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Is It Common to Forget Things When You Become a Parent?

I Became a Mother, Then Promptly Lost My Memory

Apparently, if you lose your car keys somewhere between your car and work, it'll cost your spouse $20 in gas, $42 for a replacement key from the car dealership, one dirty look from your spouse, and a partridge in a pear tree.

This has happened to me on several occasions. This particular time, I met my husband in the parking lot. He did his own missing key search. With a single swipe of his hand, he tossed me my lost keys. It turns out they were never actually lost. The keys were stuck between my seat and console the entire time.

Driving home from work, my thoughts were consumed with the hectic day. I wondered how I always got myself in these predicaments. I was two blocks from my house when I slammed the brakes.

"OMG!" I yelled. I didn't pick up my kids from the babysitter.

Giddy-up. U-turn.

Another time, I yelled at my son for not eating lunch. I opened up the microwave to reheat my coffee when I saw the bowl of spaghetti. Evidently, I forgot to give him his lunch.

Just the other day, I forgot to feed my third child dinner. She took a late afternoon nap, awaking just as we finished dinner. I heated her dinner with the intention of feeding her at the picnic table while my other children played in the yard.

After my 1-year-old played outside, she splish-splashed in the tub. "Mommy, I hun-gee," she whined.

"Already? You just—" I stopped, horrified. "OMG!"

Her dinner was still on the counter.

I have a psychology degree and a master's from Penn State University. I studied Shakespeare in England. I backpacked the Yucatan Peninsula studying historical, cultural, geographical, and linguistic backgrounds. I stood in the ruins of Chichen Itza recalling facts I learned from history classes. I slept in the Yucatan jungle memorizing local Mayan advice in case I faced off with a jaguar.

Yet, I cannot remember to feed my children. And let's not even talk about the number of times I forget where I put my coffee in a day or why I walked into a room.

What is wrong with me? I get so frustrated with myself.

Do you know if you forget the gas nozzle in your gas tank when you pull out of the gas station, it will cost you $126?

It's not just my body and psyche that are affected by my memory lapse. My forgetfulness takes a beating on our checking account. My husband has to work a side job just to pay the costs of my memory loss. Do you know if you forget the gas nozzle in your gas tank when you pull out of the gas station, it will cost you $126?

Is your memory not what it used to be? Oh good, we're both normal! I'm glad we got that out of the way.

Good news. Many people struggle with memory loss at a young age. There is an embarrassing amount of research studying why we forget when we walk into a room. I am not making this up. Apparently, this is a great mystery of the universe scientists want answers to.

I'm not claiming to be a genius, but I discovered the answer to this question years ago when I became a mom: pregnancy hormones, the stress of birth and child-rearing, and extreme fatigue cause forgetfulness. The damage to my pelvic muscles and bladder (evident when I cough, laugh, or do other physical activities) after birthing three children in three years does not even come close to the damage to my brain's temporal lobe, which is essential for memory function.

I lost my memory when I found motherhood.

Having children permanently affects women's brains, says Liisa Galea of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Dr. Galea says giving birth results in an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's-like conditions. Do you have multiple children? Wonderful! You have a greater risk of getting dementia in later life.

It's interesting, though. There are moments of motherhood that are unforgettable. Like when you see your baby's face for the first time. Or when you smell your baby for the first time. Unforgettable. Everything else? Forgotten. Moments when you feel like you are really losing it can be extremely scary, and unfortunately, there is no cure. We just have to pull up our mom jeans and deal with it.

We may as well find advantages to our memory loss. Some benefits include forgetting the time your precious child cursed, loudly, in a restaurant; the time your children tested your limits, causing you to snap at the grocery store; when you forgot to buckle your child's car seat; and when you fought with your spouse in front of your innocent children, fearing you traumatized them for life.

Memory deficits are a healthy coping skill to get through some of motherhood's roughest and guiltiest patches. I will go for days feeling like the worst mom ever because of a memory lapse situation that could have, potentially, harmed my children. But then, because of fatigue and daily hustlin', I forget about the sinking feeling that I am failing as a mother.

I remember forgetfulness is a small price to pay for my three greatest blessings. I brought new lives into this world. An experience some women crave with all their being but, sadly, will never have. In all that I forget daily, I never forget how fortunate I am.

Recently, my children and I snuggled watching Finding Dory. It's a movie choice that I encouraged, so they would learn about compassion. I never imagined I would feel such a strong connection to Dory, who has low self-regard and struggles with herself. It was profoundly powerful watching Dory's breakthrough in learning to trust herself.

This family movie night was intended to educate my children that disabilities are not the same as limitations. However, I received the education. I had my own breakthrough that I am a good mom no matter what. Throughout the movie, I couldn't help but wonder how Dory lost her memory. I chuckled — maybe Dory has children she forgot about?

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