I could blame all of this on the fog of my head cold but, honestly, the cold accounts for less than 5% of this—I don’t know—thing that happens to my brain. It’s been happening since I had children and its official name is Mother Brain. A friend of mine has the best description of this state of mind (or non-mind, as the case may be): It’s as if your brain is in a remote fishing village—and they don’t have a phone. My village has a phone but the connection and reception is periodic, unpredictable and unreliable. There may be extreme static even when they do get through with messages from my brain.
Once you become a Mother, your brain never feels the same again. At times it’s foggy, forgetful, in the clouds, fragmented. At first, it’s purely from newborn-exhaustion that, time of life with a baby when you are awake and asleep at all times of the day and night and the distinction between the two blurs.
When Levi was 11 days old, I went into a paper store to buy paper for our birth announcements. I was familiar with the clerk there. When I checked out with my supplies, she asked, “Aren’t you glad it’s Friday?” I realized that I had absolutely no idea what day it was or what time of day it was. It could have been midnight on Saturday for all I knew.
The newborn days pass and you start getting more sleep but your child’s needs change and grow and perhaps you have another child. You then start living in a constant state of multi-tasking. Sometimes my life feels like one of those “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” books where one things leads to another and another and another. The difference between those books and my life is that those stories ultimately lead in a full circle back to the circumstance that started the chain of events. Often, I never remember exactly what started it all.
So, yesterday I had a severe case of Mother Brain and I fear that I should not be left home alone with small children (not really but you know how this goes). So first, I left a burner on when I put the oatmeal into the bowls and discovered it a half-hour later. Thank goodness for those lights on my stovetop that tell me something is still hot. Oliver asked me to unwrap a cheese stick for him. I peeled the wrapper, threw it in the trash and handed him the cheese stick. A moment later, he gave me a puzzled look and asked, “Where’s my cheese stick?” I looked at him to see that he was holding the wrapper and that I had thrown the cheese stick into the trash.
Trying to get stuff done around the house, I put some clothes into the washer. That reminded me that there was a basket of laundry upstairs that still needed to be put away. I put these away and saw that there were some books in Levi’s room that needed to go back to the library so I stacked those at the top of the stairs. Then the kids needed help with something downstairs. Down I go, solve that problem . . . Now, what was I doing? Oh yea, getting stuff together for errands this afternoon.
We leave for errands with my list (almost left behind), the library books to be returned, and the video that is only a 2-day rental and must be returned today. We do our first errand, no problem. Now to the video store. I manage to drive right by it. I turn around, look for the DVD and can’t find it anywhere (and, yes, I am SURE it was in the car)—not in the bags holding the errand “stuff,” not in the pockets on the door, not under the seat, not anywhere on the floor board. Now I am totally stymied. Where is it? It’s now the next day and I still haven’t found it. I’m guessing it fell out of the car when I opened the door on a previous errand(?)! I’m feeling very crazy.
We get home from doing our errands and I realize I still haven’t called our mortgage company for the missing interest statement (it’s tax time), Levi needs his fingernails cut, the kitchen is a mess and the dishwasher needs to be unloaded. The dog and kids want to be fed. I do manage to call the library to sign up for a kids program later in the week, only to find out I waited too long and it’s full. The things that remain to be done are folding the laundry, responding to some not-optional-to-not-reply emails, pay some bills, clean up the materials from the craft we made from recycled materials, more tax stuff, wrap a book for mailing, make a list of things to be done for the kids’ birthday party this weekend, figure out some activities to feed Levi’s new interest in Earth Sciences , . . . . Shall I go on or are you sufficiently exhausted by now? Did I mention that the trash needs to be taken to the end of our very long driveway? (And that I forgot and now we have a week’s worth of trash in our trash can and no where to put this week’s trash?) Or that my husband will be out of town for the week?
Happily, my mother brain is getting a rest as I write this while sitting ALONE in Starbuck’s.