The Memory Dump

the memory dump

Have you ever seen the memory dump scene in the movie Inside Out?

In the scene Joy falls into this huge black hole of old memories that look like gray balls. As Riley matures the forgotten memories are tossed down there and eventually evaporate into nothing.

The movie does a great job of explaining how all of our memories, even the sad ones, create who we are. And sometimes we have to feel sadness in order to really appreciate joy.

My son and I watched Inside Out for the first time in a while the other day and I found myself crying into the popcorn bowl.

Elliott: Mom, I thought you liked this movie?

Me: I do. But it makes me think of all of your childhood memories that I can’t remember. I’m your mother I should remember this stuff. <more crying.>

Elliott: Ignores me and continues to eat popcorn.

Being an ADHD mom can be uniquely painful because not only do we forget the little things, sometimes we forget the big things as well.  And then we feel sad because we want to remember ALL THE THINGS.


We forget the firsts

Anyone out there with ADHD who has a great memory?  Just checking.

You remember the day your child was born.  You might remember a long, grueling labor or even a beautiful home birth.

I remember my epidural wearing off during the c-section, his screaming in the hospital, and how the nurses didn’t know how to help me.

We only seem to store the really emotionally charged events. Brain science offers an explanation for this. 

For we with ADHD, this is even more true.

Why can’t I remember my child’s first smile? Or his first word?

Now that he is nine I am desperate to remember some of these firsts. I would give anything to go back in time and spend a day with him at age one or two.

the memory dump


But I can’t. And I’m kicking myself because I want to remember all the firsts.


We forget the lasts

Please, I beg you – don’t tell me I should have filled in all the pages of the baby book.  Nobody does that.

For all my talk of journaling and mind-dumping, you’d think I would have kept some kind of journal of his first year.

I was a stay-at-home-mom, and for the life of me I cannot recall how we spent our days. I took a few pictures here and there, but most of them are in the cloud. WTF is the cloud?

It’s hard enough to have trouble recalling the firsts, then you start to realize that part of parenting is also mourning the, “lasts.”

Sometimes I think about how when I decided to stop nursing, my son didn’t even notice. He had his little serving of frozen boob juice each day until it ran out and that was it.

I cannot remember the last time I put my baby to my breast. And that memory loss really hurts.

Do you remember the last time your child sucked their thumb, or asked you to tuck them into bed? Probably not. And it sucks.

Yes, as parents we want our children to grow up. But every mom with ADHD also knows that the LAST TIME can be just as meaningful as the first. If you can remember it.


We hoard objects

I have two large bins of baby clothes and other mementos of my son’s early life.

Keeping this stuff is actually out of character for me. I have no problem tossing junk mail or donating my own used clothing.

But I hold onto HIS things because my brain cannot pull up the actual memories.

The thought process goes like this: “Maybe if I have the tangible object, I can hold it in my hand and then the memory will come to me.”

All the decluttering experts say that the, “stuff” is not what matters. And I totally agree.

The stuff does not matter for neurotypical, non-adhd parents who have kept record of all of the events of their children’s lives. Or who can recall first words and first birthdays.

I don’t have that luxury. So my husband will have to deal with my two Tupperwear bins.


We get lost in the now

Time blindness is real for you and I. Life is happening now and the future is a little fuzzy.

Many of us are just getting by, trying not to compare ourselves to others or read too many parenting blogs that make us feel like crap.

There is little time for documenting and journaling about our children’s daily lives.

This isn’t just about ADHD, it’s about being the best parent you can be with ADHD while knowing that you will inevitably forget some things you really want to remember.

The homework, the laundry, the physical exhaustion – it’s all part of today.

Not every day will be memorable. Whole days and weeks will go into the memory dump, and just like Bing Bong in the movie, they will be forgotten.

In the end only a handful of really impactful experiences will stay with us.

But every day is a chance to start again. So lets make the stuff we do remember a positive as possible.

I’ll just be over here crying into my popcorn.

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