MEMORY OVERLOAD

A while ago, I got an email inviting me to a talk after school. It was a subject that I was interested in but it was on a Tuesday night. Tuesdays are hectic in my house. Seven children’s activities plus husband’s guitar and my tutorials to factor in. I put the meeting into the “Too difficult” box and closed the lid on it.

Last week I got a reminder but things had, as they are wont to do, moved on. Now all four children would be at a rehearsal at the same place at the same time and so, delighted that something had worked in my favour, I skipped off up to school. It was ominously dark when I got there. I hung around in my car for a few minutes and then decided that all was not right. So I drove home, checked the email and, lo and behold. Next Tuesday.

I’d like to say that this was a one off. This morning my car needed taking to the garage for its MOT. I knew that. We discussed it breakfast. The arrangements were all in hand. So why, when my husband texted me at 9.30 was the car still sitting in the drive?

I know what it looks like. Mid forties, memory starting to slide. But in my own defence I really don’t think that it is. It has far more to do with the vast amount of information that I have to carry around with me.

It’s the same for all busy mums. We run not just our own complicated existence but those of our children and, in some cases, our husband’s too. Four busy kids is no mean feat. When you add in my housewifely duties and the bits and pieces that I do for myself, it’s hardly surprising that sometimes things slip off the end.

I remember whist revising for my ‘A’ levels how frustrating I found it that I could instantly recite the lyric of virtually every song I had ever heard but struggled to recall quotations from my set texts. That could hardly be put down to my age.

I don’t forget everything. The week in week out stuff is fairly safe. But the elder two will sidle into the kitchen and mention half arranged plans for parties and sleepovers and I half listen because I’m cooking and I know that most of these things never come off anyway. And then suddenly it’s the party and the arrangements fall down because there is no one free to taxi them. “But I told you!” they cry indignantly. And they did but somehow the full implications of  what they have said haven’t registered and I have temporarily overlooked that I cannot be in two places or once.

Alternatively I slip into default setting. “Can I…?” “No.” No doesn’t necessarily mean that the activity is unachievable. It generally means “I cannot take any more information in, process it and reach an appropriate decision at the moment.” And then later, when I have thought about the ramifications of the plan, I may change my mind and say yes. But that is rubbish! ‘Mum always says no but then she changes her mind so we’ll just nag until she does.’ That’s not it at all. It just takes Mum time to think the new plan through and match it up with all the existing plans. Perhaps I should alter the default setting to ‘Maybe’?

It does worry me. Turning up to a meeting a week early is irritating but not important. The car is in the garage now. No problem. But what if the thing to slip off the pile is more important. A court deadline for work? Something that means a lot to one of the children but which gets accidentally overlooked? Some things are not quite so easily fixed.

There’s nothing that I can do about the busyness. Our house is hectic. That is just a fact of life. But somehow I have to devise a better system to catch the things that are out of the ordinary, that sneak under the radar because they are one off events. A bigger diary? A bigger wall chart? A bigger memory!

What do you think? I'd love to know...