Parental Amnesia

I like to think that I remember my children growing up pretty well. The important details of their lives are etched on my memory and are unlikely to fade with each passing year.

For instance, both the First Born and the Boy Wonder were 49.5cm long when they were born and weighed 6lbs 9oz. Imagine my joy when the Bear Cub also weighed in  the same! (The Little Boofuls was ironically the biggest and ruined this piece of symmetry; still, more of her to love!)

As time passes, I’m starting to realise that I’m questioning my own memories compared to those of the other half. The Little Boofuls is not sleeping well at present – actually this is an understatement and the word ‘well’ could be removed and the sentence would still be accurate…

Anyhow, I digress.

In a recent discussion, steeped in despair and searching for answers where there are none, I mentioned that the Bear Cub was the same – in my mind, a terrible sleeper. However my other half corrected me as she believed he was a better purveyor of snoozy time than his sister. 

I’m confused. We appear to have two differing views of the same event. And it’s not the first time it has happened. Regularly, I find myself questioning the accuracy of what I remember. 

Am I losing my mind?

Probably not – as a father, I tend to forget one very simple fact; I probably wasn’t there! Let’s take the sleep example; I remember my sleep being disturbed on the odd occasion that I was actually conscious enough to register it. My long suffering other half remembers that actually the gaps between feeds and his ability to resettle quickly made him a better sleeper. 

The difference; she was there! I can sleep through pretty much anything once my head is down, so I miss loads at night. She however lived every minute of his nightly waking, as she does with his sister. The wonder of breast feeding.

The same applies with the daytime – I was at work so missed how well the Bear Cub fed at certain mealtimes, how stroppy the kids can be at certain parts of the day, who developed speech / crawling / walking the quickest / slowest etc…

Not being there is not criticism of your parenting skills but a reminder of a real reality. Dads miss stuff. Only a few lucky men get to truly watch every minute of their children developing. In some cases, it’s circumstance that brings them there (often not of their choosing) and for others it may be a more conscious choice. 

But for the rest of us – we were busy elsewhere, living the dream! So are we in a position to provide an accurate history of our children’s lives?

Would you try and tell your other half that the birthing experience they remember ‘wasn’t so bad’… 

…or that breastfeeding ‘couldn’t hurt that much’…

Of course you wouldn’t. Why? Because you have no frame of reference. Because you lack all of the facts and most importantly of all, because you have a healthy respect for your own life!

So a lesson for the rest of you dads out there who, like me are the second best parent. You may find yourself questioning your other half when they give you what appears to be an alternative reality compared to your memory of a subject. My advice is simple; don’t correct them; correct yourself. The likelihood is that they lived it and are unlikely to ever forget any of it. 

And one day, I might even follow this advice myself! If only I could remember…

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