Do you remember when we met?
That was the day I knew you were my pet.
- Sea of Love by John Phillip Baptiste & George Khoury, 1959
I have no idea what you're talking about
- Me, 2014.
Being a parent is inversely proportional to being able to find your stuff.
We spend so much time and brain energy coordinating our offsprings' school work, social lives, and personal hygiene it's a miracle we can find the car in the driveway, never mind the keys tucked under the garbage can in the powder room. (How did that happen? Did I have to go that badly??)
I never sweated the standard forgetful fair; glasses on my head, the television remote I had in my hand 18 seconds ago, the lost telephone receiver I put down (while in the middle of a conversation) to help my daughter zip up her jacket (yes, I left my friend stranded on the line...she called back).
However, a milestone was reached last week as my wife recounted fond moments of a family vacation I don't remember being a part of. We're talking a whole week. Coma patients have regained consciousness with less memory loss.
This forgotten vacation incident was, for me, the mental brick wall I stumbled into after a comfortable several months stretch of wandering into the bathroom only to forget why I was there (oh yeah, I do have to pee); of sitting excitedly in front of the TV forgetting which show I was excited about wathcing; and of hopping into my car to pick my kids' up at a playdate, but heading toward the office instead.
There have been articles like these about "Mommy Brain", "Pregnancy Brain" & the "Forgetful Parent".
They are very forgiving. We are mentally taxed with all matters parenthood, they say, and we therefore reallocate our available memory power towards maintaining jobs, maintaining a household and maintaining relationships with our children and/or partners.
But, forgetting a whole vacation?? I mean, if the lab in "Total Recall" (please see the original before seeing the remake) existed on the island of Montreal, I would have to go and have memories implanted from places I've already been. How sad is that?
- Where and when would you like to go, Mr. Bodanis?
- Umm. My Mom's, please. A week ago Saturday.
I've started to give fake answers to my kids:
"Dad, remember that project I told you we were starting at school? With the boats?"
"Ummm, oh yeah! With the boats!"
Please don't tell me I have no memory of enrolling my 9-year-old in a Naval Academy.
I blame a lack of exercise - I've really fallen off the wagon (again!). Exercise, proper nutrition and a proper night's sleep promote mental health (is there anything they don't help?...yes...my guilt trip. Hey! A guilt trip...that's a vacation I never seem to forget.).
In a nut shell, that realization/admission means one thing: I'm to blame for my own mental deterioration...great.
It's not the kids. It's not the marriage. It's not maintaining a home, and an income, and the crumbs of a social life. The problem is not enough exercise, and spinach, and unconscious hours on a bed.
All I have to do is remember to treat myself better.
I'm probably overdue for adopting a healthier lifestyle. After all, I owe it to myself, and to my wife, and to my kids. After all, I want to be around for them as long as possible.
...some time later...
The weirdest thing just happened. I was just standing in the vestibule wearing one sneaker and a Garmin heart monitor...where's my other sneaker?...Where am I going? Do I need to tuck a Nitro tablet under my tongue?