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October 23, 2014

Why I Strive to be a Forgetful Mom

Sarah Headshot Oct2013 HDRFew people would consider being compared to an elephant as a compliment, but I did. When I was growing up, I was often told that I had an elephant’s memory. Elephants are known for being able to remember most anything, but especially those things related to survival and relationships. As far as I was concerned, that was a high compliment. After all, it was particularly useful in memorizing useless facts in school and in committing my piano recital songs to memory. Yes, having that skill was a huge benefit.

As an adult, remembering is a good thing. If I forget my child’s soccer practice or doctor’s appointment, then I might not win MOTY (Mom of the Year). And forgetting her birthday? Yeah, definitely not a good idea.

As I’ve gotten older, my kids have informed me that I can no longer claim elephantine memory status. I blame them. (After all, “pregnancy brain” is a legit condition and while scientists claim your memory returns after delivery, I’m not so sure.) Frankly, I think my kids might be on to something about my failing memory. Case in point: last month I was registering my own daughter for school and said to my boys, “She’s in 6th grade, right?” They looked at me stunned. “No, she’s in 7th.” My own daughter! How did I miss an entire year? And how do the Duggers (parents of 19 kids and counting) do it? Geez!

In an attempt to find the silver lining in this cloud, I’ve decided that there ARE times when I WANT to be forgetful. Unfortunately, though, this kind of forgetfulness doesn’t come as naturally to me. It’s this: forgetting the mistakes and unkind words of my kids.

Here’s the deal (and I realize this is not a shock to most of you): living in close proximity to others increases the possibility that mean things will be said and done. That’s a fact. The people who are closest to me have the potential to hurt me the most (and vice versa). While I would hope that our love for one another would prevent us from causing harm, the reality is that we often inflict more harm on those we love the most than we do on those outside of our homes.

So how do we deal with it?

[Insert your best New Jersey accent.] “Fuhgeddaboudit.”

Now do I mean that we should just muster up as much courage as possible to act like we’ve never been hurt? Absolutely not. That’s not even possible. No, we certainly need to address the hurts, the slights, the disrespect, etc. and then forgive it. And that’s not easy, but when we can own up to how much we’ve hurt others, we can more easily forgive.

But a big part of forgiving is forgetting. And by forgetting, I don’t mean never remembering. Now I know that sounds like the same thing, but forgetting and not remembering are actually two different things. Forgetting is choosing to never act on it again, to not use it as emotional black mail, to let it go.

Rarely can we not remember.  We certainly DO recall bad things that have happened to us, but we have the power to choose what to do with that memory. We can recall it, marinate in it, get all worked up, and end up bitter and hurt. OR we can recall it, remember that we’ve forgiven the offender, and then let it go. The choice is ours.

So today, my goal is to be an elephant about the good things and a forgetful mom otherwise.

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