With razor sharp clarity, I can tell you what each of my 22-month old twin sons had to eat for three meals in a day and what my 3 year-old son’s temperature was at 11 a.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7. But I can be 30 seconds into my shower and not remember if I just washed my face. Usually I go ahead and wash it a second – I think – time just in case. So now I’ve got mom brain and dried out skin!
I made peace a long time ago with losing my watch for months at a time and waiting faithfully for it to show back up. Just the other day I was pulling my double stroller out of the back of our mini-van and I saw something shiny down in the handle you pull to set up the third row. Hey! Yes! My watch!
My sister can ask me to pick something up at Costco, while I’m on the way there, and I promptly forget all about it. My husband can have the exact conversation with me twice – so he tells me – because to me, the first one is just gone. Poof. It’s like mom-onset dementia. It’s exasperating to him, and if I’m being honest, a little scary to me.
I’d like to think I was zoned out because there were at least two little voices coming from the backseat at the time, saying “mama, mama” wanting more water, a various toy, or asking me if I like to eat chocolate bugs. But I don’t know.
I’m way past being able to use preggo-brain as an excuse, and I am getting way more sleep than I did in the breastfeeding stage. Maybe it’s an accumulation of the sleep deprivation. I can’t remember (well, duh) the last time I slept past 7 a.m. And there are still plenty of reasons I stay up late, get woken up early and very often a time or two in between.Maybe it’s the constant pull coming from three directions – all of which I asked for and love, by the way – but it can be fairly mind-blowing. I read the way one mom explained it on the website www.Mother.ly and I think she nailed it: “Moms answer approximately 1,709 questions a day,” Amy Miller writes. “We are always on alert. We are strategizing our next moves. We are moving cups before they fall from the edge of the table and planning diaper changes and feedings for a productive, efficient trip to the store. Being a mom often means putting our thoughts, plans, and ideas for our kids before our own. And that’s a beautiful, selfless thing. But it’s mentally exhausting.”
All you have to do is Google “Is Mom Brain Real?” and you get multiple theories to mull over about it. One article I read from “Psychology Today” talked about research that’s confirmed there are structural changes in the brain for at least two years after a baby is born. Interestingly, it’s not only mothers, but fathers too.
Even more interesting to me was that the research suggested the hormone oxytocin, which is present during labor, pregnancy and breastfeeding, might “play a role in keeping women from developing bad memories about the experience” and extrapolating that to include not just reasons to forget birthing and breastfeeding, but parenting.
Yet another article I read on Mother.ly pointed out that research showed how it’s actually helpful for your brain to sort through – and dump – some short-term memory to clear the way for the most useful information for making faster and better decisions for you kids. Hey, I think that’s the one I’m going to go with!
The good news in all this is that the keen sense of focus we have on our children – and less on everything and everybody else – makes us better and more attentive parents. The bad news is it can make us a pain in the neck to everybody else.
What is there to do about it? I’ve read it’s a lot of the same solutions to a lot of other problems: sleep more, eat right, and exercise. I’m working on all three. In the meantime, I’ll be the one feeling the toothbrush to see if it’s wet – did I remember to do that? – asking for a lot of forgiveness and steering clear of heavy machinery.