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Book Review

Parenting book 'Momnesia' not a new concept, but one worth revisiting

By Kristi Palma
Boston.com Staff / March 16, 2012
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The book “Momnesia” asks mothers to consider this: What did you like to do before you got married and had kids?

It’s a simple question. But, like the character in the book, it gave me pause.

I have been a mother for five years, just a fraction of my life. But when I tried to think of ways I spent time before my kids, it took longer than it should have. After several long panicky moments, it came flooding back – the ski trips, tennis matches, scrapbooking marathons. Then I got bummed out that all three of those enjoyable tasks have happened exactly zero times since I’ve given birth. Not that my life isn’t fun, it’s just individual hobbies have taken a back burner to quality time with the kids, a career, and a (semi) clean home.

The book “Momnesia” by Lori Verni-Fogarsi, released today by Brickstone Publishing, is about being a good mother without losing yourself in the process. In “Momnesia,” we follow the mother of two school-age children through her divorce. She sheds a toxic partner, but more importantly, she sheds the emotional baggage that comes from years of caring for others’ needs and putting her own last. I know many moms in my community -- whether divorced or single -- can relate to that.

Momnesia, according to Verni-Fogarsi, is “the loss of the memory of who you used to be. Caused by pregnancy, toddler play dates, and trying to keep the house cleaner than the Joneses.” This isn’t a book filled with look-how-crazy-my-kids-make-me stories. It’s a book about husbands and wives. It’s about friends. It's about realizing your full potential. And it’s also about navigating parenting in a society that can sometimes feel competitive and judgmental.

Not all women are momnesiacs, as Verni-Fogarsi explains in the book. Some have figured out ways to be good mothers while also living as an “actual woman." These women have lives beyond their children. They know how to have fun and talk about more than diapers and parenting techniques. They feel sexy.

I would like to think I am what Verni-Fogarsi calls an "actual woman." But I definitely have some momnesia.

I enjoy dressing up for date nights with my husband (when we can manage a babysitter). I still go out with my friends. But I am living in the “Mom World,” as Verni-Fogarsi puts it. I am talking potty training and discipline a lot lately. I have been known to accidentally speak toddlerese to adults. I am sporting the mom ponytail more often than I'd like to admit. Sometimes I feel like my "mom hat" is always on. The main character in “Momnesia” asks herself: “Was it that I hadn’t been myself or was it that I was being myself but just different than I used to be?” It’s a question worth exploring.

The book felt a bit long. And it’s certainly no secret mothers put themselves last. Verni-Fogarsi did not invent the word momnesia – the term has been used to label forgetful pregnant and postpartum women for years. But the author tackles the subject with humor and gets you thinking about a worthwhile subject – yourself.

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(Image courtesy Brickstone Publishing)

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