Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Mom Brain

It's nothing to be concerned about, but I seem to have lost my coffee. And my cell phone.

My phone can only be in one of three places - the key table in the front hall, the kitchen counter, or my bedside table. These are the only places I ever put it down. EVER. Otherwise I'll lose it.
Except, oddly, it doesn't seem to be in any of those places.
Can someone give me a quick call so I can follow the ring?

My coffee could be, quite literally, anywhere. I carry it around with me all over the house and put it down on whatever the nearest available surface is. And then, more often than not, leave it there.
But the thing is, this is just not that big a house. And I've looked all through it. Everywhere.

I'll get the kids to help me. "Treasure hunt for Mommy's coffee" is a game we play almost daily. Middle Child rolls his eyes and goes racing upstairs, yelling "I'll look in the usual spots." Eldest Child tries to work through it with me: "Where did you have it last, Mommy?" Well if I knew that, dear, it wouldn't be lost, now would it?

It's not my fault, though. I'm not one of those completely befuddled, head-in-the-clouds types who barely muddles her way through the day, nor do I believe I'm developing any sort of middle-aged memory problem. I'm only thirty-four years old, and I am a very competent multi-tasker who raises three children, runs a successful business, keeps an organized, efficient home, coordinates a community parent group and participates in school council. These tasks, I can manage. Keeping track of my coffee, or remembering a name or what I walked upstairs to grab - these sorts of things are absolutely beyond me.

It's Mom Brain.

Mom Brain is not to be confused with Pregnancy Brain, a condition in which the little angel you're growing inside you is tapping all your resources to the point where your brain is barely functioning at minimal capacity. The ability to answer questions intelligently, speak coherently and form rational opinions is inversely proportionate to the size of the baby, forcing the brain to operate on cruise control for the last few months until baby arrives. At this point Pregnancy Brain is taken over by New Mom Brain. Those suffering from this condition bear a strong resemblance to zombies, since it is triggered primarily by lack of sleep and extended and almost exclusive interaction with non-verbal little beings. New Mom Brain doesn't last long, as at some point our bodies adjust to less sleep and independence and we start to realize that babies are, in fact, manageable. Of course, it is often by this point that baby number two is on his way, starting the cycle all over again.

Mom Brain is what happens to those of us who have progressed beyond the first baby stage, who have several little people running around underfoot, children and toddlers rather than infants, depending on us to feed, clothe, shelter, entertain, educate, transport, schedule and coordinate, and clean up after them. Whether you work full-time or are a stay-at-home mom, share parenting duties with your spouse or do most or all of it on your own, participate in community groups, volunteer, have your kids in sports or arts programs, however busy and active you and your family happen to be, if you're a Mom you're affected by Mom Brain.

There simply isn't enough room in the human brain to keep track of everything moms have to keep track of, so the little things slip through the cracks. The entire family's work and volunteer and school schedules, snack sign-up days, pizza lunch days, field trips, homework, deadlines, weekly spelling drills, helping with fractions, school council meetings, committee meetings, practice reading, when-are-the-books-due-back-to-the-library, classmate birthday parties every other week, Eldest Child's sports twice a week, Middle Child's sports once a week, rep tryouts three weekends in a row, game and tournament schedules, drop the eldest for a playdate at his friend's house, pick up his brother's friend for a playdate at our house, doctors appointments, dentist appointments, allergies, medical history, swimming lessons, program deadlines, dear-God-it's-Friday-what-was-it-we-had-to-do-this-weekend? - and nevermind the portion of the brain kept separate for work, responsible for class schedules, client info, Board reports, newsletter updates, email correspondence, staff scheduling and payroll - if all this information needs to be kept at the tip of my tongue at all times then, well, I'm sorry but some things are going to slide down the priority list.

I'm simply not going to remember your name, despite the fact that you may just have told me two minutes ago. I will walk into my bedroom three different times and stand there, perplexed, only to turn and head back downstairs, before finally remembering that I was going in there to grab a sweater. My coffee and phone will misplace themselves a half dozen times a day somewhere in my own home. I will submit a thorough, clearly-written analytical report to the Board of Directors at work this afternoon and publish a literate, cogent, well-argued blog post tonight, but be unable to remember the word for those thingys that you use to serve salad - you know, that thing you squeeze - the salad thingys - whatever, you know what I mean, just pass them to your brother please. TONGS! Salad tongs.

These things will happen. It's Mom Brain. I accept that.

And, I don't want to alarm anyone, but my keys seem to have wandered off somewhere.

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