Calm down. Hear me out.
Confession #1: I’m not a Double D. Just a Single D. But that is neither here nor there.
Confession #2: This post is not about cup size. This post is about something entirely different. And far less sexy.
Confession #3: This post is about details. And, yes, I gave it this title and posted a come-hither picture of a lavender bra to get you to read it. One day I might have enough confidence in myself and in my words and won’t feel compelled to play these gimmicky games.
So, details? Yes, details. Sorry to disappoint. I know you were momentarily excited that your stodgy Professor of Insecurities was about to lighten up and get raunchy. For now, I will leave it to my cherished colleagues to talk about the sexy stuff and existential cleavage. One day I might join them in pondering these goodies. But today is not that day. Today I have a confession to make. Another one.
I am a Double D. A Detail Delinquent.
My mind, my good mind, is sturdy in spots. It spins stories. It crafts characters. It is the architect of deep questions and daring metaphors. But in other spots, my mind is mesh. Full of tiny holes through which things – details – slip like sand. No, not every detail is lost. Freakishly, I am able to recall nuances of memories, of essays I wrote in high school, questions from the New York State Bar Exam. My mind has a capacity for certain details. But not for other ones. Like the ones that are important. Like the ones that pepper my days. Like the ones that actually affect me and my life and my family.
Witness this weekend. It was a good weekend. Full of reminders of my fallibility. A slice of my life as a Double D.
FRIDAY. On Friday afternoon, I had two fellow Preschool mothers over for a play date. The kids frolicked while we moms chatted. At one point, the other moms started talking about next year’s tuition deposit that was due a week ago.
At first, I nodded. Played along. But then I indulged in a question. “Wait, when was that due?”
“A week or so ago. They say they cannot guarantee our children a place in the school unless that deadline was met.”
“Oh, I see,” I said. Playing it cool. And then excused myself and hopped up and jogged to my laptop and fired off an apologetic email to the appropriate person at Preschool. I told her that we love the school! That I am a flake! That I miss deadlines all the time! Within minutes, I received a sympathetic note back assuring me that everything would be fine. That Toddler would not be booted from her beloved school because of my utter ineptitude.
SATURDAY MORNING. On Saturday morning, I was struck by a wave of guilt about my persistent case of Pathetiquette. I told Husband that I was on a mission to knock out all thank-you notes from Christmas and Toddler’s third birthday! Husband encouraged this odd and very unlike-me surge of enthusiasm. He helped by printing gift lists we had been organized enough to keep. (Go us!) I fetched stacks of stationery. And got to work. I made it through the Christmas thank-yous and then moved on to the birthday ones. I took a quick look at the list. There were only seven names. Now, several families did not attend Toddler’s party after my sinister swine confession, but many more than seven did. Husband assured me that there were at least twenty kids at the party.
And then I remembered something. Toddler had opened only a few of her gifts the night of her party (seven) and the rest over the following days. And I had been diligent enough to record her gifts in my phone. But then? I lost my phone.
And so. I sat there mining my memory, trying to remember what particular kids had given Toddler for her birthday and I had zero clue. I know there were books and babies and tea sets and I remember her glee when opening these items, but the rest is fuzzy. My brain was utterly devoid of details. And so I wrote some variation of the following note over and over.
Thanks so much for the great birthday gift. My delinquent mother lost her phone wherein she recorded many of my gifts, so I’m not sure what exactly you gave me, just that I love it! Please forgive my mom. She tries!
Love, Toddler & Fam
It was an honest note. Toddler did love each and every one of the gifts she received. And I am delinquent when it comes to many things. Like the start time for the first day of school. Like important birthdays. Like the details of my days. And I do try. Hard. Maybe not hard enough? (What is hard enough?)
After seeking forgiveness from fellow parents, I decided to the unthinkable: forgive myself. Something which I am not very good at doing. But, again, I tried.
SATURDAY AFTERNOON. On Saturday afternoon, the four of us went to a wonderful birthday party for Toddler’s good friend. There was live music and lively company. Kids ran wild and exasperated parents ran after them, splashing tired smiles. There were cupcakes and canapes. I had bits and pieces of conversations with good friends. One friend pinned me with a simple question, “Hey, are you coming next weekend?”
I looked at her, blankly no doubt. “Next weekend…” And then it came back to me. Her daughter’s party. “Yes, the party! Of course! I am so sorry I didn’t let you know. I am not good at these things.”
She smiled and rocked her tiny new son. “No worries,” she said.
And I smiled too. But behind that smile, there were worries. Plenty of them. Behind my well-practiced grin, things were decidedly more complicated. Behind that easy-breezy facade, my mind, my good mind, the mind I cherish and curse, chided me for failing. Yet again. The fog of forgiveness lifted revealing insecurity and imperfection and guilt.
And then we went home. To the safety of our chaos. We wrangled the girls toward bed. We read books about little bears and sang made-up songs. We picked PJs.
SUNDAY. On Sunday morning, as the girls played on the carpet, Husband and I surrendered to the couch. I snuggled up into his arm and we talked. About breeds of detail. Species of disappointment. Levels of delinquency.
As is par for the course, Husband said something simple and sage. And sweet. He said that he thinks different kinds of people have different capacities for detail. That creative people probably have less room for logistical and practical bits, but that accountants and others whose livelihood is hinged on particulars are probably very good with these things.
I am creative, I told myself as fibers of forgiveness floated about once more.
And then my mind went rogue. I thought of Dad. How we girls used to mock him for having his head in the clouds. For being a bit absent. A bit out to lunch. For being able to retain lush details about his favorite philosophers, but unable to remember many details, important everyday details, like the names of our friends, or the times of his meetings.
Dad was a Double D too. Maybe, just maybe, it’s genetic.
I think of this now and smile. Because I loved Dad deeply. Even his cosmological cloudiness. Even his meandering ways.
I think of this and worry. Because I want to be focused. And here. And on top of all the little things, the important things, that make up life. My life. Their life. Our life. Life.
What size is your BRA (Basic Retention Ability)? AA (Absolutely Always remember details) or DD (Detail Delinquent like me) or somewhere in between? Do you think that we can get better about these things or do you think our minds have a certain predetermined or acquired capacity to retain only certain kinds of information? If you believe that we can alter our BRA size, our ability to retain, how exactly do we do this? (Please don’t tell me to write things down. I do write things down. And then I don’t read them!)
(If you would prefer to talk about actual boobs and bra size, go ahead. That would be fun too.)
***I’m thrilled to announce that Debra Schubert was the winner of the advance copy of LIFE AFTER YES. Congrats, Debra!***