Momnesia. Defined by the elusive maternal dictionary as “the state of mind where you are so overwhelmed with things to do, noise, and the needs of kids that you cannot remember one thing from one moment to the next.” The secondary definition of momnesia is “being a mom so long that you forget who you are and the reasons you exist beyond kissing foreheads, enforcing rules, and cleaning.”
Often, moms suffering from momnesia walk out of one room to fetch something and quickly forget — five seconds later — what they were supposed to be getting. Or they leave curling irons plugged in or remember last minute that a play date or soccer practice is scheduled and then become flaming basket cases of confusion and chaos. Momnesia moms also refer to themselves as Mama, Mom, Mother, Mommy, etc. and forget that they have a birth name like Jenny, Stef, Sally, or Denise.
It's funny that as mothers we spend so much time remembering to do “stuff” that we not only forget who we are, but we become lost in the thousands of random thoughts that pass through the space that once was our brain, leaving us to feel many things. But mostly exhausted. And lost.
There's a huge (like massive — perhaps the size of the Milky Way) difference between self-ish and self-less. Momnesia makes us forget that too.
It strikes me as odd that when a woman becomes a mother, she suddenly sees herself as “second” to all things. Don't get me wrong, our children should be our priorities, and we DO have to make good on our responsibilities in life, but we also have to remember WHO WE ARE and WHAT WE WANT. Not doing so sends this big, loud message to the world that we don't matter. Eventually, it becomes easy to feel that way, too, — that YOU just don’t matter. Mama matters, but Stef doesn't.
There’s a huge (like massive — perhaps the size of the Milky Way) difference between self-ish and self-less. Momnesia makes us forget that, too. We get so caught up in being there for everyone and being everything for everyone else that we forget how to do the same for ourselves.
Take it from me — a mother 15 years into momnesia: you don't want to forget who you are. You also don't want your mind to be such a cluttered mess of thoughts and musings and lists and useless things that you can barely remember which foot to put in front of the other when you walk. You will end up defining yourself by your children (which is unhealthy for you and for them), and you will eventually feel useless, worthless, and unfulfilled. And possibly resentful, too.
There is no one answer for counteracting or avoiding momnesia altogether. It always starts as the best of maternal intentions.
However, it is important to pay attention. Are you becoming more and more forgetful? Do you find it hard to just relax? Are you always putting the needs of your kids and family in front of your own? Has it been a long time since you have laughed, spent some time alone, or indulged in anything that YOU are passionate about? (And dragging whiny kids to an art gallery because YOU love art DOES NOT COUNT!) Do you feel bored even though you are crazy busy? Every time you hear the word “Mom” or “Mama” do you turn around and look (even when it is NOT your child)? And most importantly, has it been a very long time since you have been alone for any length of time?
Don't be me. Don't wake up one day and try to remember who you are, and don't become so overwhelmed with the day-to-day routine of raising kids that you can hardly think or remember anything. It takes much less time to not do in the first place than it does to undo in the long run.