Mom brain. They say it’s a bad thing. That the pregnancy and postpartum period cause “impaired” brain function. It’s blamed for the state of foggy forgetfulness many of us find ourselves in after having children. Just the other day, I heard someone apologize for their mom brain. But screw that. I’m damn proud of my mom brain, and I’ll tell you why.
But to start, I don’t say any of this to diminish the dad brain in any way. He obviously helps whenever and wherever he can. But he also travels, so many days it is just me. My mom brain is on my own. But even when he is here, he often has the luxury of focusing on one task at a time. Because while my kids love him, they cling to me. There’s always something that only mommy can do, at least in my family.
My mom brain has to get 3 people ready and out of the house every morning. I try to answer a work email from Japan at 7 am on my phone, moments before the 3-year old bounds into the room to interrupt literally every thought I have with a new question. My coffee gets shuffled from room to room as I take care of everyone’s needs; change the diaper, nurse the baby, read a book, read another book, wipe a bottom, but not with that toilet paper, the other toilet paper. Shove my wet hair into a bun, remember to put nursing pads into my bra. My mom brain has to remember exactly where that dress is that my daughter wants to wear (in the large pile of unfolded clothes that I’ve dumped on the guest bed), or else there might be a meltdown before 8 am. Mommy I want a braid, no I want a ponytail, no I want that bow. I have to make sure the dishwasher gets run the night before so that I have clean bottle nipples to screw on the milk that’s organized by date in the fridge. My mom brain has to keep track of the fact that it’s teacher appreciation week, and today I have to take flowers to my daughter’s class and handmade cards to my son’s class, and tomorrow it’s flowers to my son’s class and homemade cookies to my daughter’s class, and the next day it’s more handmade cards to ohmygoshisitFridayyet. My mom brain has to remember that it’s dance day for her, and that he’s running low on diapers, and that she needs a family picture printed out for her classroom wall and that I have to replace the spare clothes in his cubby because it’s been a blowout kind of week. I have to assemble and pack my pump parts every single day; and sometimes I realize I’ve forgotten them after I’ve already gotten to work, and thank goodness I don’t have a meeting at 9 am because my boobs are going to explode if I don’t go back home. I could blame it on mom brain, but look at what my mom brain has already accomplished before the coffee has even had a chance to kick in.
My mom brain gets to work and is firing on all cylinders. Emails are flying, fires are being put out, I’m making sh*t happen. Ding. Outlook reminder. Time to pump. Refill my water, close the curtains, hook up the pump, breathe in, breathe out, relax. Get the milk going, and get back to work. Ding, 5 minutes until my next meeting. Unscrew the flanges from the bottles, drip drip, wipe up my desk, screw on the tops before they get spilled. Less than 3 hours later… ding. My mom brain bounces back and forth all day long, between my work and making food for my baby.
My mom brain runs through a mental checklist every time we leave the house. Socks. Shoes. Fill the water bottle. Bring a snack. No not that snack, I want a different snack. Pack the diapers. Refill the wipes. Need hats. And sunscreen. And a bib. Where’s that teething toy? Nurse the baby. Make the 3-year old go potty. Carry as many things at once out the door. Buckle them into car seats. Clean out old drinks and trash from the car during the first time my hands have been free in 4 hours. Fetch that toy to prevent the meltdown. Stick the paci in the mouth. Adjust the buckle, it’s too tight. Start the car. Mommy put that song one, the one after Hello. Pull out of the driveway. Realize I’ve left my phone at home.
My mom brain has to track the health needs of 3 people. I have to remember to schedule the 1 month, 2 month, 4 month, 6 month, 9 month, 12 month appointments… and the sick ones in between. And the 3-year old’s dentist appointment. Oh she needs a haircut. It’s been 9 months since my own haircut. Baby needs his nails trimmed, says the huge scratch on my face. Did we brush your teeth yet? My mom brain has to remember the last time we dosed the ibuprofen and the last time the baby pooped. Baby spikes a fever in the middle of the night, and I can’t take him to school the next day. My mom brain has to switch back and forth between baby and work; I time our feeds & play to ensure he takes a nap during the call where I’m presenting my report to the clients. Please please please stay asleep.
My mom brain has to keep 3 people in this family clothed, which is no small feat. My mom brain is always thinking of what size the kids will be in 6 months, because I have to be on the hunt for their next wardrobe. Because their closets literally turn over every season. And with the littlest one, sometimes I have to churn it 3 times in a season because they grow so darn fast. I am constantly sorting clothes into bins. Washing. Folding. Selling. Donating. But inevitably there’s a day when someone doesn’t have any pants that fit. Or I forget to buy gloves in time for the cold weather. And there are days when I send the baby to school without any socks because I literally cannot rub together two socks that match in my house.
My mom brain has to figure out what to wear every day. A third of my closet doesn’t fit. Another third isn’t nursing-friendly. That leaves a third that I basically churn through by picking clean clothes out of the laundry basket, never bothering to put them away. Every morning, my mom brain considers how much I’ll be nursing in public or in front of others that day. Should I wear two shirts so I don’t need to use a cover that my baby’s just going to swat off? Oh I’m going to be wearing the baby, so I should wear a shirt I can pull down? Oh we’re taking pictures on the beach in a month? Literally I can’t wear any of the dresses I want to because I’d either ruin the neckline or have to pull up the entire thing. Seriously, my mom brain shouldn’t have to work this hard just so you don’t see a little boob while I feed my child.
When planning a family vacation, my mom brain is in full effect. When booking flights 10 months before the trip, I have to think about how early is too early for the kids, and scheduling our return so that we get home in time for bedtime to avoid a meltdown at 30,000 feet. 8 months before the trip, I think about the fact that I’d like to have family photos done on vacation, so I book a photographer (and begin the long search for the perfectly coordinating but not too-matchy outfits). I book the babysitter 6 months ahead of time, so we can have a little kid-free time on vacation. 4 months before, I take pictures of my baby, print them at Walgreens, make an appointment at the post office, get some stuff notarized, and get my son a passport. 3 months ahead, I have to buy clothes and swimsuits and sunhats and sandals and sunglasses for everyone. A month before the trip, those brown Amazon boxes are showing up on our doorstep every other day with a new item I just remembered that we needed. I’m in packing mode; I have to remember the swim diapers and the tent and the baby sunscreen and the bug spray (oh crap, what types are safe, let me put that on the list of questions to ask the pediatrician) and the floaties and the toys for the plane and the snacks and the bottles and my pump and the frozen milk and all. the. things.
My mom brain can do a lot of things, it’s a multi-tasking machine. But it is basically failing at housework. The place is a constant wreck. But my mom brain has to make sure that everyone gets enough love. Everyone’s cup must be filled every day, including my own. So I let the dishes pile up in the sink, and the laundry pile up on the floor. Because it means I get to spend more time with my kids, listen to them, connect with them. I kiss the scrapes and wipe the noses and shoo away the monsters. Every single day, they know they are loved. So the next time you apologize for your mom brain, remember all that your mom brain actually does, and be proud. It’s making your world go ‘round.
Happy Mother’s Day to everyone with a #mombrain out there! What does your #mombrain do?