Uh oh. It's starting again. Last year, I had a stretch of time when I became quite, well, absent minded, or forgetful. Scatterbrained actually. More than once, in fact, more often than not, I was screwing up dates. I'd book a meeting, then remember that I had already booked another meeting at the same time. In the worst instance, I booked an important speaker to come to campus (a former professor of mine whom I admire but who scares the heebie jeebies out of me, still, almost twenty years after my dreadful presentation in her class), then booked a trip (on a plane!) out of town the same day.
How does this happen? I have a calendar on my phone that syncs with my computer and my iPad. And I have another hard copy calendar at home that the school provides with important school events pre-printed on it. I enter things into my calendar and so does my secretary. But somehow, sometimes, I just don't look, or perhaps don't see what is in front of me.
At some point, I realized that I was having a slight breakdown. I attributed it to peri-menopause (which I don't think I've officially reached but which I find easy to blame a lot of things on) and overwork. At the end of the day, I just had too much to do. I kept collapsing dates because the boundaries between work time and family time were getting harder and harder to keep. So, with my husband, I worked out my schedule so he did some things I would normally do, and I let some things go at work and it all seemed resolved.
Then, this week, it started again. I suddenly realized (and the sudden gasping realization is key to this phenomena) that I had to do some guest teaching on Friday, and had not made arrangements for anyone to get my kids from school. So, I started doing some fancy emailing. I realized that my son had a birthday party to attend that day, so emailed a host of moms to see if anybody could pick him up and take him to the party and had it almost arranged before I discovered that, in fact, the birthday party was a week later, and on a Thursday not a Friday.
Funnily enough, just before my sudden gasping realization, I got a call from a friend who, like me, is a professor, a commuter (and we commute, no joke 100 miles each way!), and a mom. She was driving to campus for a meeting. But she had only barely realized she had the meeting. Or, rather, she had made plans for the meeting -- arranging childcare, booking other meetings for the time before and after it -- but all on the wrong day. And on the true day of her meeting, she had plans to do lots of work at home. What a mess.
At first, I felt relieved and a little smug that it was her and not me who had messed up. But it must be catching. My own scatterbrain dementia returned. Just today, I found out that I booked a dinner party for the night of my kids' school open house. Oh well. I think it is a disease common to many working moms. We try to be everything to everyone and don't want to be called out as not meeting our responsibilities in any sphere, so we over commit. Maybe getting scatterbrained is nature's way of telling us that we can't.