What’s Your Name? (Mommy Brain Strikes Again)

January 28, 2013 in Getting Older

What's Your Name?I’m not supposed to have “mommy-brain” anymore. My boys are 9, 13, and 15 — hardly babies, so I can’t really claim sleep deprivation from a newborn or total exhaustion from chasing a toddler.

I’ve never been very good with names. When I meet someone new for the first time, I can forget their name instantaneously. If I’m not too embarrassed, I’ll ask them to repeat their name a second time. Or, if I’m with someone else who knows that person, I’ll whisper to them, “what was that person’s name again?” Even so, that won’t guarantee that I’ll remember that person’s name the next time I see them.

As a stay-at-home mom, I’m meeting new mothers all the time, whether it’s through my kids or through other moms. And, I also have friends and acquaintances through my non-mommy life, which includes tennis, writing classes, and volunteer work. Sometimes I have to re-orient myself if I see someone out of context and figure out how I know him or her.

Back in November, I had an encounter with another mom that made me think my long-term memory is shot. Early dementia here I come. I was in the grocery store, doing a major shop, because we finally had our power restored after Hurricane Sandy had knocked it out for 9 long, dark days. I was joyously grabbing items that I could once again freeze and refrigerate and suddenly I hear a cheerful, “Hi Emily!”

I turned to look at this person, and I had absolutely no idea what her name was. What’s worse, she only looked vaguely familiar. I assumed she was a mom and she had a child or children in school with one of my boys. But still, I drew a complete blank.

“Oh hi!” I said with as much enthusiasm as possible, hoping she didn’t notice that I didn’t actually say her name.

We continued to have an entire conversation about the storm, our power, and the emotional toll the past week and a half had taken on all of us.

We said good-bye and resumed pushing our respective shopping carts in opposite directions.

I figured her name would come to me eventually. But, it never did.

I was thinking I had a one-time momentary brain lapse. But, then it happened again yesterday! I was at the gym sitting down at one of the arm machines, plugged into my iPod. A woman walks over to me and taps me on my knee to get my attention and said “hello.” Again, no clue who that woman was.

So that’s two people in the past few months who apparently know me, but I don’t know them – at all. How scary is that? Either Mommy-Brain is back or I better start making flashcards with people’s faces on the front and names on the back. I’ll have my kids quiz me each day and if I get any wrong, they’ll take away my ice cream, which I look forward to every night for dessert. If I have that threat hanging over me, I’ll be sure to know everyone’s names in no time.

Do you have “mommy-brain” even though you shouldn’t?

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, would you please vote for me by clicking here.? I am nominated to the Top 25 Funny Moms list in the Circle of Moms contest and even if you’ve already voted for me, you can cast a new vote each day…Thank you!

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Janine Huldie January 28, 2013 at 10:43 am

I have this all the time Emily, because I too am so not good with names. This is why I was a math teacher and so better with numbers than names. That said, I am so glad it isn’t only me. Also, I voted for you on both Top Mommy and Circle of Moms!! :)


ohboymom January 28, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Thanks and I voted back! Glad I’m not alone with this forgetfulness either!


Lee January 28, 2013 at 10:48 am

I have menopause and migraine brain. When they took my ovaries out my brain was removed with them. Then when I started to get migraines, they put me on stupidmax, which really makes me stupid. So, I can’t remember where I live half the time. I feel you, sister.


ohboymom January 28, 2013 at 1:01 pm

I know they like to call them “senior moments” after a certain age, but I’m not there yet and I can’t blame migraines so I’m really in trouble I think. I like the name for your migraine drug. :)


Amy January 28, 2013 at 11:20 am

I have this problem too. I worry that it’s my age. I blame it on Lyme disease (which can cause this). I try not to think about how flaky I’ve become too often, because I feel really bad about it! Maybe our brains are just too crowded with the many things we have to think about, the multiple responsibilities, the creativity waiting for us to pay attention and write. I guess I’m looking for an answer here too. :) Sometimes I feel like an Atari game system trying to run X-Box games!


ohboymom January 28, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I like your metaphor of Atari and Xbox — that’s so true! And maybe you are right about our brains being too crowded — nothing else can explain it because I refuse to admit it’s age.


Melanie Chisnall January 28, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Well, I don’t have mommy brain, which makes me forgetting stuff like this 10 times worse! Twice today I said something and didn’t realize I’d swapped a word. My husband pointed it out. Something silly like saying Coke Zero instead of Sprite Zero. But the scary part was, I didn’t even realize that I’d said it wrong. I hope it’s just a case of tiredness. I’m sure yours is too….and if not, you can be forgiven because really, the stuff moms need to think of today and remember is INSANE! :)


ohboymom January 28, 2013 at 1:03 pm

It’s true, based on my comments so far, I think it is a function of our brains being overcrowded with needing to remember too much. I refuse to admit I’m getting old!


Stephanie @ Mommy, for real. January 28, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Voted for you again today! I *hate* that feeling! I happen to have a pretty great memory for names, but I teach early childhood music classes, and memorize over a hundred kids’ names each session… multiply that times 6-7 sessions a year over the past 12 years, and I am constantly running into people I have had in class and I can’t remember who they are, or worse, if I had their kids last year or ten years ago! And in my opinion, you are allowed to ride the Mommy Brain Train forever…


ohboymom January 28, 2013 at 4:10 pm

I am always amazed by teachers like you who have to remember all those kiddie names, especially when there are duplicates…and yes I agree once we ride that Mommy Brain Train, we should never have to get off. (and thx for the vote — will return the favor now!)


Ethel Mitty January 28, 2013 at 4:00 pm

I think not being able to remember names is a genetic trait….
In old age, mommy brain becomes a “senior moment.”
Enjoy the interval between….
As soon as introduced to a new person, immediately say, “Tell me your name again because I am so poor with remembering and I do want to remember you.” That can help.


ohboymom January 28, 2013 at 4:12 pm

I’m not sure there is an interval for me…I seem to have traveled from mommy brain directly to “senior moments.” Lucky me and thanks for the gene.:)


Cyndi January 28, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Haha, that’s too funny. I do that. I’m a teacher and I do that. I started working part time at this school, getting to know everybody. I had to learn the names of all the staff, all the kids in four grade levels, how they do things, where everything is….I started three weeks ago. Today I was teaching a class and I drew a complete blank on several of the kids names. Oops. I still can’t remember them, either. Oh well…guess I’ll have to play the “what is your name?” game again. Haha.


ohboymom January 28, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Yeah I have no idea how teachers do it…I bet they ALL forget students’ names and just learn how to hide it until they figure it out.


Rachel Harper January 28, 2013 at 4:39 pm

I firmly believe everyone needs to wear name tags in life. I’m HORRIBLE with names, and get caught in this all the time as well.


ohboymom January 28, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Yes, that would work for me — permanent name tags!


Roshni January 28, 2013 at 4:43 pm

ALL the time!! I hate the fact that I can never remember names. I guess it is a female thing or a mom thing!


ohboymom January 28, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Or both!?


Ruchira January 28, 2013 at 5:05 pm

I hear ya, Emily.

Sundays I volunteer at a school and since I meet those kids only once a week…I am completely blank and keep calling them “my friend, could you pls repeat”

But lately Saturday evenings, I have started to envision their names when I open my roster sheet…lol

Call it age or whatever but, it sure needs work.

loved your post…related to my problem :)

voted for you on both…TPM and circle of moms…cheers!


ohboymom January 28, 2013 at 9:53 pm

Thanks for the vote and will return the favor of course! I like that tactic of calling them “my friend” — I can see how that works for young kids.


Christy Birmingham January 28, 2013 at 11:19 pm

My friend likes to say she has baby brain :) Hehe! What funny things!


Kristi January 30, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Oh no, I have the same difficulty remembering name and always feel like such an ass when people say “Hi, Kristi” and I’m like “…”
Sadly, I can’t even blame it on mommy brain because I can remember being really bad at this before I ever even gave birth. Before client meetings, I visit the company website and print a picture of the people I’ll meet with and write their names down (seems better when I have to write them down). Sigh…


kerri January 31, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Please I called Boo by the crazy puppy ‘s name this morning at her preschool in full witness of her teacher and aide. At least you were able to cover your memory lapse!

Found you via findingninee


ohboymom February 1, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Oh, I call my kids by the dog’s name ALL the time! I consider that normal. Thanks for finding me and commenting!


smith November 15, 2017 at 6:57 am

I often feel so alone in NYC with these kinds of feelings. So glad to know you — a successful blogger no less (opposite of me) — has them too. Thank you. I feel a bit less discouraged about the way our society is plummeting into crazy self-centered trophy collecting “my kid is so absolutely amazing, so much so that i’d much rather talk about him and post pictures of him on Facebook and read comments about the pictures I post than actually spend five minutes getting down on the floor and doing sidewalk chalk with him” mode. I really hope these kinds of topics continue to gain momentum.
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