Thursday, April 7, 2011

372. Motherhood is Lost and Found

Lost and Found is a place where you go to retrieve items that you have misplaced in the (vain?) hope that someone turned in your wallet/ car keys/ camera/ favorite sweater. Nine times out of ten, your item is gone forever (probably to the exact same place that the missing socks go in the laundry). But every once in a while, luck winks at you and says, “Okay, you look cold. Here’s your sweater back.”

After I had children, I found myself looking for random chunks of me, pieces that I had just seen two minutes ago. Some missing items: my sanity, my memory, my looks, my money (I did not misplace the wallet, only the money stashed inside). My figure was also lost, although I halfheartedly tried once or twice to find it at the gym—the front desk girl told me no one had turned it in.

I remember the exact moment my sanity disappeared. It was at the hospital, mere hours after giving birth. The kind nurse had taken the baby away to weigh him/ inject him/ test his cognitive ability (choose one), and I started to get panicky. So panicky, in fact, that I irrationally thought I was the victim of a vicious plot to steal healthy babies and sell them to corrupt adoption agencies in distant baby-deprived countries. When The Husband calmly carried my blonde, blue-eyed mini-clone back into the room, I was convinced that this was a mere actor hired to temporarily distract and fool me, and that my “real” baby was on a non-stop plane to Guam.

When I got home from the hospital, I no longer remembered this crazy anecdote, even though The Husband liked to share the amusing tale of MOV’s Vicodin-induced breakdown with any visiting relatives and well-meaning neighbors. Yep, goodbye, memory! Nice knowing you!

The Husband complained that he’d lost a few items as well, although he was much more suspicious that they were actually stolen. He lost his hair. I tried to reason with him, that parenthood was not a thief of hair, and that the true culprit was most likely time. He laughed at me, then pointed (cruelly?) at my gray roots (oh, how I fondly remember my former blonde days) and said, “Kids cause that, not time! All our single friends still have their hair, and it ain’t gray!”

Speaking of friends, I’d lost a couple of those as well. Apparently, baby poop, baby spit-up, baby developmental milestones, baby toys, and baby food were not the favored topics of conversation with my single, childless (and fluffy-haired) peers. If I had a few girlfriends over for lunch and I happened to bring up, say, Tall’s incredible budding musical talent, my friend Tonya might ask, “Are you referring to how he’s been banging on those pots and pans with his shoe for half an hour?” Or Janice might comment, “I don’t think it’s healthy for him to keep whistling through his nose like that.”

See? Not the most supportive friends.

For the next several months, I would glance in the mirror, hoping to find my looks (that is the last place I saw them) to no avail. Tired eyes, lackluster hair, and bloated tummy. I had not only lost my looks, but someone had obviously switched them with these inferior ones. I was outraged!

My money was lost a little while later, most likely at places like Babies ‘R Us, Janie and Jack, Gymboree, and The Lego Store. When I would go back to hunt for it once a week, methodically going up and down every row (including, of course, the well-marked SALE aisles), I inadvertently lost even more money. (Coincidentally, although I’d perpetually lose cash in these retail spots, when I’d abandon my futile quest to eventually leave, the clerks would overload me with huge shopping bags full of treasures. I sensed that the salesgirls felt sorry for me.)

I again mentioned all the things I’d lost to The Husband, hoping that perhaps he could tell me where I’d put them. He shrugged, then picked up a comb and attempted to fix his (thinning) hair; he was absolutely no help at all.

I went to the computer to Google “sanity, memory, looks, money” … maybe other people had had this problem? Before I could even click the mouse, my main screensaver popped up with a striking image of Tall and Short perched on a low branch in the majestic weeping willow in our backyard. They were smiling broadly and holding onto each other and balancing in the tree.

Ah. I may have lost a few things, but what I found was better.

(“Mom’s On Vicodin”)


  1. Lovely. Really nice, MOV. I totally agree.

  2. thank you, couse, one of my favorite essays.

    best (wipes away a tear),


When you write a comment, it makes me feel like I won the lottery or at the very least like I ate an ice-cream sundae. (This has nothing to do with the fact that I did just eat an ice-cream sundae.)