The Unbearable Forgetfulness of Parenthood

1 October 2014


Today I forgot my purse and had to walk home from town to get it –a sweaty 40 minute frantic dash – only to find it on the kitchen table. This is totally normal behaviour. (It happened last week, in fact.)

People talk about ‘Baby Brain’, but 7 years into motherhood my addled mind could still put a sieve full of Swiss cheese to shame. It’s a wonder I remember to put my knickers on in the morning. *feels cold breeze through gusset*

Am I going senile? Well maybe, but I blame motherhood. I think that the problem is that mothers have so much to remember that the things we should naturally remember – like whether we’ve fed our kids or picked them up from nursery- go by the wayside.

Just think of all the mental targets you have to hit every day. You remembered to buy nappies. You remembered to get glue and glitter for that school project. You remembered to buy the Skylanders Frubes, not the girly Frozen Frubes. You remembered that the kid who is coming round for that playdate likes Quorn bolognaise. You also remembered to put a £1 in your child’s wallet for the Fairtrade/Children in Africa raffle. And you booked haircuts, and dentist appointments and paid your own bills and remembered to clean your teeth. (You DID remember to clean your teeth, didn’t you, stinky?)

But in this tightly woven mesh of daily life, there are inevitably some things that slip through the net. And they turn out to be pretty important things, too - like your PIN number.

It SHOULD be ingrained in there, engraved on your cerebral cortex forever. All it takes, though, is one request for a lolly here, and one screaming child there, and those four magic numbers slide out of your head like a Total Wipeout contestant going down a chute covered in margarine. My friend, who is yet to turn 30, is eternally locked out of her account, on the phone to the bank like an old lady, yelling ‘ I think it was 1234. Or it could have been 4321?’

While I (mostly) remember my PIN, I suffer from general confusion, like thinking my son’s tennis lesson is his swimming lesson and not knowing for the life of me when things are supposed to start or finish. I forget to bring vital things with me, never have a bottle of water, or a reply slip or the right kit. I always return from the supermarket without a pint of milk, and the toilet roll situation is always at a critical Def Poo One level. (Shit, that reminds me, I forgot to buy gravy granules).

Some people I know are even worse than me. Parents of multiple kids don’t remember their own children’s names half the time, and by the time you have a third kid, leaving it on the bus becomes increasingly likely. Another friend was so flustered when her kid started secondary school that she forgot how to tie a tie, didn’t give him a packed lunch and almost forgot to pick him up.

But the thing is, there are loads of stupid things that I never fail to remember – things I wish I could forget. Like the theme tune to Space Pirates, for example. But it’s there, even though that stupid show hasn’t been on Cbeebies for years, chuntering around in my head.

I wish I could forget Dick and Dom’s stupid faces, or the names of the Moshi Monsters, or Jedward. I would happily sign up for a Men In Black Mind Wipe never to hear the names Stampy Longnose or Ballistic Squid again. All these things are forever locked in my mind. But can I remember my cash card, or my Gmail password, or the name of my kid’s teacher? Can I heck.

So what to do? Well, people tell you to write things down and become more organised, but I lose my lists. If I do manage to find any of my lists eventually, they will have lost all meaning and just say things like ‘Feed cat.’ (Don’t have a cat) or ‘Remember get eggs for thing?’ like some kind of M16 secret code. And don’t tell me to get a calendar. If I had a weekly planner, I would probably forget to fill it in. Or put it on the wall.

Instead most of us just muddle through, never knowing whether we’ve forgotten to turn the oven off or lock the back door. Modern life and its demands have turned us into prematurely doddering old biddies, panicking and ransacking our brains while our kids assault us with increasingly more complicated demands that make us forget the things we were trying to remember.

There must be a solution, though. There must be organised Mums out there who have got remembering things down to a fine art? If you’ve got a brilliant tried and tested way to help me remember my purse, please get in touch. Failing that, can someone please invent an app called ‘WAKE UP GRANDMA!’ which beeps when we forget to pick up the kids?

TOPICS:   Community Favourites   Parents

1 comment

  • natsbee
    I thought it was just me! Thank you for this, I definitely wasn't this scatty before I had kids, and now it makes sense..... Its because I have way more things to remember!

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