I was at a women’s empowerment event a couple of years ago and, predictably as with women matters, the conversation shifted to how to raise our kids. One woman had asked the appropriate age that girls can start doing some chores around the house.
Several women were on the panel, most of them with older children. The advice ranged from, age 2, when they are able to understand some things, thus you can ask them to pick up their toys, to age 8, when they can do some cleaning like washing the dishes and even sweeping.
To tell the truth, I took notes and I saw several young mommies take jottings too. These older women have obviously navigated this terrain before and therefore know what they are talking about. I came across that note recently and I could not help but laugh at some of the things I heard those mommies say, and the reality that I have come to see in the lives of these older women over time.
While they might not have set out on to deceive younger moms, they definitely suffered from a peculiar kind of amnesia, that day, called Momnesia. Yes, that selective memory loss that deletes the ugly, the painful part of their parenting journey and leaves only the very fun and romanticized view of raising their kids.
So, when they shared tips and stories about their children, they mostly recalled the awesome parts. So, if you follow their advice, it might just not work oh! And no, they did not lie, they just forgot the reality.
One of the older moms, I will call Mrs T, is a mommy of three kids who are all teenagers, with the oldest in her second year in the university. She is a walking repertoire of motherhood experiences, which she freely shares.
However, I had a hilarious encounter with her last Saturday. She does her major cooking on Saturdays, while indulging in a newspaper reading binge. Call her old school, she doesn’t mind. I had been to seen her, because I was trying to wrangle a favour out of her. Saturdays are the best times for those.
She had been reading a story on how spanking was of no effect in disciplining children. That had set her off on a dissertation of the African mentality towards child discipline. She knows I have no qualms with spanking my children and she used the opportunity to lay into me too.
“See, they are talking about all you people who like to beat your kids. It’s not good oh! You’re only damage these children emotionally”
Interestingly, her older daughter was listening to our conversation. She walked into the kitchen and said, “Mommie, but you used to beat us nau, when you will be telling us, “eyin omo yi, eni pa mi. E e de ni baje.(you children will not kill me and you will not become spoilt.) You don’t remember? Don’t mind mommie oh. We used to throw away her canes and she would just go and buy another. It was only daddy that never beat us.”
At this revelation, we were all reeling in laughter; Mrs T’s assertion had just been blown sky high. So, who do I believe now; the newspaper report or Mrs T, who is obviously suffering from Momnesia? She has obviously forgotten the spanking but the kids, she beat, did not.
For another mom, her children were angels. As in butter wouldn’t melt in their mouth kind of angels. They behaved well, never threw tantrums or asked for something they had been told they couldn’t have.
Imagine my shock during one youth meeting, where these same kids shared some anecdotes from their childhood that got all other kids looking at them like they had grown horns. Their stories were tame compared to these children. These children had been anything but angels, little terrors were more like what they were.
They were outspoken, asked lots of offensive questions, put their hands in naughty practices, which they obviously dropped as they grew older. I honestly don’t know where their mom got the image she painted of them. The only thing to blame is the fact that she suffered momnesia.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with having momnesia. It will come to all of us, sooner or later. Some of us have already started to have it sef. It starts from pregnancy. You know pregnancy brain was not coined from vacuum, pregnancy truly does a number on the brain.
It continues into childbirth. Believe me, it is only momnesia that will make a woman go through labour more than once in life. Not that you forget completely, you just see the whole process through heavily rose tinted glasses, dazzal!
And when we’re in the trenches of early motherhood, our brain cells that would normally go toward storing long-term memories get used up for things like trying to answer a 4-year-old’s 1001 questions in one day, or trying to figure out how to get the Sponge Bob song out of our heads, or simply trying to figure out how we’re going to afford to cater to their needs. At the end of all of these juggling acts, we forget a lot of things, both short-term and long-term.
And naturally, momnesia gets worse the more kids you have. The early days of newborn neediness and toddler tantrums all sort of blend together into a vague cloud of “Oh sure, the early years can be hard.” Which does not even begin to cut it.
Knowing that mommies, especially older mommies have momnesia, it calls into question, the legitimacy of older parents’ claims that their children never did so so and so. “My children never threw tantrums.” “My children from when they were babies always sleep through the night.” “My children never begged for things, when we went to the mall?” Really mommy? Most likely you’re suffering from momnesia.
As our kids grow, our memories of their childhood dim somewhat. We don’t experience those memories in full detail as the years go by. Not like the mom who is just coming out of the breastfeeding, cuddling, diapering, crying, toddling, not sleeping phase remembers them it. Not like the mom who is deep in the throes of it all.
Like I said before some of us are already having momnesia and my children are just 8 and 4 years old respectively.
So, before I let some older mommy out me on a high jump with their generous advice and experiences, I’m going to remember that momnesia is real.
However, that does not downgrade their words of wisdom, and the fact that older moms can sometimes be the best sounding boards you will find around.
But if the discussion shifts to how their kids didn’t exhibit certain behaviours or that their kids never did that. The best thing you can do is just nod along and remember that they probably have momnesia…but don’t worry, they wouldn’t know you know.
Mommas of all ages rock!