It was a slow and steady decline. One by one, my marbles went missing, until almost without warning I found myself standing in the middle of piles of laundry one night, clutching a cat that had gotten outside and was covered in an unrecognizable green dye, while my children screamed at each other from behind me. I had a brief moment of conscious thought before the dog bounded in after the cat, who scratched his way free and lept onto the turtle’s cage, nearly knocking over the fish tank. Weeks later, as I lay in bed trying to remember where I put my purse, I realized that mommy brain had replaced the careful organization and planning that were once a part of my daily life.
You might have mommy brain if:
- … you are still dating your checks 2008.
- … you have told your children “Thank Goodness it’s Friday” only to hear the response “Mom, it’s THURSDAY!”
- … you have tried to check in at the pediatrician’s office and are asked for your child’s date of birth. “Try again,” the receptionist has chirped after your second attempt to get the year right.
- … you count your children in your head when you are out with them to make sure no one gets lost. 1-2-3-4-5, 1-2-3-4-5 …. Then when someone asks you how many children you have, you need to think a minute. Five sounds like such a big number.
- … you are proud to make it to preschool with your daughter on time at 8:30 every day for a month. Then the preschool teacher pulls you aside and asks you if you realize that school starts at 8:15.
- … you sign up to drive ¼ of your son’s sixth grade class to Barnes and Noble to buy Toys for Tots with money that they have earned. You talk about it multiple times with your son and put it on the calendar in your cell phone. As you are stepping into the shower on a Monday morning, your phone rings: “Mom, are you coming?”. I promise you that no children were harmed in the making of this story. Though admittedly, I was 15 minutes late and showed up in my grubby sweats, I made up for it by treating my bunch to hot chocolate. The only person really hurt was me. Fortunately, I was able to recount my failures again and again to my therapist. She’s in therapy. What self-respecting mom isn’t? But hey … thank goodness mine has appointments available the same day and time each week or we know how that would go!
- … to celebrate the five year mark of your diagnosis with cancer (and your survival), you decide to join the preschool class in their bell ringing for the Salvation Army at 9:30am on a Saturday morning. At 6pm that evening, as you are leaving the grocery store, you remember that you … forgot.
- … you have gone from furiously writing notes in the margins of a book you are reading before a book club meeting, to reading the Cliffs Notes, to distracting from the fact that you don’t even know what books are being read by talking about the dessert.
- … you have to turn around after driving to the grocery store because you realize that you forgot to put your pants on over your long johns (not that anyone would be surprised if you went on in though).
- …your keys are attached to a chain that is secured to the ash tray in your van, so that you don’t lose them … again.
My children’s teachers are now all bobbing their heads in a collective rendition of the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Come on. You all knew there had to be a reason that I patiently bring my children their forgotten lunches and instruments. I attached gloves to all of my children’s coats this winter and then didn’t even freak out when my 16 year old actually lost his coat with gloves attached … on the first day that he wore it. I am empathetic to their struggle to keep it all together, and besides mommy brain, I also suffer from a healthy dose of mommy guilt.
For years, I have listened half-heartedly to the well-meaning advice doled out by family and friends who only want to help me to achieve a calmer sense of control over the chaos in our lives. This year, I am accepting all helpful ideas for getting organized. If you have any suggestions for this weary mom, please call me. Leave a message after the beep. When I find my cell phone, I’ll call you back.
Published in the St. Cloud Times