I have a friend who left her new born home alone. No lie. She was behind me in the line up at Wal-Mart when she made this startling confession. This friend, who has two older children as well, had been in a panic to get out the door. With one child in school and another at grandmas she was rushing around trying to get organized before she left for the day. Baby was supposed to accompany her on errands that day but never quite made it. My friend remembered her purse, her list and her head. She just forgot the baby.
Well, she more than forgot him tragic truth be told. The baby didn’t merely slip her mind for one fleeting instant. She scarcely remembered she had one at all, not until she ran into someone who inquired about the new baby that is. By then she was a few stops into her errands and in a wild panic. I can’t remember who she said she called to go get the forgotten baby, but it was someone who didn’t judge her too badly-most likely another mother. Baby was sleeping soundly when found and was none the worse for being left alone.
She isn’t the only person I know who did something like this. Another couple were sitting around on a Friday night and got it into their heads to go out for a movie. Only problem was they had a baby girl they had brought home from the hospital a few evenings before. Baby had gone to bed easily and early for once and they had the evening to themselves. This couple got ready, climbed into their car and were out of the drive before remembering they had a baby at home asleep.
Now that I have a new baby myself I’ve become quite concerned I might actually slip up and forget her. On crazy days I write “baby” on my calendar-and often my hand-just in case. Silly? Maybe, but there’s a name for such parental lapses- Momnesia. Momnesia- when you are standing in the shower and have absolutely no idea how long you've been in there and what you've washed. Momnesia-when you finally finish that morning shower and accidentally put your pajamas back on.
Dr. Louann Brizendine, author of the book “The Female Brain,” says the condition is brought on by the wildly fluctuating flood of hormones that accompanies pregnancy, childbirth and breast-feeding.
All that stuff alters brain chemistry, she writes, modifying the way the brain works.
Makes sense. I’ve missed so many formerly familiar turn offs that going anywhere can now take me twice as long. I’ve gotten my son up for school on a Sunday- twice. I forgot to pick my husband up at the airport the last time he flew in on a turn around-and that’s why I was in St. John’s in the first place. Just this morning I tossed a load of clothes from the dryer back into the washing machine. Momnesia at its finest.
Since giving birth this time around-and quite possibly during pregnancy, only I can’t seem to remember back that far-I’ve generally been a mindless wreck. A case of authentic Momnesia or is it more than that? Ever hear the phrase; having children makes you stupid? If not then you either don’t have children or you have them and are too stupid to remember that you heard that saying before. Sometimes I think stupid describes my actions (or lack thereof) better than the more water down label of Momnesia.
Or maybe stund is more appropriate. Yes, stund. Like the stundness I felt sitting down to write this column.
It’s been a little over three months since I wrote my last column for The Independent (may she rest in piece) and I swear on all that is holy that I didn’t have a clue how to go about beginning. It isn’t just the time lag, trust me. It goes well beyond that.
I looked up some research on the brain and memory for this column. Besides the stuff on Momnesia I found something else of interest. Researchers at the University of Lausanne discovered a downside to being smart-thus, by default, an advantage to being dumb.
Flies were divided into two groups. Half were left in a natural state while the other half had their intelligence boosted using Pavlovian-like methods.
Over a few generations they found these flies actually began to learn things and seemed to remember things longer. Imagine? Smarter flies. But there was a downside; these smart flies died off quicker than their simple-brained relates with the stund outliving the brainy by some 30 days-quite significant, if your a fly.
To put it simply, (for Momnesia/stund moms like me) stupid flies live longer.
Somehow I feel a little better. Though I hardly remember why I felt bad in the first place. Now, where did I put that baby?