There’s a real epidemic sweeping our country. It affects women exclusively of (or over) child-bearing age, and cuts across socio-economic lines and races. I’ve only experienced it in the United States, but my guess is that it’s really a worldwide problem. No need to check Snopes.com, this is a true issue, not an online hoax: nostalgic amnesia. Worst of all, it’s highly contagious and spread through social interaction.Nostalgic amnesia is a condition wherein the sufferer has mentally whitewashed the gory details and tribulations of child-rearing. Their own children are either grown or older than yours. The afflicted blend seamlessly into any crowd, so it’s impossible to avoid them. Only when you’re at your weakest or most insecure do they make themselves known. There is no way to defend yourself fully. The best technique is just to smile blandly and distance yourself quickly.
Are you the victim of an interaction with a nostalgic amnesia carrier? Here are some common situations to help you determine your risk:
You’re in public with your young children in tow. Suddenly, all hell breaks loose when your older one pinches the younger for no discernible reason. The younger is hysterically scrying (screaming + crying) while the older is defiantly explaining why their sibling totally deserved the attack. As you frantically try to separate, comfort, discern and discipline, another woman stops to survey the chaos. With a wistful look and a half grin, she says, “They grow up so fast. Enjoy every minute.” Surprise! You have been the unwitting victim of nostalgic amnesia.
Your pre-school aged child is having a conniption fit. They’re done with whatever it is you’re still trying to do: run errands, finish a phone call on your cell, think. Flustered, you try to calm or bribe them while finishing your task. While you’ve been distracted with that, a stranger has approached. “How old is your child?,” she asks over the ear-piercing sound of a hissy fit peaking. No matter your answer, hers will be the same: “0h, that’s just the best age,” always said without a hint of irony. It’s too late for Lysol. You’ve been infected.
Your eldest is pouting visibly at the local coffee shop, with arms crossed, lips curved in a sneer, and a glaring stare. You’ve chosen to ignore them and ride out the storm by not making any sudden moves or eye contact, similar to how you’d act if confronted by a wild animal. Looking on the bright side that, though angry, they’re at least quiet, you start to sip your latte and catch up on gossip on your smart phone. Your defenses down, a nostalgic amnesia carrier senses opportunity and shows up at your table.”Oh! Someone’s upset,” they sing-song at your child, inciting deepening anger. Then, looking at you, they counsel “Oh, just wait until they’re a teenager. You’ll wish you were back in these days. It’s so much easier, trust me.” Sigh.
Tragically, there is no known cure for nostalgic amnesia. Ironically, most of those affected go on to spread the disease unintentionally. You do have the power to stop yourself from spreading it, though. Resist the urge to pass judgment on other moms having a hard time in public. If you can’t resist the urge to comment, then commiserate. Offer up a tale of woe from your long ago or current parenting days. Give a knowing look. Be nice. With these simple steps, nostalgic amnesia may be something we can cure within a generation.