Monday, January 24, 2011

Where does lost sleep go?

I jolted myself into a new level of linguistic awareness today when I heard myself say to my good friend, who like me had a cranky baby in tow, "Okay, well, I'm gonna get my 'soygurt' and then you can wait at the thing and I'll meet you at the thing." I meant you can go pay at the register and I'll meet you at the table. The problem was not that she didn't understand me--she speaks mommy-ese too I guess.

The problem was that, despite my ability to get a fluffy technicolor dreamcoat of a baby seat cover on that Whole Foods shopping cart and put a mental block on the fact that my son is saturating every box of overpriced veggie-burgers in my cart with his adorable saliva, I can't remember the words for the most basic everyday items--like table!

Six months ago I easily attributed my newly acquired lack of linguistic variety and precise word choice to my inability to read as much as I was reading when I was teaching high school, before I went from Mrs. Vitale to Joshy's Mommy. That worked fine in quelling the sting of my damaged ego in this dramatic loss of communication skills. I re-read Bronte, I re-read Austin. Surely some Victorian literature could resuscitate my linguistic prowess.

Well, I nearly blinded myself reading a couple thousand pages on my IPhone screen and I refreshed my nineteenth-century husband-hunting skills (not so useful for a twenty-first century married chick) but I still found myself at a loss in day-to-day conversations.

I faced embarrassing situations at playgroup--"So which one of those-things-that-babies-sit-on-while-they-eat should l get?" Even moms that don't give their kids organic home-made baby food know what those are called--even moms that feed their babies whipped cream squirted from a can to the kid's mouth know it. (Actually my husband did do this a couple weeks ago, laughing hysterically as I looked on horrified.)

Did I hit my vocabulary rock-bottom there though? No, a few weeks later I was hanging laundry on the line in the backyard (with my Joshy strapped to me in the Bjorn) and dropped a clothespin off the back deck. It took me nearly five minutes to explain to my stepson Jesse what it was that I was hoping he could fetch for me off the grass.

Maybe the answer itself is the reason it took the answer so long to reveal itself to me--I probably can't remember the name of anything because (aside from a few glorious evenings,) I have spent the better part of the past nine and a half months sleeping in two hour segments between night nursing sessions.

I haven't fully researched this, but having my REM sleep interrupted every single time it arrives is probably like putting my synapses in a brain stir-fry. You throw in some words here, stir them around, and pour some sticky high-calorie sauce on top and voila! No wonder I can't find the single word I'm looking for in this mess. It's like I'm looking for the pea at the bottom of the pan.

What happened to those lost words though? I imagine one in dark corner of the basement of my brain, collecting debris like a forgotten sock. Another is more like the last bead on a broken necklace that I'm trying to string together--a sentence I can never quite finish.

The words hang like martyrs lined up for hanging in some parallel universe--executioner giving them the chance for one last word that they themselves can't remember. They will perish confused and alone if I can't find a way to get this kid to sleep in longer bits.

To be continued...


  1. Ugh. I can't remember the names for anything ever and I don't even have a baby. Good luck getting some sleep.

  2. very well written for a person with your affliction