Momnesia is Here to Stay
I was supposed to be meeting a brand new friend for lunch yesterday.
Our get-together was going to be the high point of my week. I'd imagined us sitting together, laughing and solving all the world’s problems over sandwiches, salad, and a pot of coffee. It was a great fantasy while it lasted.
Then school was cancelled for my youngest child and my brain switched from general operating mode into maternal problem-solving mode. It became highly selective about the type of data it was willing to receive or retain (data related to “school” and “child” were flagged as top priority) as I went about rearranging my day.
I made plans to work from home so that I could help out another mom from the school who needed childcare for the day. (Besides, having her 11 year old entertain my 11 year old would keep both boys happy and entertained. It was going to be a win-win all around.) That mom dropped off her son, the boys started doing their thing, and I started troubleshooting an email glitch on my computer.
At that point, I discovered a more serious glitch -- a maternal brain processing error that is commonly known as momnesia. When it was deciding which types of information it needed to access to re-plan my day in a hurry, my brain had failed to search the data set “calendar,” choosing instead to search a less reliable data set known as "Ann's memory.”
This was not a good thing.
Shortly after noon, I glanced at the calendar on my computer and discovered that I should have been sitting in a café across town with my new friend.
Standing someone up on a first friend-date is not a proven strategy for making friends. It makes you look like someone who doesn't deserve to have any friends (let alone any more friends). Fortunately, my new friend was very understanding. She told me she doesn’t hold grudges (lucky for me). And she’s willing to rebook lunch. (My treat.)
After I hung up the phone from the apology phone call, I reflected back upon my first episode of momnesia, almost 21 years earlier. The circumstances were eerily similar. I had forgotten another lunch date with a different friend. At the time, I chalked up the momnesia to sleep deprivation, hormones, and the miscellaneous fallout of being a new mom. I concluded the condition was temporary and that I'd soon be back to being my usual, efficient, well-organized self (someone who had created a database to track wedding invitation responses). (Michelle Henry, are you listening?)
Two decades later, I think I have to accept that these occasional episodes of momnesia (a.k.a. parental amnesia) are part-and-parcel of being a parent; and that they are unlikely to disappear while I still have kids living under my roof. If my mom-of-four brain (a brain that has accumulated 68 mom-years of parenting experience and 45-years of life-on-this-planet experience) hasn't been magically cured of momnesia, it's unlikely to become 100% foolproof next week or even next year.
Think about it. If you're asking one human brain to keep track of multiple channels of ever-changing data, and to adjust for repeated data changes or complete data cancellations or overwrites), you’re going to have the odd performance issue.
Overloaded computers crash, maxed out parents forget things. We reboot; apologize (in the case of humans); upgrade our check, check, and double-check systems; and life goes on.