When it comes to Mom’s memory, forget about it

Motherhood changes a woman in so many ways that she’s never the same person again. Something happens during the birthing process that not only warps her cognitive skills, but messes with the nerve cells that control memory and the ability to focus on one thing at a time. No wonder moms share a common characteristic, and that is forgetfulness. The frequency of these amnesia-like attacks increases over the years, in much the same way that the mismatched assortment of plastic drinking cups and lids with chewed straws accumulate over time.

Otherwise, how else can I explain why I repeatedly call family members by their wrong names, including my own dog Luci, until I get it right? There’s only one explanation for such bizarre behavior: motherhood. Many moms share this embarrassing predicament. We all forget our destinations while we drive our cars. We all walk into a room to get something, and our minds go blank. Sure, there’s a purpose for our actions, but we just can’t recall what it is.

For me, my short-term memory is the worst. That’s why I never can find my car keys, for example. Before I became a mom, I rarely lost my keys. Now my keys disappear right before my eyes. I have the same problem with other accessories, including my driver’s license, insurance card, sunglasses, and coupons for car washes, not to mention umbrellas and fruit-flavored ChapSticks. Once, I even mistook a pack of Trident for my rectangular remote clicker at the bottom of my tote and consequently locked the keys inside my van. Thankfully, the engine wasn’t running, at least not that time.

I misplace my keys at least three times in a 24-hour period, depending on the weather, my outfit, and the day of the week. How can I possibly keep track of my keys when I change my jacket, purse, gym bag, and vehicle more often than my son switches television channels?

Most husbands, including mine, can’t relate to their wife’s dilemma. Scott keeps his keys and wallet inside what appears to be a bottomless pocket of his faded Levi jeans. For the most part, he empties his stash in a basket that I’ve conveniently placed right inside the laundry room door. Sounds like a logical way for me to organize my stuff as well, but for some reason my keys never seem to find their way in the handy container.

Instead, my keys end up in the strangest places. My keys are known to dangle from a doorknob, hide inside the mailbox, or bury under a frozen pepperoni pizza. When my keys are lost, I get frustrated because I have to spend valuable time searching for them again. Like most moms who multi-task in so many directions at one time, my attempts to retrace my steps are darn near impossible. After I throw off my coat, I put the eggs in the refrigerator, preheat the oven, answer a few emails, devour a granola bar, walk the dog, wipe the sticky countertop, and separate darks and lights without paying much attention to where I lay my keys. Not until I get back in the car again to take the kids to their orthodontist appointment do I realize that my keys are even missing once again. I would surrender to the extra set of keys if I could remember where I keep the emergency spares.

Funny how I lecture my kids on how to put their things away when they finish using them, whether it’s math homework, sweaty socks, or dirty dishes. So when I shout, “Where are my keys?!” for the hundredth time, they have every right to say, “Wherever you left them, mom.”

“Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom who never stays home. Her stories are inspired by the real life of her family, including her two children, toy poodle named Luci, and her husband, but not necessarily in that order. Feel free to send any comments, prayers or recipes to: [email protected] or visit her new website at www.mishegasofmotherhood.com.