Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How Did I Get Here?

I recently pulled into a spot in the Target parking lot, hung up my phone and thought: "How the hell did I get here?" This was not a metaphysical question. At that moment, I had no memory of driving there, who it was I had just been speaking to, and no bloody idea what I was there to buy.

You may ask yourself: "Had she been drinking?" A very good question! But sadly, no. Besides, I would never drink and drive. They say texting and driving is almost as bad. And I would never do that either. Unless I was at a red light. Or in really bad traffic. Because that is texting and stopping. And therefore doesn't count. Safety first, people. But I digress...

What explanation do I have for this moment of amnesia in the Target parking lot? I have none. My father describes the years when his children were young as "The Blur". So that's where I was - deep in the Blur. My father is a somewhat inconsistent source of wisdom on parenting issues, but he hit the nail squarely on the head with this one. I am on a 24-hour cycle of waking, sleeping, nursing, napping, cooking, cleaning, wiping, folding, dropping off, picking up and putting away. And it never ever ends. I was once a very smart person. I was 2 semesters into a Doctorate when I had my first kid. Now, I am a moron. That's what The Blur has done to me.

It's not just my (questionably sane) family, either. My friend has three girls that were born within four years of each other, during which time her husband was frequently deployed. She is totally together, beautiful and smart. She is also completely into her kids, who adore her. When I asked her what her youngest was like as a baby, she just looked at me, blinking. "I have no idea," she said "You don't think I remember any of that, do you? 2003-2006 is basically just a stretch of unpleasant fuzziness with a lot of diapers thrown in." The Blur got her, too.

Let us establish consensus on a few points. First, The Blur is real. Second, it is coming for you. Third, sooner or later it will get you. Should you wonder if this eventuality has already come to pass, here is a handy checklist. If any of the following remind you of yourself, its too late - you're in The Blur:

  • You open the fridge and stare at its contents. You try to remember what you need. You see that you have a cup of black coffee in your hand and think gleefully: "Ahh.. yes... Milk!" Later, when you see one of your children staring vacantly at the open refrigerator, you yell at them to close the door before they cool the whole damn house.
  • You think you returned an important phone call. You suddenly think, maybe I didn't. Maybe I am just remembering that I was supposed to. You check your cell phone's call log to find no record of any call. You sigh, dial the remarkably familiar number to hear the voice of the receptionist you just spoke with. On your home phone. You quickly hang up before speaking.
  • You and your spouse are finally alone in a quiet house at 9:45 pm. You have a conversation consisting entirely of one-syllable words (i.e. "Good day?" or "Paid Sprint?") and grunts ("Mmm hmm"). Also, nodding. Then one of you falls asleep.
  • You hear one of the little terror suspects bleating from the back seat: "Mooooommm, what are we doing here? We're supposed to be at praaaactice not my schooool!" and realize that your subconscious drove you to the wrong place as you mentally planned how to fit six hours of work into the twenty minutes you will have at home. Now you are late. Panic ensues.
  • Tuning out the chattering of little monkeys, you relax for a moment. You look at your beautiful daughter, smile and say: "So, how was school today? Did Miss Brown substitute for you again?", all the while congratulating yourself that you are so in touch with what's happening in her class. She looks concerned and answers: "Um... Mommy, you already asked me that. Twice."
  • You find yourself in the Target parking lot, wondering how did I get here? Why am I here? Who was that on the phone? What's my name? Where's my tail? (Thankfully, cell phones are useful sources of historical information and I found a list in my pocket that said - Target: flour, half and half, cat litter, wine).
Since I am clearly trapped in The Blur for the foreseeable future, I see no other course of action but to try and enjoy it. I have tried and failed to retrieve some of my former intellectual sharpness, for example, the ability to remember my home phone number. In a given week, I might have one good day. But with that mental clarity comes a self-awareness that can be painful. A bit like a long look in the mirror, in blaring natural sunlight, with a bad hangover. Then comes the metaphysical question: "Oh. My. Gawd. How did I get here?"

So, I choose to embrace The Blur - perhaps it's the Universe trying to make this phase of my life easier. Why fight it? It's temporary. Someday I might be smart again, maybe. I will be able to think complex thoughts or construct a sentence or read books intended for adults. But until then... Bring on the size XL glass of wine every night! Facebook? Oh hell yes. Real Housewives of New Jersey? Thank you very much, I will. People Magazine, US Weekly, and other IQ-sucking publications? You betcha. Twilight saga? Bring it. You know what Blur, I might even miss you when you're gone.

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