What is it about being a mom of little ones that steals a whole portion –or even the entirety—of your brain. More importantly, what is it about being a mom of littles (as I like to call them) that steals the smartest, most intelligent parts of your brain?! I’ve heard that pregnant women experience a phenomenon called “pregnancy brain” or “momnesia.” Now, I don’t know anything about that since all three of mine did not change my hormones or expand my belly when they came into my life; but there is something to this thing about having children under school age that has always caused me to experience a significant temporary drop in my IQ.
Seriously! Tell me I’m not alone here?! When our first daughter came along I shrugged it off as just being a new mom (a working mom) and having too much on my mind. I figured my mind was just full of too many other things. Then when our second daughter came along 2 years later and I had TWO under 2…I wondered if my brain had decided to move to an undisclosed location with no forwarding address. Simple things, like when my husband would ask me if I could bring him a drink of water. I would head to the kitchen and after many minutes I would return to the room where he was with a handful of M&Ms and begin carrying on conversation with no recollection of the original reason I had gone into the kitchen in the first place. I can’t even tell you how many requests went unfulfilled by me and eventually fulfilled by him (with no complaining or saying anything about it at all to me) that I never even realized. There were so many times when meeting him somewhere he’d ask if I could bring him a shirt or jacket so that he would not have to wear his uniform to wherever it was we were going; I would say, “Oh yeah, you bet! I’ll bring you one.” Hang up the phone, and it was as if my brain had been erased. I’d grab my keys, drive to meet him, without ever thinking twice about the shirt or jacket I was supposed to be transporting with me.
Then came the day we finally had both girls enrolled in school. (Insert breathes a deep deep breath of fresh sweet 4 hour freedom). Sure, I mean, that first day I cried as I walked away leaving them both there in the care of strangers, er…I mean well equipped teachers and staff. But by day two I was kissing them in the car, dropping them off at the curb, and using every ounce of restraint I could muster not to peel out of the parking lot and get on with the 4 hour freedom ride. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my girls, but all moms that have their children in school (public or private) know exactly what I’m talking about. You know you do! Don’t leave me out here hanging, friends. A simple nod of acknowledgement of understanding will suffice as you read this.
Ok, thank you for that. Now I feel that we can move on together in solidarity through the rest of this rant. I appreciate your honesty and ability to identify.
About one week after sending the girls off to school and experiencing 4 hours of silence. Uninterrupted trips to the bathroom—no one opening the door—no fingers under the door… no sounds of the Backyardigans in the background... no one asking for anything from me for those 4 hours. I had the most phenomenal thing happen.
I had an intelligent thought.
It caught me off-guard for a moment and I felt as if I should get a pen and paper and write it down. I didn’t. In retrospect I should have, because for the life of me I can’t remember what it was. But when it came, it brought friends …more intelligent thoughts even deep spiritual conversations between God and I that I had been missing for so long. This continued for nearly 8 years. Every year when my girls would head back to school (Can I just get a WHOOP for sending kids back to school?!) my brain would come back to me from whatever distant beach it had gone on vacation to during summer break while my girls were home. And I somehow blocked out the fact that my brain—the part that operates on more than just the tyranny of the urgent-- and I were ever separated for those first 7 years of motherhood.
That is until Max came home. Somehow, I had forgotten how dumb I get when there is a child under 5 years old in our family. I find myself scanning journals of the past few years to, in fact, confirm that I do have deeper thoughts than: What’s for dinner? What time is it? When were you last changed? What is the answer to that 5rd grade math problem? Is there a letter e at the end of that word? What in the world is a supplemental angle? Is it wrong to bribe your kid with Candy Corn? And the list goes on…
So, if you are in this place with little ones, I just want to write to encourage you.
You aren’t permanently dumb.
The drop in your IQ is only temporary and your thinking brain will return when your kids become school-aged. (Unless, of course, you choose to homeschool—and since I don’t, I can’t really tell you how that all works out. I have plenty of really smart friends who do homeschool that could better educate you as to when they got their brains back and I can point you in their direction if this looks like your future).
In the mean-time, give yourself some credit. You’re deeper-thinking brain has had to step out momentarily because there is no room for it. That space is being taken over by the part of your brain that filters thoughts like:
What is that you’re eating? Why is it so quiet? How did you get that Sharpie marker? How will I remove that Sharpie ink from the carpet? Is the toilet really the best place to play basketball? How do I keep him from getting out of his crib without using duck tape or Velcro? Would it be wrong to use Velcro sheets and pjs? Why is it so quiet out where the baby is? Poop, although brown, should not be used as paint…ever.
And while it may seem like an eternity, this season passes in the blink of an eye. I can honestly say this because as a mom of a 10, 8, and 1 year old I can honestly say that I now have a blessed perspective on the speed at which life moves.
And if I could be dumb longer, I would.
Wait. That came out wrong.
What I meant by that was, if I could slow down time and let this season last longer with each of them at their present ages—I sure would.
This is the shortest of all time that I know I will long to have back again one day when they are (all three) so much bigger. And I know that in 4 short years, I will have more of my thinking brain back. It will be traded in for a girl who’s nearly old enough to drive, one on the verge of her teens and pushing the latest fashion envelope, and a little boy wearing a backpack that’s too big as he heads off to ½ day Kindergarten. Oh sweet Jesus, I’m not ready for all that. Make the low IQ years feel like forever, Lord. I never thought I would pray such a thing, but the age gap between our precious gifts has brought so much crazy perspective. I didn’t plan it this way, but I’m so glad He did. And I’m sure He’s got a great reason behind the whole drop in IQ thing too. Probably has something to do with focus and our children’s safety. J I read this great quote in an article regarding “mom-brain” that I’ll close with.
"It has been postulated that, this memory impairment may be helpful so that women will forget about other stuff and focus on caring for the child."
Yeah. Probably valid and what a nice name for it—memory impairment.