God help the people living in my house if I am not around or if something happens to my memory. Perhaps I am thinking too highly of myself, but my role in this house feels as important as the role of those classified case files used to solve really important crimes or uncover the most heinous scandals. Okay, fine, the nature of the mystery or scandal isn’t that serious. But when an irate 8-year-old can’t find her “missing” Shopkins and blames her sister for taking it and you tell her it’s under the pile of stickers, behind the bowl of slime, next to the box of tissues on the kitchen counter, you are kind of a big deal. The pile of stickers is from the library, and it creates a chain reaction of thoughts and things to remember.
Shit, I have a book that is due and the library cards need to be renewed. And I should run to the store while I am out because we are low on bread and milk. I should check to see if we need apples. Sigh. I am tired of remembering all the things.
Actually, what I am really tired from is being the only one who seems to be doing the remembering. I remember to remind people to remember to do stuff while remembering where they left their shit to do the stuff they need to do.
When performing tasks, I am often on autopilot, but, mentally, I am shuffling through calendars, social events, grocery lists, to-do lists and verbal requests my three children are constantly putting into the universe. Sometimes my kids address me, but I think they just say stuff in my vicinity, knowing they will create an earworm that will convert their internal hopes and dreams into passive aggressive requests that must be heard and addressed even if I don’t acknowledge said request. Examples of this include juice boxes in their lunch, screen time, the ability to choose first from the new pack of toothbrushes or goggles, because according to each of them they never get to pick first.
I can almost always remember who was first to choose said item of obsession, but my knowledge creates tears because someone is always slighted. They get over it and then it’s me who feels slighted. It’s exhausting to listen to 6-year-old twins bickering about a stupid toothbrush. But it’s not just the toothbrush, it’s just one more layer added to being the one who thinks ahead for haircuts and birthday gifts—for both my kids and for the kids of birthday parties they are invited to. It’s remembering when it’s game day and making sure the uniforms are clean. It’s remembering that one of the kids will no longer eat what used to be a favorite snack so I have to be creative when packing lunches or dinners for evening ball games.
I’m the one who remembers that the kids have gym class at school, but one kid decided to wear cowboy boots, so I need to be sure to remind her to pack her sneakers. Then I have to remember to check to see if she packed her sneakers because otherwise I will be making a trip back to the school to deliver proper footwear. I should probably allow for more natural consequences, but right now certain things like forgetting their shoes makes more work for me. I have allowed them to forget to bring in homework or library books, but money for field trips or a shirt for a class project require planning and staying organized and sending them to school with everything they need. My kids are still little and I do a lot of planning and thinking for them so that life isn’t a total shitshow.
Part of this mental energy is spent naturally. I am an over-thinker and over-planner. It’s my personality to see the details and to plan for them. My brain plays out all scenarios all of the time, so I can’t help myself when it comes to being prepared. I am hyperaware of my surroundings and can almost predict the way a situation will go. This means I am always a few steps ahead of most people when it comes to knowing what needs to be done and when.
This also includes knowing where all the things are in my house. There is always at least one thing I am supposed to find because “Mama will know where that is.” I should really practice what I preach and not find the things my kids keep losing, the things I tell them I am not responsible for, but I can’t help myself. I am the finder in our house.
I take a bit of pride in knowing where everything is in my house, including Shopkins. I’m a sucker who likes a scavenger hunt, because if I can’t remember the last place I saw my kid’s lovie—the one he needs before bed—I am usually able to backtrack through the day and know where to look. Kitchen counter, couch, bin of super heroes, in a toy pot in the play kitchen because he was pretending to be a store manager/chef and those 30 minutes of non-competitive and joyful play time with his siblings were glorious.
At the end of the day, I like the feeling of being needed. But I would be fine if the people in my house carried some of the emotional labor of never forgetting. It’s not my responsibility to know where your shit is, but I probably do and I know your schedule well enough to know when you will need it too.