It’s happening again. You make a plan with your family to go on a traditional or seasonal outing to foster closeness and bonding. So many memories to make, so many pictures to post on your Instagram. You love this outing, and you feel #blessed to be taking your family along for the ride again. Or you want to have another go at that activity you inexplicably quit last year. You only have fond memories and are at a loss about its sudden end. It was working out so well — or so you thought.
That’s how it always starts out. But once the activity or trip commences, flashbacks from previous attempts pop into your mind. You remembered the delicious burrito place you all stopped at for lunch on the way to the beach. You forgot the very long stretch of rural roads with no bathrooms. How suddenly all those beans were ready to make a final and immediate journey out of your digestive system.
You remembered all the sweet pictures your kids drew when you tried putting them on a screen time diet. You forgot that they drew them all in 20 minutes flat before going through television withdrawal all over your house (i.e., all your furniture is now anchored to the walls; no one has access to scissors without making it through a three-password security system and beating that giant chess game come-to-life from Harry Potter).
You remembered the great food and fun costumes from your local Renaissance Festival. You forgot about your toddler throwing an epic tantrum worthy of King Joffrey after all that walking and sugar and jousting. Who gives a shit about a melee? Not a 3-year-old, m’lady.
How could you forget all this? How could you not remember how stressful these adventures typically turn out? Why does strawberry picking always seem like such a rustic and cute little adventure for you and the kids, no matter how many years in a row it has ended in them shoving too many strawberries in their mouths and then puking bright red all over your linen shorts? Do not be alarmed. Your brain isn’t deteriorating.
No, dear. You’re just suffering from a classic case of Momnesia.
Momnesia is what happens when our brain — packed full with schedules and shopping lists and appointments and reminders and meal plans and names of teachers and parents and kids — is too full to hold what it may deem as unessential information.
You remember that you have taken your kids to see Santa. You forget that your youngest couldn’t sleep until Easter because she freaked out every night that the creepy bearded man was going to sneak into her house.
You remember the family going to the annual carnival. You forget that the admission is more than you would pay for a full-body wax and that the carnival itself has only a handful of rusty rides that get so hot under the blazing sun that your kids burned their thighs and cried the whole way home.
For some reason, our brains deem the empty memory of the fact that the event occurred as essential. The part where we are driving home white-knuckled and shouting “Never again!”?
With all we have to remember and deal with and plan and figure out on a day-to-day basis, it makes sense that some of that info might trickle out our ear from time to time. That’s a nice visual, I know, but at least things like your firstborn’s birthday aren’t leaking out (no promises on the other kids).
So next time you’re raking yourself over the coals about why, why, why you thought a trip to a museum with your entire family would be quaint after that time your son climbed into a roped-off display of ancient artifacts, remember: We all forget.
We forget, because if we remembered, we would never leave the house again.