Sunday, February 2, 2014

Mommy Brain: Real or Myth?

“WHAT DAY IS IT?” I blurt out, like a Rain Man non-sequitor.

Generally, it doesn’t matter what day it is. My days tend to flow into one another. The saying “Same shit, different day” takes on a literal meaning with a toddler.

“It’s Friday?” my husband mumbles, clearly mirroring my own confusion.

“Crap, I was supposed to meet Reid 10 minutes ago! I’m late!” I say.

In vain, I try to gather a presentable-to-society outfit. I try to text my friend, as I race out the door. His number isn’t in my cellphone! How is that possible?! I rush to the restaurant. What? He’s not here. I check his emails on my phone…

Our plans are for NEXT Friday! Oh! Duh...and crap! 

(Later, I notice that his number was actually on our email correspondence.)

I am out of practice about having a “real” life. You know, meeting friends and such. Does my scatterbrained state of confusion suggest I'm suffering from the proverbial “Mommy Brain”?

It’s true. I exist in some sort of vague reality that's off the
woman looking up at thought bubble
time/space continuum. I have morphed into a toddler state of mind, complete with fairies and unicorns.

Yet, I struggle against the “Mommy Brain” cliché. I want to believe it’s an old wives’ tale. “Mommy Brain” seems to add to the stereotype that moms (particularly of the Stay-at-home variety) aren’t current -- that we have lost our edge and are no longer “productive” members of society.

It’s why I put “real” in quotes above. I mean I have a real life! It’s just not my former life.

Is my child literally making me lose my mind?

I do see evidence of “Mommy Brain” all around me. I am more likely to know the words to a song from the movie, Frozen, than the hot topic of The State of the Union address. I’m more apt to read Dr. Seuss than Dr. Anyone Else Adult.

The other day, our family went out to brunch. The waiter asked me if I wanted more coffee. I looked at the table and said, “Uh, I can’t find my cup.” The waiter responded generously, “Um, ma’am, It’s in your hand.”

I didn’t make this interaction up, folks! Maybe, I should be blaming it on my toddler!

So I googled “Mommy Brain”, and found some interesting stuff. It turns out that our babies aren’t the only ones growing. According to a study, the grey matter in mom’s brain actually grows too! It gets bigger in the areas of the hypothalamus, prefrontal corext and amygdala. These areas control emotional regulation, motivation, planning and foresight! Not bad, mamas!

The authors of the article do suggest that memory lapses, such as forgetting names (or that one’s coffee cup is in one’s hand), may be due to a shifting set of priorities.

I like that one better too. I would rather say that my priorities have changed to caring for my daughter than to say I have “Mommy Brain”.

Yeah, I’m going with that one, and with the fact that I have a bigger brain since having Claire!

What do you think? Have you had "Mommy Brain" moments? Do you think "Mommy Brain" is real or an old wives' tale?

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Check out this week's fab features:

Sadder but Wiser Girl, Fly on the Wall
Left Brain Buddha, Mindful Parenting
Finding Ninee, Autism, Sometimes I'm not ready


  1. I have totally written a post about "mommy brain" on my blog before too! Ha ha ha. It is SO a real thing. I just can't remember a darn thing since become a parent.

  2. I love that I am not the only one who has to change to go out into public. Yes I dress in the morning. But it might not always be presentable to the society.

    Can we post funny parenting stories for this series?

  3. OMG I so have mommy brain, and I went back to work (part time, and most of that time can be at home, so maybe it doesn't count which is also why I go to the office when I don't need to - you know, to remember that it's TUESDAY and on Tuesday I go to the office?? I think???). Love this.
    And holy _____ I hope your research is correct that our brains are actually bigger, in the best of ways...

  4. I definitely have mommy brain moments. I think it is part of having the XY chromosome. I remember hearing my grandmother go through every family member's name (male AND female) when she was getting ready to lay down the law. I think it's just that we are so busy worrying and thinking of everything we have to do for this little person it means we don't have room for the unimportant.

    At least that is what I am telling my boss tomorrow about the e-mail I forgot to reply to :)

  5. I completely believe in mommy brain! I used to think it was pregnancy brain, but my youngest is 6 and I still have it! :-)

  6. My life is Mommy Brain. :-D I'm not laughing at you Rachel, I'm laughing because this makes me think of the stuff I do every day! Thanks for making me feel a little better!

  7. I lose my car keys almost every day and cannot count how many times I've been trying to get kids bum-rushed out the door, shouting "Where's my phone?" when the person on the other end says, "Um. in your're on it." in one way or another and don't even get me started on my glasses that are always on top of my head but I can never find them. True stories of Mommy Brain.

  8. I'm not sure if it's an actual "thing" that happens to our brain or if, like the study said, it's just a shifting of priorities...or simply being WAY busier than we ever thought we could be! All I know is that I carry around a post-it pad constantly so I can write down what I need to remember. No joke--although I actually did this well before I had kids, too. It works!

    I also had to stop by and tell you that your comment on my blog today made me laugh OUT LOUD. I'm not one of those people who just says "It made me laugh out loud," either. I mean it when I say I did it. The part about the friend's dad looking like a jackass because of the outfits was hilarious!! Thanks for the laugh tonight!

  9. I definitely have noticed a change in my ability remember simple things (such as that my keys are still in the ignition when I get out of the car...) since having children. I think it's just that parenting makes you crazy. I've embraced it!

    But I agree, "change of priorities" sounds so much better!

  10. I had this same convo in my head and googled it - found the same info you did. I also like the "change of priorities" verbiage. I do think that exhaustion has to play a part, too.


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