Why being a mum makes you forget, and much more, in this month's tales from the crib…
As I sit here writing, I don’t actually know what day it is.
It’s not that I think it’s a Wednesday and it’s actually Tuesday. I simply don’t know. Like most of the other important stuff I once knew, it has just been forgotten, mis-remembered or confused. Perhaps it’s a Monday. It feels like a Monday.
My memory loss started when I was pregnant, but I thought it might come trickling back once I gave birth. How wrong could I be? Nowadays, I have to draw myself a map before I drive off in my car, I have to check my shoes match and, I’m terrified to admit, I even have to double check my clothes are on. I recently opened the front door and then panicked, convinced I had forgotten to get dressed but too afraid to look down and check. (I had dressed, and my shoes even matched my top.)
Things are getting so bad that before I went to see my friend Linda the other day, I spent the morning leaving myself reminder notes, not only on every available wall and surface but also on my phone: ‘Linda, 12, don’t forget’. I even asked other friends to call and warn me that I had to leave the house at 11.30. When I arrived at the pre-arranged time and place, gleaming with pride, Lena was pretty annoyed that I’d forgotten her name.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Full cups of tea go cold and untouched. Song lyrics are distant smudges in the back of my mind. Valentine’s Day came and went without even a whisper – another event which fell foul to the non-functioning grey matter blowing around my empty head like tumbleweed.
I’d try writing things down but unfortunately I’ve forgotten where I put my pen and paper. I think my memory is like a conveyer belt. Something new is added and something old drops off the end. Or, truth be told, five or six things.
My memory is worse than that of a goldfish. No, really. I thought I remembered reading that goldfish only have a three-second memory, but it turns out this is not true. When I went on the internet to check if it was three or 30 seconds, I was blown out of the water (excuse the pun) to discover that researchers believe fish cannot only remember things for about three months, they can be trained to follow a routine. Beaten by a pretty useless domestic pet on two counts.
So, with the back-up fish-have-less-memory-than-me excuse down the toilet, I had to find another reason for my sieve-like brain. And I found it.
It’s called ‘mumnesia’, and it’s been proven as a valid and legitimate defence by researchers in America.
It’s all to do with surging hormones and, although I am slightly concerned as it is only supposed to last six months and mine is still in a chronic stage nine months on, I’m not too bothered as sometimes memory loss makes for an interesting and challenging day.
Reassuringly, this insight into the ever-diminishing mummy memory does say that you don’t forget the important things, such as feeding the baby or going out without him (although I always feel better once I’ve checked the back seat a couple of times before leaving the car park).
I have decided it’s time to give myself a break. From now on, every time I feel like I have failed one of life’s daily basic tasks, I can just say, ‘That’ll be the mumnesia.’
And on the bright side, as most of my friends are mums too, it seems living without a functioning memory isn’t so bad after all.
It’s hard to stand someone up when they don’t even remember you’re coming. You can’t be in the bad books when the person you forgot to call back has no recollection of your promise to get in touch. Everybody forgives, or at least forgets, when you get a name or two wrong or if you don’t turn up to an appointment the other mummy forgot to book in the first place.
So really, life is much calmer when you can forget 90 percent of everything, and although I have to accept that my husband thinks he’s living with a simpleton, Sam seems happy enough. We share more experiences than I could have ever imagined: he often looks at his feet wondering what they are for, and, sometimes, so do I.By Emma Milner
Time Out Dubai,