Sunday, May 1, 2011

Attack Of The Mom-Brain

The other day, I ran into a pregnant mother of two at the mall, trailing the kindergartner who's in my daughter's class, and her preschooler.  I mentioned Thing 2 and I were looking forward to the playdate we'd scheduled with her kindergartner the upcoming Saturday, and she got a puzzled look on her face.   "Wait, is that the 7th?" she asked.  I nodded.  "That's her birthday," she exclaimed, pointing to her preschooler.  The mom had actually suggested the date to me about three or four weeks back in an email, when she wrote about making a playdate.  Now it was suddenly occurring to her that she'd double-booked, and not just on any day, but her other daughter's birthday.  She turned a bit reddish and then said something to the affect of, "You must think I'm a total space cadet.  But see, I have three calendars.  I know I shouldn't but ..."  And on she went until I interrupted with this:  "It's fine, I get it.  I have Mom Brain too.  You not only have Mom Brain, you have Pregnant Mom Brain."  She knew what I was talking about: moms have too friggin' much to remember.  And it's to the point where, yes, you could actually FORGET the date of your own kid's birthday in a moment of well-intentioned, over-scheduling madness.
For some of us, being a mom means suffering from Mom Brain attacks, on a fairly regular basis.  The Mom Brain Attack turns previously meticulously organized, Type-A Virgos like myself into Gracie Allen.  Gracie Allen, if you're not well-versed in vaudeville, radio and early TV stars of the last century, was the dizzy-dame on-screen partner (and savvy off-screen wife) of straight man husband George Burns, a guy who made a living for the first half of his lengthy career standing next to Gracie, holding a cigar, and asking her questions designed to show off just how dizzy she could be.  Gracie's persona was a woman who constantly mistook one thing or person for another, and operated on a logic system that only made sense to her.  She always had the best of intentions -- just like the mom who'd booked the playdate on her other kid's birthday -- but things got impossibly mucked up anyway.  In real life, Gracie raised two adopted kids who apparently turned out fine.  But I'll bet she had her Gracie moments, her Mom Brain Attacks, with them, because I suspect all moms do.

Mom Brain attacks can come at any time, but one thing I've found certain to bring them on is a pre-six-thirty-a.m. in-the-bed visit from Thing 1.  My little boy insists on being the Herald of the Morning, popping up bedside and then tumbling onto mom and dad no matter how deeply asleep we are, and invariably rousing us to the point where we cannot return to slumber even after we've sent him back to his own bed.  The resulting lack of a full night's sleep is liable to produce all sorts of Mom Brain attacks in the coming hours.  Here are some examples I've experienced:

-Pouring orange juice instead of milk over breakfast cereal.
-Letting the oatmeal boil over because I've forgotten I'm making oatmeal, because I stepped away to check my email ten minutes ago.
-Unloading the dirty dishes from the dishwasher.
-Forgetting to dry the clothes I stuck in the washer ten hours ago.
-Going to the grocery store to get one specific item, buying four other items, then getting all the way home before I realize I didn't get that one specific item.
-Reflexively getting on the freeway to go to a staff meeting that is actually scheduled for the next day.
-Reflexively heading home after school drop-off INSTEAD of getting on the freeway to go to that staff meeting the next day.
-Teaching Thing 2 to cook by following a recipe for something utterly simple -- grape juice gelatine, so Thing 2 could make jiggly Jello shapes -- and somehow being convinced it read "Four cups of grape juice, One Envelope Unflavored Gelatine" ...and noticing, three hours later after the gooey stuff still refused to set in the refrigerator, that the recipe actually called for FOUR envelopes of unflavored Gelatine.

You get the idea. Perhaps you've experienced some Mom Brain Attacks of your own recently -- you know, that time you showed up with child and wrapped present at some other kid's house at what you were convinced was the appointed day and time for a birthday party, only to find out you've missed the party by a full week.  Feel free to share your stories -- I will empathize and commiserate.

My point is, something happens in our neural wiring when we become moms, and our software turns as kluge-y as a Microsoft update of Windows.  The more we try to do our very best for our little ones, the more details we have to keep track of, the more responsibilities we take on, the less space there seems to be in our overtaxed grey matter to keep it all straight.  If only we could add more memory, the way I can to a laptop computer.  But then again, more memory probably wouldn't solve the problem.  Even if our capacity to store more information was expanded, we'd probably just have more stuff to mix up.

I count myself lucky that I've only two kids' schedules to keep track of, plus my own and my husband's.  I only have to worry about keeping track of school events for two classrooms, plus T-ball, ballet, swim lessons, Hebrew School, etc.  Imagine if I had another kid to add to the mix.  Honestly, I don't know how Maria Von Trapp did it without an Excel Spread Sheet program.  Of course, she was Austrian and her husband was a Naval Officer, so that might've helped.  But somehow, I suspect even Maria showed up on the wrong day to Liesl's yodeling lessons.

To all who suffer the consequences of our mom brain attacks (and honey, I'm really sorry about the Bugs Bunny collector's item mug I broke last night trying to hang it on the mug tree on the same branch where another mug was already hanging), here's a plea from a mom who seems to channel her inner Gracie on a regular basis:  a little forgiveness, please.  We mean well.  We're just, well, moms.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Of your many wise posts, this is one of the best! You call it "mom brain", I call it "mommy alzheimers". Even with one (blush!), I have so much to keep track of with my Type A girl, if I didn't have Outlook, I'd be in serious trouble!