revel in my baby with all that new Mum worshiping) that I’ve forgotten quite how sweet and perfect newborns are. That over a few years I’d lost my keen love of their feel and touch and smell. Their biscuity heads and downy backs, pursed lips and clear eyes learning to follow you, their smooth brows and bow legs.
But this is a protest and a plea, not just a joke. I hope I’ve forgotten because it would break my heart if I had never experienced them before. If I thought I had never marvelled at these everyday miracles before. If hadn’t sat back to listen when Spider-boy tried his first chatters and chants and revelled in the marvellous mundaneness. If I’d been too lost to notice it all. But I can’t be certain. Because although I loved Spider-boy, and of that I’m sure, of the rest? Well, I can’t quite fathom it. It turns out the price of happiness now is a tough one. Who knew post-natal depression had such a final blow?And that blow is an instinctive move towards forgetting, obliterating even that which we should be keeping in our mind’s eye.
Forgetting depression should be a fail safe, a relief, a saviour. But for me it has come at a price I’m not prepared to pay. Getting better means I’m losing my memory of being ill, filing the memories deep, deep down. But I’m sure by doing so I lose happiness too. And can’t tell which experiences with this son are glorious, reinvented echoes (as they should be) and which ones are new (and perhaps reflect a lack of concentration the first time round).
Which is why I must keep peeping behind the dark curtains in this blog, just to check, and to see that sometimes, thank God, I do remember. And when I do I find nice things, amidst the darkest hours. Like the picture at the top. A crappy snap of a baby laughing. So like anything I’d put on my Facebook page today. But I know it was taken in 2007 not 2011, and it is of a different newborn just finding his voice. It is important as it is a photo I know I took, and it proves I was listening to him then and I have been there before. So however hard remembering all that shit that surrounded my first baby might be, obliterating it rather than just forgetting it is so much worse, and having never been there before? Having missed the mundane moments in the first place? That’s would be just unthinkable.

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