Column: If I could just remember where I put my memory, I’d reinstall it

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 1, 2006

Watching a rerun of &8220;Without a Trace&8221; the other night, I realized how I might have been in a similar situation because of a faulty memory.

On the TV show, FBI agent Jack Malone was being deposed by his estranged wife’s attorney. At one point the main character was being questioned about the day he was an hour late picking up his two daughters from school.

Malone recalled he was in an interview on the day in question and couldn’t get away. The attorney, looking for any angle to prevent Malone from getting custody of the children, made it clear forgetting one’s children was a horrible offense.

I squirmed in my seat because I have forgotten both my children at school at one time or another. My kids like to tease me about how traumatized they were and the problem it has caused for them as young adults.

I can’t remember where or when I lost my memory, but I know I’ve been without it for quite a number of years.

My friend swears she lost hers when she turned 40. Though I can’t really remember how long my memory has been lost, I know it’s been more than a couple years.

I think it started when my first child started school. All of a sudden, I was responsible for another person’s schedule. Two years later, my youngest started school and I really think my memory became a memory at that point.

A friend stopped by the office the other day to drop off

an order. In a previous conversation with her I had mentioned a book I thought she might enjoy reading, but I’d told her I’d have to get back to her on the title because I couldn’t remember it or the author’s name.

Well several weeks passed and I made numerous futile attempts to find the book on Internet

Web sites. While telling my husband about the book, he took on my mission and within a few minutes found the book on some Web site. I couldn’t believe it.

So when the friend stopped in last week, I told her my story and that I would drop the book off for her, if I could just remember where I put it.

I’m telling you, this loss of memory thing is going to get the best of me.

My husband likes to tease me that it has something to do with the female brain being smaller, thus unable to retain as much. As he says this, he usually has his running shoes on and is half-way out the door.

I prefer another friend’s explanation for my memory loss: As women, we simply have too many hats to wear, it stands to reason they can’t all be jammed on our heads at the same time. We

can’t remember everything our husbands ask of us, plus the kids’ schedules, career tasks, the

family social calendar, the grocery list, the dry cleaning and community service appointments without losing something from our memories.

It’s really amazing what our brains can retain, but at some point it will rebel. My brain seems on permanent rebellion.

A few weeks back, I couldn’t find my credit card and didn’t want to admit to my husband that I had lost it. After several days of trying to retrace my steps, unsuccessfully, I might add, I finally broke down and told him I couldn’t remember where I had used it, when I had last used it or how long it had been lost. He didn’t say much &045; he’s used to my memory by now &045; he just canceled the card.

Back to the kids’ traumatizing … I would leave work most days in time to pick them up from school so I could have first contact with them after their eventful day. It allowed me to go over their plans for the rest of the afternoon, talk about what happened during their day and ensure they got started on homework. I enjoyed the 15-minutes with them and it helped us stay connected, even when they became teens.

But occasionally, something would come up at work that would consume all my brain cells and I would forget about picking them up. Overriding guilt as only a mom can experience hit when I eventually remembered them and I’d dash out the door, speed to the school to find them sitting on the step waiting.

Sometimes they’d be talking to a friend and barely acknowledge my tardiness. Other times, they’d be furious. And they never understood how I could forget about them.

Overcoming my fear of having the children taken away, I began sharing my story with other moms and soon learned I was not the only one to forget them at the school. Other moms, like moles venturing into the sunshine, also admitted to forgetting their kids at one location or another.

Personally, I think rather than feel so guilty about forgetting their kids or anything else for that matter, moms should accept it as character-building for the kids, as long as it doesn’t happen very often.