There was a time in the past when I was pretty sharp. I could keep facts, dates, names, skill sets, the proper spelling of words, the exact word to describe something and my entire to-do list in my head and still get everything done correctly without dropping the ball. Then came kids. “Mommy brain” is all I’ve got these days, which can be added to the long list of things that take a hit at a mom’s self esteem. Wider hips, saggy boobs (saggy everything, really), a messy house, stained clothing, dark circles under your eyes from sleepless nights and just a general sense of exhaustion round out a list of things that can make a mom feel less than wonderful about herself. Some moms are good about finding the time to keep up the pre-children personal grooming habits like eyebrow plucking, manicures, pedicures, at home facials, regular leg shaving, professional haircuts and styles and the other basic things that make women feel beautiful. But the majority of us (and I really hope I’m in the majority here) are just too tired and too preoccupied to take too much time for ourselves.
But I was talking about mommy brain. My once extensive English major vocabulary has been reduced to using words like “stuff,” “thingy,” “whatchmacallit” or the much-hated “uhhh” because I can’t remember the word I was searching for. My to-do list must be written down and kept in a very visible place, or I will forget I even have a list in the first place. I forget birthdays, what day of the week it is, and have even been reduced to pointing and calling one of my children “you” when the name didn’t pop into my brain fast enough for my mouth to say it.
I call it mommy brain because being around my kids keeps me so distracted that I can’t seem to hold a coherent thought in my head. I am constantly keeping one eye on them to make sure they don’t get hurt, hurt each other, hurt someone else, break something, color on something, pee on something, eat something they shouldn’t and so on and so forth. And while one eye is on the kids, the rest of me is doing something else. And the quality of that something else is usually compromised. Even when I’m alone (which is either when I’m asleep, or in the car, which I count as being alone because the kids are actually quiet) my mind is off in la-la-land, replaying a phone call I just had, preparing for a phone call I have to make, thinking about whether I defrosted the meat for dinner tonight, wondering if I remembered to put the laundry in the dryer before I left. The list goes on.
On Friday, I forgot my daughter. Luckily, I didn’t leave her somewhere where she was unsupervised, but I forgot her nonetheless. I took Chase to the library, which is about 2 blocks from Caylie’s school, and when we got in the car to leave the library, I was thinking, “great, I still have 10 minutes until pick-up time. We can sit in the car for a bit and listen to the radio and relax.” So I proceeded to pull out of the library parking lot and drive home. About a mile from my house, I looked up in my mirror to check on the kids and realized that there was only one kid in the backseat.
Sometimes I joke about how having children has destroyed some of my brain cells. But a lot of the time, I mean it! I feel like my IQ has gone down. I am still an avid reader, but the deepest thought I have these days is whether or not my control-freak, anxious mothering is psychologically damaging my children. And I forgot to buy milk. Oh, and the laundry has been sitting in the dryer for 3 days because, I, uhhhhh, forgot about it.
What was I saying?