Mommy Brain :: A True Phenomenon And What To Do About It

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As a mom of two, I am ashamed to admit that pre-children when friends talked about “mommy brain”, I thought they were crazy. I never said this out loud and sincerely hope that I never conveyed this ignorant opinion, because I can now attest that “mommy brain” definitely exists.

When They Were Littles

Mommy Brain Sleep Challenges
Another cause of Mommy Brain…when this is the only way your baby (and you) gets any sleep!!!

At some point when my boys were younger (read: both in diapers), I realized that lists were my friend.  Without lists, we would be at the store EVERY DAY. Of course, having a list is not fool-proof. Sometimes, you forget to write something on the list, or you are so tired and distracted that you just plain miss something on your list. Then there are the days of major meltdowns so you just buy whatever is already in your cart and call it a day. I remember one time returning from a store run, dragging everything inside, and thinking, “Crap, I forgot tampons.” Couldn’t wait until the next week to buy those!

So, the next morning before story time, a trip to Walgreens was in order. As we drove past the library, DS asked why we had to go to the store. “Momma forgot to buy something yesterday.”

DS: “What?”

Me: “Something for Momma.”

DS: “What?”

Repeat response and question like 80 times.

As I pulled up to Walgreens, I told my oldest we needed to be quick in the store to make it to story time. He told me he wanted to stay in the car. I thought, “Would it really be that bad to leave the boys in the car while I run into the store to by tampons?” I mean, the amount of time it takes to get them both in and out of their seats is longer than the time it would take me to run into the store and make my purchase.

Instead, I told Austin he couldn’t stay in the car because Momma would get in trouble. That was a mistake…another slew of questions as we walked into the store. So we made it to the right aisle, and guess what was going on at Walgreens. It was the day to reorganize and stock the feminine hygiene product aisle. No joke, there were seriously boxes of tampons all over the floor of the aisle. The questions started again… What are those? Why do we need those? Etc, etc. At this point, as I was stepping over and around boxes of tampons while carrying a 25-pound 6-month old, I was thinking, “Seriously, how I remember anything is beyond me!”

Now That They Are Older

To the moms of littles, it does get a little better. Now that they are six and eight, although they still feel the need to announce every time they need to use the bathroom, for the most part, they handle the potty themselves. They get their own drink of water and buckle their own seat belts, but the contributing factors to mommy brain change. Now, it’s homeschooling, the constant questions about Ghost-Busters, the bombardment of stories about their Lego creations, AND remembering the names of their speech and occupational therapists, plus the dates and times of our weekly appointments, that combine to keep my mommy brain alive and well.

Because my boys have significant speech delays, they receive A LOT of services. Right now, there are five names to remember. Add the two student therapists from last semester that we pass in the hall, plus the speech therapist from last summer that we see in the waiting room, and that is eight faces I am matching to names multiple times a week.

After each session, I talk with these wonderful ladies who are helping my boys, and internally I am hoping I called them the correct name. I think the ladies close to my age get it, but I am sure the student therapists think I have totally lost it. I look at their young, wrinkle-free faces, and I’m sure they are thinking, This family has been coming here twice a week for almost ten weeks and she still isn’t sure if she called me the right name.

The Weight of Responsibility

During my college years, I worked in the student-taught daycare.  I am constantly thankful for the experience and knowledge of child development that I gained during that time. But, in no way did it prepare me for the 24/7 job of mothering. I could go to the bathroom without interruption and throw together a quick snack when I was hungry. Although I may have had periods of insomnia, I did not have little people waking me up at all hours to find their lost stuffed animals.

Yes, I took my responsibility for the children in my classroom very seriously, but only for the handful of hours they were with me each day. When the day was over, I was only responsible for myself. I wasn’t responsible for the people that those children would grow up to be. The weight of that responsibility is enough on its own to cloud your brain!

Remember: This is a season, and in all the craziness there is beauty.

Beauty in my mess: my view one morning while finishing the previous night’s dishes 

So if you find yourself in this season of overwhelm, exhaustion, and sometimes craziness, do what you can to feel more organized. Maybe it will be to purge all of your junk so you have less to manage, or perhaps you’ll find some great app to organize all of your thoughts and to-dos. But remember, this mothering thing is a BIG deal, and as you already know, it isn’t always easy. You are raising little humans, after all, so take a deep breath and cut yourself some slack.

Remember, this is a season. Your children won’t always be so small and needy. One day, before you know it, you’ll be able to again use the bathroom, and even shower, in peace. If you, like me, are a bit farther in your journey, remind yourself you won’t always be driving your kids for whatever services they need five days a week. One day, all of your hard work and devotion to your kiddos will pay off. But until that day, remember that life is messy and not always pretty, and you are human. So, take a deep breath and embrace the beauty in the mess, because it IS there.

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Amy, originally from Maryland, met her husband shortly after moving to Auburn for graduate school in 2000. The two have been together since first meeting, getting married in 2004, and now live in Chelsea with their two boys, ages 8 & 6. Amy's step-daughter, 19, is studying at Vanderbilt. Pre-kids, Amy worked in Property Management but quickly turned SAHM after the birth of her first child. The family manages multiple food allergies and Celiac Disease. Seeing a need for connection and support for local families living with food allergies, she started the local support group, The No Nuts Moms Group of Birmingham, a chapter of the national, No Nuts Moms Group. Amy also home-schools her sons, and is on a quest for organization and minimalism. She enjoys being in nature and camping trips with the family as well as reading and writing about all things motherhood.