Sunday, February 19, 2012

A new twist on forgetting Valentine's Day

I recently wrote a piece for Parents where I shared the many personas of pregnancy.  One such pal I met along the way was Felicia the Forgetful.  She arrived during my first pregnancy at the onset of the second trimester -- right about the time when I forgot to bring my lunch to work and couldn’t remember where I left the car keys.  I naturally assumed she would leave once the baby arrived and, like so many assumptions I had about “when the baby arrived”, I was wrong.

As it turns out, Felicia is here to stay and, the prognosis isn’t good.  I heard a report on the radio the other day that one of the symptoms of perimenopause is forgetfulness.  What does this mean?  I fear it means we ladies don’t stand a chance.  We get a severe case of “Mommy brain” before we even meet our babies and now it seems that a good decade before the big M (Menopause!) sets in, we officially have no chance of finding the mind we lost; it just may be gone forever.  Which brings me to an interesting little tale from this week.  It involves our dog who, under different circumstances, just might have been gone forever as well.

It was Valentine’s Day.  We’re not big believers in Valentine’s Day since my husband rightfully proclaimed many years ago, “when you love the one you’re with, every day is Valentine’s Day.”  So, we didn’t have big plans. Some might say we had no plans at all.  Des was going to take our second-grader to his 6:30 basketball game, leaving me home to tend to dinner for our other four kids.  After basketball, we hoped to hustle them all to bed as quickly as possible and then cuddle in with some wine, fondue and last week’s episode of 30 RockSounds romantic, right?

I got home from work a few minutes earlier than usual and realized I needed to get a baguette for the fondue-dipping.  Perhaps not surprisingly given my post-pregnancy, pre-menopausal brain, I’d forgotten that critical detail for our Valentine’s dinner.  Being the consummate multi-tasker, I decided to take our dog with me while I ran around the corner for bread… it wasn’t quite doggie exercise but, at least it was a chance for our large, loyal lab Finnegan to pee.

I returned home pleased with my bounty and quite content to whip up a Valentine’s meal of “Dinner Eggs” and heart-shaped toast for the kids.  When I cracked the eggs, I recall saying “have you guys seen Finnegan?  That’s weird that he didn’t come running when he heard the eggs crack.”  This is a dog that loves a good eggshell.  Don’t ask. He just does.  In any case, when he didn’t come running, I assumed “we must have left the gate closed at the top of the stairs.” And I carried on.

About 15 minutes later, my sweet Valentine’s kiddie supper had pretty much imploded.  There were fights about the not-so heart-shaped toast, spilled milk and a 5-year old having a fit.  That’s when the phone rang.  In an effort to diffuse the tension, I asked the sobbing 5-year old if she'd like to answer it. And she did.

I couldn’t help but notice the caller i.d. was “Mima” – the name of a cute little Italian restaurant right around the corner.  My heart leapt.  Could it be?  My sweet hubbie had a Valentine’s day surprise in store?  He’d booked a sitter and made a reservation and we were headed out for a late dinner after tucking the tots in?!  It seemed to good to be true.  And, as my confused 5-year murmured “What? You have Finnegan?” into the phone, I realized it was.

As you may have guessed by now, when I went around the corner for that baguette, I left the dog behind.  Tied up and totally forgotten. I never even looked back. When I snatched the phone from my bewildered little girl, the lovely hostess on the other end of the line said “I’m really sorry to bother you but he’s been here over an hour and he’s really starting to look sad.”  Um, oops.  Chalk that one up to Mommy Brain!  

The kids were crushed “You left him in the dark?! All alone?!  On VALENTINE’S DAY?!”  Yes, yes I did.  But, I didn’t mean to.  And, after calling a neighbor to watch the kids while I ran back around the corner to get him, he greeted me with a wagging tail and unconditional love.  And we all had a Happy Valentine’s Day after all.  I think.  Part of me doesn’t quite remember…

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