I’m standing at the kitchen sink finishing up the dishes from this morning’s breakfast and packing lunches for the kids, when I have this nagging feeling I’m forgetting something.

It happens often. Some say it’s that mom brain – in a constant fog, just trying to keep those neurons shooting in the right direction.

Others call it over-load. Just too many things fill our days, and we’re all over-stimulated on caffeine and scheduling. There’s that. Women are so well versed in juggling an average of 17 things at a time, but we might drop a few along the way…

So round and round my thoughts go. What am I forgetting?

It’s like an itch I can’t scratch.

I turn to muddle through my scribbles on various stray papers piled on my kitchen counter. I haphazardly write these random notes that I plan to someday organize into a nice neat little cloth-covered DIY journal, or in some app on my phone, like all the good moms do.

But much like all my passwords, the notes and to-do lists wander aimlessly, confused and lost, screaming for an orderly home. They drift across grocery receipts, post-its, and scratch paper, all layered on top of one another. I’m so proud of myself for managing to gather them in one place. That’s my order.

I scavenge through one after another, unwrapping them like little fortune cookie prophesies. Dentist appointments are next Wednesday, email to guidance counselor needs to get done, swim meets have been scheduled through spring season, and the carpool to the girl’s movie night has been coordinated.

I find an old grocery list, abandoned and unchecked, but I did buy that chicken on sale today, so there’s that. I smile with a nonchalant nod, like I’m the boss of this house.

I walk over to the family calendar on the fridge and scan the week’s events and activities, searching for what it is I’m forgetting to do.

Nothing. I see nothing I’m forgetting.

But that itch.

I’ve had many forgetful moments in my life as a mom. Most of them caught me off guard. I think that’s why I often have this torturous attack. Perhaps it’s a bit of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, because I can’t predict my “Oh CRAP!” moments. (That’s what makes them “Oh CRAP!” moments.)

I wouldn’t care too much if it was only about me, but often it’s about my kid, or someone else’s.

There’s that infamous night I got in my car after “Curriculum Night” at school, all dewy-eyed after talking to teachers about how awesome my kid really is. I enjoyed seeing some old friends at the school and loved catching up with them, too. I turned the ignition and sighed with a smile at how well the night went. “Just lovely,” I whispered to myself, after shifting into reverse to back out of my parking space.

One second after that angelic moment, I realized I left my kid in the school. The one I went to this event for. The one I took to this event. My child. The child I’d been talking about the entire night.

“Oh CRAP!”

I immediately slammed on the breaks, shifted gears, and frantically yanked the keys out of the ignition, flying out of the car back toward the school. I found my son wandering the halls looking for me with a bit of confusion and panic on his face. I’ve performed in several plays and musicals in my lifetime, but my greatest theatrical scenes have played out with my children.

“There you are, honey! I’ve been looking for you! Where have you been hiding?” 

Not cool, me. Not cool.

Then there’s that time I was driving down the interstate going 70 and realized I hadn’t buckled my baby girl into her car seat before I drove off.

“Oh CRAP!”

Panic ensued, as I desperately tried to find an opening in the heavy traffic to pull over. No such luck. I prayed harder that day than I think I ever have, until I was able to get safely to an exit ramp, pull over, and buckle her in.

Sometimes, I’m delighted to figure it out via text. There have been times when a friend will text a little reminder like, “Thanks SO much for picking Tommy up from school for me today!” I immediately speed out the driveway and around the block toward the school to get Tommy. As he gets in the car, I text back, “NO problem at all!”

Other times, I get the dreaded “Did you remember?” text. These literally take years off my life. The second you read them, your body begins to convulse with shock and alarm. One of my famous failures occurred when a mom texted wondering where her kid might be 30 minutes after school was out.

She’d asked if I could cover for her a week ago, and I wasn’t near a receipt or post-it or scratch paper to write it down. This is never a good thing.

When I read her text, my own kids had already had their snacks and were busy with their homework at the table. Yeah. No saving that one. I bolted to the school while leaving her a message, crying in shame and regret and begging her forgiveness. I ran into the school office to pick up the poor kid, but he wasn’t there. His mom had already beat me to it by the time I got there.

Shame.

I think through the past few days and what I have done. Maybe that will trigger a new revelation? Nothing. Nada. The blank is drawn with an elusive, fine-point pen.

It’ll come. It always does. Maybe too late.

I’ll have my phone nearby, awaiting the answer.