Being a Dad, I was curious to see what author Lori Verni-Fogarsi would be up to in her book Momnesia. My goodness, did she beat my expectations, or what? This mother narrator runs her own business, does everything for the two little girls, takes care of the household from A to Z, AND has to answer herself in conversations with hubby Paul.
Every time she asks him a question there are only three possible answers: yes, no, and I don’t know. Paul suffers from a disorder that makes him practically powerless to make decisions. When it’s time to plan a date, he can’t choose a restaurant. Put a menu in his hands, he can’t decide what to order. Oh, and as you might have expected Paul is much more interested in TV than having sex.
Killing him isn’t an option; after all, Paul is the girls’ father, isn’t he? Yet this mommy has her needs. First and foremost she would like someone to talk to. Might be nice if he listened, for a change, for once. Her day is a whirlwind of getting the kids out of bed, washed, dressed, fed, and off to school, then cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming, then taking care of customers.
Like moms everywhere, this suffering mom devotes every waking moment to the other people in her life. She suffers from “momnesia,” a syndrome of disappearance, the disappearance of the actual woman. She feels she’s invisible.
Endings are difficult, even unimaginable to a mom, thinking of her kids, but when she has a kind of near-death experience in the grocery store parking lot, she realizes enough is enough. Paul will go on like this until they’re old, perfectly happy in their roles as perfect strangers. But she won’t.
Mustering the courage to leave Paul doesn’t come easily to this narrator. One of the things I love about Momnesia is that we are given intimate access to her thinking process all the way through the year in which all this takes place. Paul is drawn rather starkly, completely unsuitable as a partner for anyone.
Even so, the decision she has to make is a gigantic one. She turns to her friends for advice and support, and meets new friends as well. Nothing happens suddenly. Everything evolves naturally and feels right. Yet when a friend asks her for a photo of herself, a search through her computer reveals 400 photos of the kids, Paul, the pets, her with the kids, her with the pets, but none of her alone. Why are there no pictures of her? Because she’s always been the one to snap the photos! No one ever snaps a photo of her. Why would they? She’s invisible.
Key events always involve courageous decisions to rebel against invisibility and once again do what she hasn’t done since she became a mom. Listening to her old favorite music; going out dancing with friends; experimenting with a new sex toy she calls “Wascally Wabbit (I nearly fell off my chair laughing);” making friends with a stranger.
Zest for life returns in direct proportion to the positive payback she gets from stepping out of the roles people expect her to fill. She doesn’t have to neglect the children; she just has to focus on her own needs now and then every day. It’s no spoiler to say Paul is a lost cause. We know it from the beginning.
Observing the gradual transformation of the mommy-narrator is the beauty of Momnesia. It’s a classic story, with a loveable, huggable narrator.
Reach for the phone or your reading device or whatever it is you use right now, and order this book. Moms, Momnesia will give you strength. Read the book and let me know how you liked it. Dads, it will give you pause to think. I’m sure you’re not at all like this dude, Paul, right? Please tell me that you’re not.