Wednesday, December 22, 2004

No Persistence of Memory

My grandfather had a wonderful term for my grandmother's forgetfulness.

"Helen," he'd say, "You're all balled up."

That just about sums it up for me these days. I feel that if my brain encounters one more piece of information, it will just erupt. Picture Terry Jones in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. You know, "One more thin mint. . .", then KABLOOEY.

I'd always had a reasonably satisfactory memory. I could remember appointments, chores, birthdays, financial obligations. Simultaneously, even.

Now that I'm a parent, it seems that any given piece of information enters my brain, flails about for a bit, and quickly vacates the premises. And we're not talking high-level quantum physics, either. Last night, for example, as I walked from room to room, the stream went like this:

Enter kitchen---Oh, I have to sign my brother-in-law's birthday card, and look, Allison's high chair still has crumbs on it, and wow! how did all these dishes get in the sink? Better take care of all that, but first, wait, isn't there something I needed to do upstairs? Right, bring laundry down.

I go upstairs, see the long trail of toys in my bedroom and hallway, pick those up, deduce that Sean is still awake (the repeated calls of "Mommy! Mommy! Mommmmmmmyyyyyyyyy!" tipped me off), go in to see what on earth the problem could be THIS time (as opposed to the five preceding times), leave Sean's room, and go back downstairs. Then I see that the toys in the family room are still strewn about. While picking them up, I remember that my cell phone needs to be charged. But by the time I have finished picking up the toys, all thoughts of the cell phone have disintegrated. I do manage to sweep up the crumbs on the highchair and clean up the dishes.

No laundry was fetched that night, mind you, nor was the birthday card signed or the cell phone charged. I remember these things only retrospectively, when I'm at work and can't do anything about them. By the time I get home I will probably have forgotten about them.

Sometimes I think I am suffering only from Mommy Brain. When I yield to my more pessimistic and apocalyptic thought processes, though, I'm convinced I have a dire neurologic disorder.

Adding to my feelings of gross memory inadequacies is the fact that I am married to Mister My-Mind-Is-a-Steel-Trap. He remembers everything, from what he wore for his third birthday party to the names of every single character in every single Star Wars movie to the battles and generals of World War II. You'll never hear him say, "Hmm, now what did I go into this room for?"

At least one of us isn't all balled up.