Documentary?

Reality show?

Comedy?

Horror movie?

If you’re like me, chances are it’s All of the Above.

In keeping with my recent experiences with diminishing cognitive functionality (wait… did I have a recent experience with diminishing cognitive functionality?), I recently failed to follow-up on something at work and it really upset me. It was not an earth-shattering My Bad and no humans were harmed in the course of my forgetfulness, but considering all the ridicule to which my ever-vanishing short-term memory has been subjected to by my husband and kids, it bothered me. I am a champion multi-tasker and pride myself in my attention to detail, yet lately the detail is brain fog-inducing.

I recall a conversation I had a year ago with my doctor. I told her I thought I was losing my mind because I kept forgetting things. She didn’t bat an eye, responding, “If I had a quarter for every 40-something female patient I saw who said that, I could have retired long ago.”  So very reassuring, but not entirely helpful. She suggested adding Sudoku to engage my brain.  “Really, Doctor?  Since you’re adding one more thing to my To-Do list, do you think you could also prescribe some Ritilin?  Because honestly, Doc, there aren’t enough hours in a day.”  I briefly debated with her the merits of a midline catheter for intravenous caffeine injections, but soon let it go… at least so far she thought I was normal.

But if you pause to think what the average 40-something is expected to remember, it’s no small wonder we feel like we’re going crazy.  I’m sure you can you relate to the following questions I ask myself between 6:00 and 7:15am, before I even leave the house:

Did I run the dishwasher last night?

Did I close the garage door last night?

Is there any milk in the house?

Was I supposed to bring something to my 9:00am meeting?

What did I book this 9:00am meeting for again?

Do I need to take anything out of the freezer for dinner?

Are there any tampons in my purse?

“Who’s doing what and where today (aka, does my office attire have to be suitable for climbing bleachers)?”

“Were the dogs fed?

Was that my multi-vitamin I just took or the dog’s heartworm medication?

Did I miss my nephew’s birthday? Again?

“Why does everyone look at me when we run out of Nutella?”

Why is there a fork in my purse?

Will anyone really notice if I put plastic flowers in my garden this year?

How long have those clothes been sitting in the washing machine?

“Where the hell is my other shoe?”

Is there any gas in the car?

“What do you mean there’s no ink in the printer and your assignment is due today?”

Did I leave the dogs out back? Again?

Jeez, did anyone on that school bus just see me trip over the garden hose as I made my way to my car?

Did I remember to charge my cell phone?

Throwing my hand to the air and asking my family to remind me when I get home is no use whatsoever.  They all just look at me later and still say, “We talked about this yesterday” though I have my suspicions that we ever did.

Martha Stewart recommends this handy checklist of The 6 Things You Should Do Everyday suggesting that “With just a few minutes’ work, you’ll easily be able to keep chaos at bay.”  Her magic list includes making the bed, managing clutter, sorting the mail, cleaning as you cook, wiping up spills while they’re fresh and sweeping the kitchen floor.

Really, she’s a Saviour, isn’t she?  I simply cannot imagine a household that would permit a reckless procrastination of mail-sorting.  Think of the peace and harmony that would be vanquished.  Chaos, indeed.  Martha’s list does hold a powerful message for me however.  If I had only 6 things on my list of Things to Remember, no one would ever question my cognitive functions.

… And I would NEVER have to go to work in mismatched shoes again.

Do you have a Martha’s list that maintains your sanity?  Please share it with me!

32 Responses to "Honey I Shrunk My Short-Term Memory!"

  • I’ve decided…right here and now…the only thing I need to have on my list to stay sane is to open the blogpost reminders that you’ve written something, and read it (twice!) You are such a breath of fresh air…probably because you force me to laugh out loud, and it is then I realize I have not adequately been breathing most of the day. Thanks for this! MMF

  • Followed you from She Writes and am so glad I did! This was really funny and I enjoyed reading it!

  • So that’s all I have to do? Sweep the floor? And my world will make more sense? : D
    I wish.
    My memory is toast. Sca -ree! I have real difficulty with name retrieval. And remembering little, basic everyday things…. Just like you. (Eek!)

  • I could probably remember more if I didn’t have to remember everyone else to-do list. Did you feed the hamster? Did you put your clothes down the chute? Did you finish your essay? Did you make your Aunt a birthday card? Did you get your father a Father’s Day present? Did you take shower? Did you wash your hair when you took a shower? Did you get a present for the birthday party you’re going to Saturday? And so on…

    • Oh, Lynne, you just reminded me about the her hamster, his essay, their birthday gift(s) for Saturday and his Father’s Day! Now I’m really stressed 😉

  • I have a list. Now, if I could remember where I put it…

  • You’re not going to like this but… it gets worse. I’ve got a couple of decades on you and suffer from CRSS (can’t remember shit syndrome). But I’ve come to realize it’s just I’ve accumulated so much stuff in my brain that it takes a while for whatever I’m looking for to download. I tell people I know it’s there. I’m just buffering. 😉

  • My memory took a hike ages ago and Forgetfulness moved in. Just the other day, I was rummaging through my closed and found an envelope with 2 restaurant gift cards (value: $100). I wondered where they came from and assumed I picked them up for “free” at one of the functions I oft go to. Then, with the help of a friend, it came to me: I purchased them last December to give as gifts and never did. Yikes. And to think I almost threw the envelope away without opening it. Luckily, I did!

  • I love Martha but I’m the type of person who makes a list and forgets to look at it.

  • I love Martha Stewart, however, I’m the type of person who makes the list and forgets to look at it. I would need it pinned to me.

  • I’m going to be honest Astra, I don’t know how you do it and I’ve never known how women can have a family and work full time, it’s just one of those things I don’t get. You just confirmed this by the crazy making list of questions you had to ask before you even left the house in the morning! Either you have an awesome husband or it’s amazing you’re not even more forgetful than you are, and would you want this crazy routine for your daughter?

  • Astra – you have to let go. It’s easy, truly. I don’t forget anything because I don’t make a list. I start each day afresh. If i happen on the washing machine and their are clothes in there and I have no idea how they got there, I wash them again, and again. 🙂 A mom’s job is really like that of an Air Traffic Controller, and we’re always dodging a plane crash at any moment in the day. When I started writing I decided some aspects in life had to give, so I start over everyday. Before I get out bed I craft a list of things I will try to get to during the day (short list) anything else I get done is gravy. I promise if you forget to take something out of the freezer, the world will continue to turn. Feed them cake!

    On another note, you had me laughing two lines in. Fantastic Friday afternoon read. I was only sad I didn’t have a glass of wine in my hand.

    • I’m not sure if I like the comparison to an air traffic controller but I get your point! Somedays I need to get it all out just to put it all back into perspective. Cake, it is 🙂

  • Great piece Astra !

    Funny though, I think it’s something that hits the “mom” in the household and very few other inhabitants ( yup– that’ll be my gender slur 🙂 ).

    I mean, can you imagine simply waking up in the morning, reading the paper with your coffee and breakfast and then wishing everyone a good day before heading off to work with nary a thought about homework assignments due/dogs fed& peed/permission forms signed/post school activities/adequate food for dinner prep that eve etc etc ?

    ** heavy deep envious sigh **

    Ps: your litany of mental questions had me snarffling; amazing how many of them I have rattled off in my head too …..and thus begins the ‘little convo’ in my head ! 🙂

    • I hear ya! There are many a-days that “work” doesn’t even get a spot on my list until I’m physically in the car and on my way there. But I promise I won’t forget your birthday 😉

  • Another home run, Astra! I’d like to tell you it gets better but… what was I saying?

  • my doctor told me that i shouldn’t worryabout forgetting where my car keys were, she said i should start to worry only when i forgot i had a car. i have also been known to ask my kids “which one are you?”
    found you and your blog through She Writes. i would love you to check out my blog
    http://www.blackinkpaperie.blogspot.com
    thanks new follower bev

  • First of all, Martha Stewart is nuts. She went to prison after trying to salvage a $250,000 investment and lost her good name – and almost all her empire – over it.

    Sounds like you have a case of “brain frites” – fried brain. Read on.

    So, secondly, welcome to the club. It’s called hormone hell. Or, as I like to call them, horrormones. Something happens around forty. Either you have no hormones or too many and the brain pitches and yaws and there’s nothing you can do about it. With three kids and a husband, you are command central. They look at you like you’re a walking refrigerator door; you know, the one with notes tacked all over it. You’re supposed to know it all. How can you?

    So, your husband’s car keys fell into his shoe when he changed clothes. How are you supposed to know this? But you’re supposed to divine this, since you are the Oracle at Delphi. Same with the level of gas in the tank. You’re supposed to visualize it. No problem.

    Gotta agree with Brenda’s comment – if there are clothes in the machine, washed on some day you don’t recall, rewash. Done it lotsa times.

    I always lose my car. I push the cart around the Walmart parking lot looking dazed and confused. I never don’t do that.

    I don’t forget to feed the cats because they stare holes through me if I do.

    I do walk into rooms and wonder “now, what was it I came in here for” frequently. Frequently daily. I will in a few minutes.

    And will you look at that Martha list? On letterhead. Tidy bulleted list. NObody’s to-do list looks like that.

    Great post, the usual hoot. And I’ve taken cat medicine before and lived to tell about it 8).

    • I know Eloise, I should stop paying attention to Martha, but she makes everything look so good and so easy! I’m well aware that she has a small army on staff to make everyone believe so. i’m sure her Monday morning armegeddon is no different than mine! I laughed at your description of command central! Thank you for your usual insight! Could be much worse so am glad to be part of Jayne’s CRSS club!!

  • Astra, my doctor suggested I do Sudoku as well, and I gave it a whirl. I did. And when I didn’t understand how to do the damn thing and started getting frustrated, antsy, and irritated, I stopped. Because life is too short to add more angst to one’s daily list of emotional states. I think Martha needs to keep her day job. The last time I sorted mail, Bush was in office. And I was still forgetting if I turned off the stove, or the iron, or the ceiling fan. I’m willing to pay good money to anyone who can come up with a list that keeps us mentally engaged so we don’t think we’re one step closer to Alzheimer’s every day. But I don’t mean a Martha list. I mean, something that actually helps me remember all the crap I have to do without having to carry around a small notebook, jotting down passwords, location of items, and phone numbers. Good money! Keep me posted if there’s any takers! ha! 🙂

  • I usually have so much on the brain and try to multi-task, I think I may actually be the cause of my fog sometimes. Meh!

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About Astra
Ottawa mom of 3 poking fun at myself, motherhood, and minor hockey! I am steering through life dodging stinky hockey gear and empty wine bottles.
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