On my way to work this morning, my brain swirled with all of the things I just HAD to do the second I got to work. I usually try to make notes of everything, and have them pop up as reminders on my computer, my phone, sticky notes on my dashboard. As I was driving, I didn’t want to do anything to distract myself, so I tried the mental list. Interestingly enough, it worked. I remembered everything I wanted to do and achieved it in record time (at least I THINK I remembered everything). So, why was I so worried?
Okay. My jury was out for awhile. Everything I heard about “mommy brain” appeared to be true. I saw my smart older sisters turn into blithering idiots after they had no sleep and a baby attached to their breasts for the first few weeks of life. And I swore it was coming for me, but I had hope that it may miss me completely or only affect me alitte bit. It all started with my pregnancy brain, which seemed to be only hyper-focused on eating and being a blob. I couldn’t really think about anything else. Then mommy brain hit. With a vengeance. Every basic thought I had was a struggle to produce, and I missed having normal conversations (instead of about my kid’s poop or eating) because I couldn’t function enough to have them.
At first, I thought mommy brain was truly an illusion. The theory was there to make moms feel better about forgetting normal day-to-day things. We weren’t alone, the theory said, everyone has it happen. While I was on maternity leave for my second child and sitting at home, watching bad TV, I happened to turn on the news to try and enlighten myself to what was happening in the world outside my cozy newborn nest. Lo and behold, the answer to all of my questions. There was an actual newscast about mommy brain! (I am not making this up from my maternity haze, this really happened.) I was so excited, I paid attention and focused my remaining brain cell on it. The newscast said how mothers really do get a sort of mommy brain, because when they give birth, their brains have to make room for the new information they need to support their child. We wipe away some of the basics (logic, reasoning, any important things, of course) and make room for the new things like how to deal with a diaper explosion or a fussy baby who won’t quiet down no matter what you do. The reporter talked about how in actuality, mothers get smarter as a result of this mommy brain, not dumber as we feel like we do. Our new “smart-ness” comes from all of the new things we learn about being a good mother. We learn how to juggle a child who is vomiting and one who needs to get ready for school, along with making lunch, breakfast, and putting on our own clothes that don’t have baby snot on them. We become excellent multitaskers (although sometimes, at the beginning, the amazing multitasking is an illusion too!) because we have to be, we won’t survive otherwise. As time goes on, our brains adjust, we remember some (not necessarily all) of the important things as well as the new things, which mean we are smarter than before due to the new knowledge we gained.
I don’t know if it was because I WANTED to believe it so bad, or if it was due to the science behind it (I am a super science person, and I like to have reasoning and logic as well as lots of facts to back things up) because they showed MRIs of mommy brains and you could SEE the difference, but I suddenly had regained my hope. I wasn’t dumber than before. I only APPEARED to be. I was gaining more knowledge, and the most important kind, of how to be a mom and deal with whatever situation came my way. I am learning still (my eldest is 4, I am sure we have a loooooooong way to go!) but the mistakes I’ve made along the way definitely don’t repeat with kid #2. Regardless, I sometimes struggle with the day to day tasks, what to remember for school for the kids, and how to put my shoes on. But I’m getting better, and now that #2 is two years old, I am starting to readjust to recall some of my basic thoughts I lost prior to getting pregnant. (Note I said some, not all. I lost a lot of important things I will never get back. Sigh.)