Who knew you needed a memory to potty train a child?

When I say I have a bad memory, most people nod knowingly and tell me how it will only get worse.  While I have no doubt of this, it’s not like my memory was EVER any good, and I don’t think they really get the extent of my fog.  Several people have even told me that I’m lucky, that it’s a good thing.  I understand what they mean: forgetting pain, physical, mental and emotional makes it easier to cope.  But the daily practical consequences of a crappy memory are really not so great, sometimes downright horrifying.

I know I appear to be a functioning human being on the surface.  But behind the scenes…


My memory does work, but not in consistent reliable ways. Memory consists of 2 types:  recognition and recall.  Generally my recognition is decent, and my recall sucks.  But my recognition is getting faulty too, especially when my mom is telling stories of my past, and Mr.Tot claims he told me something.  Personally, I think  she’s making things up and he knows he can get away with anything, because how I can I positively say I remember?

I do still remember that I wrote my college entrance essay on the book, Silent Green by Rachel Carson more than 25 years ago, but no I don’t remember what I wrote or much about the book itself.   And I think the only reason I managed to remember the title and author is that it was the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question and came up in other ways through the years.  Generally titles don’t stick in my memory — I seem to have Title blindness – I think I skip over reading them.  Even the title of the book I just finished reading for book club evades me, and it’s still sitting on my nightstand.  Though I could at least tell you the storyline.

I also still remember my phone number growing up, but that is because my parents had it for more than 40 years, and only gave it up a few years ago.  On the other hand, I have momentarily been befuddled by simple every day items, and I do not remember most of the information I learned during my entire 17 year career at NASA.  I think maybe the Men in Black zapped me when I left with their “Neuralyzers”  (No, I didn’t remember – I had to look it up).  Either that, or all that knowledge disappeared along with the breast milk nursing Tot what seems like centuries ago.

Nor can I remember, when I tell Tot 5 minutes before the end of a meal that she will need to use the potty when dinner is over, to actually follow through and make her go, leading to an accident half an hour later in a spot not so easy to clean.  I’m not sure our daughter will ever be potty trained, because I don’t have the memory to follow through with the process.   And she seems to have issues.  With me.  Because at preschool, she seems completely able to handle the whole situation.   I need a timer, a potty timer.  Cause Tot’s timer is on the fritz.


Then too, there is the issue of medication.  Remembering to give Tot meds for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever THREE times a day???!!!!   And the consequences if we didn’t???  Oh man, it’s a miracle she’s still alive.   I take my meds when I brush my teeth at bedtime, so it’s generally easy, unless my routine gets messed up.  The part that’s hard is remembering to get my prescriptions refilled.  I often manage to remember the first half of the process – ordering them online when I run out.  But picking them up.  No.  Not so easy.  I have missed Thyroid & migraine meds for 3 days because I have forgotten 3 days in a row to pick them up.  And you think this would lead me to mail order, but so far, no.  In some way, maybe I think that if I let this little thing go, the whole list of things I have to remember on a daily basis will come flooding down on me and sweep me away.

Yes, we use a bill pay service, because yes, I have forgotten to pay bills.   And forgetting isn’t cheap!  Nor is it so good for your credit rating.  I have also taken to using Apple’s calendar software - iCal.  You can use it to send yourself e-mail reminders, as many as you want.  So for some events, I remind myself a month ahead, a week ahead, a day ahead and hours ahead.  Hey, I’m just not reliable.   Even with this, I have still had to cancel appointments because I double booked or reschedule because I forgot.  Then there’s the issue of forgetting what day it is….

In college, I considered studying to be a doctor, but knew that be be unwise.  Organic chem alone requires extensive memorization, not to mention anatomy and physiology, and and and…  At least with engineering, I could remember concepts and the rest I could look up when needed.   At no point in my career did I have to rely on my memory for a life threatening situation.  Most of the time, I had the leeway to say, I’ll have to get back to you on that.  And it’s a good thing.

I’ve had to rewash umpteen loads of laundry because they sat in the washer wet until they mildewed.  At least with food in the refrigerator, I’m looking at it every day.  Out of sight, out of mind is not so much my motto, as my memory’s guiding principle.  There are so many more examples of things I’ve forgotten, but….  of course, I’ve forgotten them.  They flit in and out of my mind like pretty little uncatchable butterflies.  If I don’t write them down, it’s POOF gone!   I ALWAYS feel like I’ve forgotten something, often something important, something urgent, and it often leads to anxiety.  Especially when it comes to the mail.  Did we get that bill, or document, or check, etc, and if so, WHERE did I put it?  Occasionally I have a moment of clarity, although more accurately partial clarity, because in remembering one thing, other things are being forgotten.  My memory forecast varies from partially cloudy to completely befuddled.


Conversations are often a challenge too.  I have a point I want to make and once I get sidetracked, I forget what I meant to say.  Maybe my brain has horder syndrome, and there’s so much crap stuffed in there without rhyme or reason that finding anything is next to impossible.  Writing helps because once it’s written down, I no longer have to hold onto that piece of information.  I can search for the next piece.   I came across an article about how to improve your memory by cross training.  I set it aside to read it, but haven’t gotten back to it.  Maybe it’s time.  Now, where did I put that?

Unfortunately, my dear Mr.Tot is not a whole lot better.  He has his iCal displayed on a huge screen in his office so it is always front and foremost and VISIBLE.  But there are hundreds of little things that don’t warrant space on the calendar that need to be done.  So many things.

At least we have the internet to look things up — a godsend to those of us memory-impaired.  Hmmm, wonder if I qualify for disability?

We’re going to install a bus stop sign and bench in front of our house, for when our Half-heimers matures into ALL-heimers.  Years from now, but not so very many, you’ll know when you’re at our house when you see us tottering around our fake bus stop and our pretty blond teenage daughter still wearing diapers leads us back inside…  (After all, she’s 3 going on 13 already)



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