Brain Shrinkage

I messed up royally – again.  Before I tell you what I did, I want you to understand why it’s a big deal.

If there’s one quality my mother embodies, it’s dependability, which is closely related to her extreme organizational skills.  I don’t exaggerate when I say that Mom has never lost anything or failed to do what she says she’ll do.  Her linear, and possibly photographic memory is backed up by an elaborate system of note-taking and filing.

Claiming to have inherited her affinity for organization myself would be disingenuous.  But, for what I lack in natural talent, I was trained to make up for in discipline.  I can chart with the best of them.  Or I could, until I had children.

Husband used to rib me about ‘pregnancy brain’ citing research theorizing that women’s brains shrink during pregnancy.  I went to great lengths to disprove the theory by covering up for my all-too-frequent memory lapses, which I secretly feared amounted to permanent brain damage.  As you know from recent blogs, my mind never did fully recover.

I remember clearly the day I decided to surrender to imperfection in the memory/organization departments.   I simply removed the mask of Utter Competence I had rented and declared myself a mere mortal – free to make mistakes andforgive myself without excuses.  That very month, I forgot to invite my daughter’s godmother – on my husband’s side – to a birthday party.  (It’s always worse when you mess up with the in-laws rather than your own kin.)  

My error registered as an immense transgression.  Shock waves shot through the family.  You’d have thought the sun forgot to rise by the way people reacted.

Determining not to let their disappointment scare me back into perfectionist tendencies, I simply said, “Oh, I forgot,’ and prayed really hard that would suffice.  Vaguely, I recalled something I read about ‘giving up perfect.’  The sage warning was, ‘When you stop being perfect, don’t expect it to be a popular decision.’   People were used to my dependability in these matters.  Well, they’d have to adjust because imperfect me was here to stay.

Further proving my committment to imperfection has been easier – and more enjoyable – than I could have imagined.  Aside from the occasional frustration it causes, I rather like imperfect me.  Of course, I do occasionally feel a bite of horror, like today when I was informed that I forgot to acknowledge my mother-in-law’s birthday (two weeks ago!)  Yes, it is my husband’s mother and he forgot too.  But then, men aren’t laden with the same expectations as women in this regard.  Ultimately, I take ownership.  After all, I am the one in charge of the fancy calendar.  How did I miss this?  It’s not like it’s a new entry!

I can’t be sure my mother-in-law forgives me this oversight, but truthfully, it doesn’t matter.  Harsh sounding, I know.  In defense, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my imperfection training, it’s that self-approval is more important than approval from others.  I am sorry for forgetting, but I cannot – will not – revert to perfectionism.  It hurts my head.  I choose, instead, to offer my soggy, over-saturated brain some compassion.  It can only do so much.

Years from now, this too will be forgotten.  It will be replaced by subsequent mistakes and hopefully, some triumphs as well.  I hope the scale will be balanced, so that I will be balanced too.

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