Tuesday, July 5, 2011

This Is Your Brain On Motherhood

This is your brain. (Holding up one large uncooked egg)

This is your brain on motherhood. (Egg cracked into hot frying pan.) Popping and sizzling ensues.

Any questions?

This Is Your Brain On Motherhood...overeasy and scrambled all at the same time.
Yeah, I have a question. How much more can women take? As if they don’t leech enough off of you, turns out they steal your smarts too.

People told me that when I got pregnant I would get stupid. While I certainly have my “blond moments,” I have always thought of myself as a relatively intelligent person, so on one hand I figured losing a few brain cells was no big deal since I had some to spare. Plus, I have always had a great memory. I could tell you what I was wearing on my first day of school each year of high school. I remember details of my childhood and I am fantastic and remembering faces. On the other hand, I had visions of me waddling through the Target parking lot frantically hitting the buttons on my car remote until my I could hear my horn honking because I forgot where I parked my car 20 minutes earlier.

I was working at the time and my biggest concern was that I would start screwing up at work. My job required remembering contract rates, deadlines and at the very least customer’s names. I had also just taken on extra work and had to learn a new part of my job. I was worried I had lost my capacity to learn. Turns out, I managed not to get fired over my inability to think.

I will say that there were certain things that I did that, whether they were because I was pregnant or not, made me think I was losing it. For example, letting the dog out in the morning before I left for work and leaving him out there in the rain all day. I came home to him barking at the back door, wet, muddy and ready to ring my neck if he had arms and hands.

When I decided to quit my job and stay home people said I would get stupid. They said that I would forget how to have adult conversations and when I did, I would fall into baby talk. They said my mind would turn to mush and I would go crazy.

Fast forward three years and I can still carry on a coherent conversation, even though it is usually about my kids. I am not big on baby talk to begin with, so I think I am in the clear on that one. I think it is pretty apparent that I was already crazy before I had kids and as far as my mind being mush? Well, more like a well ripened banana at this point. It seems as though my memory is the real casualty. I sometimes think I need to pin notes to the front of my shirt that say, “Dear Checkout person at Jewel, Please, tell me I need to buy stamps…and don’t let me walk away without them after I buy them.” Of course, this would also require remembering to buy the birthday card for my brother that actually reminded me I needed stamps. I should also include a note that asks them to remind me to use my coupons and did you get ricotta cheese so you can make lasagna tonight? Because most times I go to the store for 3 things and I walk out with a cart full of things I didn’t intend on buying and forget the three things I went there for.

I constantly forget where my car keys and cell phone are. I’ve found the only thing positive about getting a home phone line again is that I can call my cell phone when it is missing and chase the ringing around my house or out to my car. I often stand in front of the pantry knowing I went to get something and simply cannot remember what. The upshot is sometimes while I am staring aimlessly at my pantry trying to figure out what I went there for, I realize I put the milk in there instead of the fridge.

So, what causes this mind-suck? "There is 15 to 40 times more progesterone and estrogen marinating the brain during pregnancy, and these hormones affect all kinds of neurons in the brain," says Louann Brizendine, MD, director of the Women's Mood and Hormone Clinic at the University of California. In addition to the progesterone and estrogen surges, there is the lack of sleep and the shift in priorities. The lack of sleep and shift in priorities certainly carries over once the baby is born and the surge in oxytocin that occurs can also short-circuit the brain.

Unfortunately, I’m not battling pregnancy or post-partum hormones and I am still a little dense so I guess the multi-tasking and lack of sleep is really what has kept me in a fog for the last 4-plus years. I usually have a hard time falling asleep if I wake up in the middle of the night, because that is the only time it is quiet enough to think about everything else that I couldn’t focus on during the day.

I also have noticed that there are a lot of things from my pregnancies and the kids’ milestones during their first year that I simply just cannot recall. My friends ask me questions and try as I may, I just can’t remember. You would think I would, but the brain protects us from remembering otherwise no one would ever have more than one child. There have been numerous studies regarding forgetting the pain of childbirth, but I seemed to have blocked out my entire pregnancy and the first year of my kids’ lives! Although if you ask me, both pregnancy and the first year are pretty traumatic, so I guess it falls in the “painful” category. Of course, I also just mentioned that I forget to essential items at the grocery store and have also been known to go a whole day without realizing I have my underwear on sideways, so I guess it isn’t all that hard to believe after all.

Let’s not forget to mention who our company is all day. When you surround yourself with children whose focus is how to get a treat without eating their grilled cheese and grapes, twirling around in a princess dress while singing to herself or ramming matchbox cars into each other, you tend to get a little batty. Then there is the incessant calling of your name, usually for no reason. Finally, I think I could probably complete a task or remember to send a birthday card if I wasn’t always on high alert waiting for something to break, someone to get hit or bit or for Colin to open the back door and run out to the swing set and start climbing up the slide. Of course, this usually happens when it is raining, I have a white tank top with no bra on or both, so I am hoping that me screaming “Colin get back here!” does not prompt the neighbors to look out their window.

I’ve gotta say, TV tops the list as main cause of brain degeneration. I really appreciate some of these shows for their creativity, ability to teach my children and give me a chance to make dinner, like WordWorld, but some of the other ones just rot the brain...both the kids’ and mine. For example, Yo Gabba Gabba, Wow Wow Wubzy (the names alone indicates you will get stupider after watching them) and Backyardigans. The worst is listening to these movies or shows in your car when all you can hear is their voices. I’m worried that I might crash my car if I hear Barbie Princess and the Pauper one more time.

I knew I was in trouble when I started doing character analysis on the gang from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. You know, Mickey is the happy-go-lucky optimist. Donald is a self-centered, stubborn S.O.B. who is always complaining. Minnie is the doting maternal type who is also a bit of a worry wart. Daisy is a confident, no-nonsense kind of gal and as far as I can tell is trying to edge out Minnie for Mickey’s attention. Pete is greedy and gluttonous and usually uses deceptive measures to get what he wants. He does have some redeeming qualities, especially when it entails dressing like a bumble bee or a princess, but I’m pretty sure there is a deeper psychological issue there.

Then, there is the issue of children’s books. They say to turn off the television and make your kids read, but based on some of these ridiculous excuses for literature, I’d rather read them US Weekly. I am fairly certain that most of these authors sit around and smoke weed, drop acid or hit the crack pipe when they write these things. Especially Barbie books, most of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse books and anything Disney for that matter. And when you read these books over and over and over and over again, sometimes 15 times in a 30 minute span, you might as well smoke some crack yourself. I even try to make it more exciting by acting out the characters’ voices, but then I have to do it EVERY TIME and I my critics are merciless. Apparently, my Mater needs some work.

Whatever the cause of my ditziness may be, at the end of the day I am “fried.” (see 1980’s Say No to Drugs commercial reference above). It took me awhile to write this blog because I couldn’t remember all the things I forget on a regular basis. Of course, I am sure it doesn’t help that my coping mechanism for the insanity is drinking wine after the kids go to bed. But hey, what are a few more brain cells, right? I’ll just blame it on the hormones.

1 comment:

  1. And when you read these books over and over and over and over again, sometimes 15 times in a 30 minute span, you might as well smoke some crack yourself. (This part was the BEST). (I have read "barbapapa" and "goodnight moon" as much as 3 times in a row. After that many times in a 10 minute span, I consider hiding these books!