Lately I’ve been losing my mind. It’s been a gradual process, but one I can’t deny anymore.
Take yesterday. I was in the middle of a full-blown house-cleaning frenzy when I glanced at the clock. It said 12:30. I felt a flutter at the back of my mind, like I was forgetting something important. I scrunched up my eyebrows (because I think better that way) and looked at the clock again. 12:31. My brain fluttered again. I turned off the vacuum and stared. Then it hit me. I had forgotten to pick up our youngest son from school.
There’s nothing worse than the feeling that you have forgotten your child. My stomach did a somersault, and I felt the weight of shame settle on me. Then I exploded into action. Dropping the vacuum hose, I descended the stairs like an avalanche of flailing middle-aged arms and legs (narrowly avoiding breaking one of them) and bounded down the hallway.
It was an early release day which meant that school let out 2 hours early. And in spite of the fact that my partner and my son had reminded me just that morning, it had still slipped my mind. The bell had rung 10 minutes ago. Now, our youngest son is not exactly a small child anymore. He’s fourteen, and not likely to be permanently damaged if I was a little late, but in my panic, I pictured him standing out in front of the school all alone, forlorn and forgotten, a sad little boy whose other-mom had abandoned him.
I snatched my keys and wallet from the kitchen table and dashed for the front door, sliding the last few feet – which really shouldn’t be possible in sneakers. I looked down. I wasn’t wearing my sneakers. I was wearing socks which of course explained the whole sliding down the tiled hallway thing. I quickly took stock of myself so as to ascertain if there were other problems I might want to correct before I went out in public. I was wearing ratty jeans and a bleach-stained t-shirt with no bra. I hadn’t yet showered. It would be generous to describe my hair as “tousled.”
Scrambling back up the stairs, I tripped over the vacuum cord, located shoes and a sweatshirt, tripped over the cord again, and lunged back down the stairs, wrestled open the front door, slammed it behind me, and ran for the car.
I was 25 minutes late. My son was not outside alone shivering in the chill as I imagined. He was standing in the sun, smiling, and talking with a friend. There was still a short car line and a surprising number of children still there. He smiled and waved when he saw me. I hugged him in front of his friends. Then I stopped at a gas station on the way home and bought him a soda and beef jerky.
“You should be late more often,” he said.
No, I really shouldn’t, I thought. The school is about 6 miles from our house. There are many traffic lights and the highest speed limit is 45, but I still made it there in about 12 minutes. My reflexes are getting to slow to drive like that. (And since I know you’re reading this, Mom, that was a joke.)
My stuttering memory is no joke, though. I’ve always been a little absent-minded, but lately I’ve been a complete space cadet. My short-term memory is sputtering out like a neglected campfire. I feel like the forgetful little fish in Finding Nemo. (My favorite character until I became her.)
Lately, I have to proofread everything I write 14 times lately to avoid embarrassing myself by using the wrong words (like “half” instead of “have”). I mix up words when I’m talking, too, and often don’t realize until someone tells me. Like this typical exchange between my partner and me:
B: “We used to live in Asheville, honey, not Austin.”
me: “I know where we lived! You know I meant Austin.”
B: “You mean Asheville?”
me: “I said Asheville!” She shakes her head sadly. “I didn’t? Again? Well, I meant Asheville! WILL YOU PLEASE LISTEN TO WHAT I MEAN AND NOT WHAT I SAY!”
She’s really very patient, don’t you think?
And that’s not all. I have spent frantic minutes searching for my car keys only to discover them in my hand. My partner can text me to ask me to take some chicken out of the freezer to defrost for dinner, and if I don’t get up and do it right that minute, I will forget. I know it and she knows it. (That’s why she texts me again in five minutes. Did you take the chicken out of the freezer?) The other day, I almost ran out of gas because I forgot I was on empty. (Yes, I know the gas gauge was right in front of me. That’s kind of the point.)
As I’ve waded deeper into my forties, I’ve read more than a few articles on women’s health, and I know all the symptoms of my age. But for some reason, I never really made the obvious connection with my mushrooming absent-mindedness. I just always thought I must be stressed or distracted, and then I jumped right to early onset Alzheimer’s in my imagination.
But not to worry. It’s just menopause. Yay. I’m not losing my mind. I’m just going to feel like it for the next few years.
note: Thanks to Mittens of Mittens and Boots and her excellent blog post on early menopause for the inspiration to write this and for cluing me in to the term “brain fog” which I just realized, I didn’t actually use except in the title, sort of. You can read her post at: