“Why do you have so much trouble remembering things?” my husband wanted to know.

My snappy answer might have been, “Because I’m not your personal secretary!”

Another possible reply could have been, “Because you never told me that.”

And it’s possible he hadn’t. We’re both busy people. He might think he told me; he might have meant to tell me; he might have thought about telling me. But maybe he didn’t.

I had to pause and consider before I replied because perhaps he was feeling like his priorities aren’t important to me, and I didn’t want to indicate that they aren’t.

The fact is, as the mom in the house, and someone who works from home, I am the one who does most of the remembering for the family. Remembering uses a lot of brain power. I simply can’t always remember everything.

Remembering for a mom means making sure stuff just gets done, above and beyond waking people up on time when their alarms are blaring, making breakfasts and packing lunches, signing forms, and driving someone to hockey practice.

It means considering, noticing, and doing a lot of things that are invisible to others.

In our house, it means recalling that there are open windows when I hear the furnace kick on.

It’s realizing that we’re almost out of milk and thinking I better stop at the store on the way home from practice, and since I’m going to be at the store anyway, what else might we need? And even before we leave the house, letting the dogs out, because we might not be home for a while.

It’s memorizing the phone numbers for the pizza place, the pediatrician’s office, the oil company, veterinarian, dentist, and the attendance line at school.

It’s recollecting where I put the form for school pictures and realizing I should try to squeeze in a haircut before picture day.

It’s also bringing to mind where I last saw someone’s car keys, glasses, student ID, charger, or earbuds—often on short notice because they’re on the verge of being late for school or work.

It’s trying to recall the Netflix password—even though my computer remembers it—because someone wants to sign in on a different device.

It’s frequently thinking about shutting off fans and lights, blowing out candles, closing doors (front door, garage door, door between garage and house, refrigerator door), or noticing a faucet is not turned off all the way or the toilet is running and the handle needs jiggling.

Then there’s the reminding other people of things. “Don’t you have a project due this week?” or “Whose pizza is in the oven?” or “The washing machine is finished—do you need those clothes dried for tomorrow?”

If my brain were a computer, I’d upgrade the processor and memory. But it’s not. So I got a giant magnetic whiteboard for the fridge (the equivalent of a thumb drive, if we want to stick with the computer analogy). Getting the whiteboard was one of my sons’ ideas and he texts me his work hours every time his schedule is updated so I can update the calendar. The entries are color-coded by person.

The reply I chose for my husband was, “Sorry, hon. I have a lot on my mind. If it’s not written on the whiteboard, I might not be able to remember it. Go ahead and use the blue pen.”

Caroline Poser

I'm a work-at-home/telecommuting mom of three teenage sons. I ghostwrite blog posts for a worldwide tech company and have some other writing projects on the side. An author of four books, my personal writing has appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies, including the #1 New York Times best-selling series Chicken Soup for the Soul®.