Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Amnesia (Babble)

I like to think I have a pretty good brain.  It keeps track of all kinds of appointments and everyone’s shoe sizes and a long list of arbitrary toddler preferences about food and silverware.

But some things I never remember.  Not until they recur, at least, and then every time I think, “Oh yeah, this again.”  The classic example for me is every month I think my period is done early, but my husband (when he’s here) reminds me it’s just the fake-out before the last couple of days of flow.  So while I’m thinking of some of the things I never remember specific to my husband’s recent visit, I thought I’d jot them down in the hopes that maybe they’ll finally stick.  I feel as if future homecomings will go smoother if I can just not let that selective amnesia creep in.

The first example that came up during the Christmas visit was that my husband is always allergic to the house when he gets back.  Apparently the desert is great for combating allergies.  Ian said in Iraq everyone’s skin cleared up and no one sniffled.  Ian’s always had trouble with certain kinds of pets and dust, and every time he comes home I forget that I need to do a really thorough cleaning before he arrives. 

We wasted two whole days of our time together washing all the bedding and curtains and futon covers and beating the rugs to death in the backyard.  Dusting is just not a priority for me normally, and since it doesn’t affect anyone else in the house when Ian’s not around I don’t think of it.  It’s all I can do to keep the kids fed and bathed and the toys picked up, so dust is unsightly to me, but it never strikes me as an urgent problem.  When Ian returns from any time away with the Army there are a few minutes of happy greetings, and then he starts sniffling and sneezing and I feel about as horrible as he sounds.  I’m trying to etch it into my brain that I need to attack the dust before he comes home, not wait until he gets here.

The other thing is not really specific to deployment, but it’s more noticeable because of it.  I have to stop expecting that he knows what I want.  I don’t know why this takes me by surprise every time, but it does without fail.  I know during this last visit he was technically the one on a break from something, but I just assumed he would do what needs doing and I would get a break too.  I don’t mean to say he did nothing, because that’s certainly not the case, but he never seems to pick the things I want him to do when I want him to do them.  (As I write that down it looks completely unreasonable, but it doesn’t feel that way in real life.  I’m sure I’m guilty of the same thing, but he’s too polite to say it.) 

Certain things seem to me to be obvious, and apparently they just aren’t.  He was great about dishes and a couple of specific projects I requested, but I was up extra late every night playing catch up with the cleaning.  He gave me time to myself at the violin store which was great, and I got to take Aden out alone to see the Nutcracker for an afternoon, but then I got home and all the stuff I would have done in that time still needed to get done.  The laundry still needed to be finished and the kitchen table was sticky (that one really bugs me) and there was massive clutter everywhere.  I hated that I spent any of my short time with him home being annoyed, but there were evenings where he just read a book and went to bed and I muttered to myself while tossing legos into a box so I wouldn’t step on them in the night.  I know in his mind he’s keeping out of my way somehow, but it ends up feeling like instead of sharing the work I am just picking up after one more person.  Next time I will try to be clear about what I want so there won’t be any misunderstanding. I won’t assume he’ll jump in and tackle the projects I think look obvious.

I need to remember to buy food my husband likes that I don’t.  He gets home and the first day he doesn’t know what to do for lunch.  Not that this isn’t easily remedied, but still, I’m amazed that I can’t think to pick up pickle relish until I watch him open the fridge.
We both need to start remembering that when Ian comes home and tries to get the kids to toe the line that he sounds scarier than I do.  He can say exactly the same things I say and in the same tone, but coming from a man it sounds more threatening.  Ian’s a gentle and sweet guy, but we always have at least one episode when he comes back where someone winds up cowering behind my knees because the way daddy told them to pick up toys scared them.  I want to avoid this, so if I can just keep it in my head that maybe Ian shouldn’t be doing any disciplinary things for the first month until they’re used to the sound of him again it could help.

And this has nothing to do with deployment, but while I’m on the subject of memory, before I go to bed tonight I’m going to try and remember to sew up the holes in my coat pockets.  I think there are at least two sets of keys currently in the lining of my winter coat because I never remember the holes are there after I take the coat off.  Every time I’ve gone outside in the past two months I’ve thought, “Oh yeah!  Got to sew up those stupid pockets!”  Of course, living in the mental obstacle course that is raising children, it’s not surprising that every time we get inside the house someone is offering up a distraction that boots the pocket problem right out of my head, but still.  (Stupid pocket holes.)

I’m sure there are many more things I could add, but compiling a list of things I can’t remember is, by definition, a bit of a paradox.  (Sort of like when my grandmother was given pills for her memory and couldn’t recall if she’d taken any.  Don’t know why the doctors didn’t see that one coming.)

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