Mommy Brain – it’s just an excuse

Edited: Updated with link to a study by the APA about how brain size INCREASES in new mothers. That follows here: http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2010/10/mommy-brain.aspx. Brain size increases in the areas linked to behavior and motivation. A very small study, but take note.

First, a confession – I have used the excuse “mommy brain” because I forgot something or did something inexplicably boneheaded.

However, I vow to stop. It’s a stupid excuse. It doesn’t exactly portray women and mothers in a positive light, and the last thing we need is something else that devalues us.

For those of you not in the know, “mommy brain” is an alleged phenomenon that occurs once a woman becomes pregnant. She becomes more forgetful and sort of dreamy. I remember reading somewhere once that some organization did a study on the so-called “mommy brain” phenomenon, and they found absolutely no evidence of changes in the brain of pregnant women or new mothers. Please excuse my lack of details; I read it quite some time ago. I’m sure you can run a Google search on it, if you feel so inclined.

Here is the truth: priorities shift when you start growing people inside your body. Additionally, your brain is probably taxed, just as your whole body is, when you begin nourishing a little person or two. It’s really hard work, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And lest we forget, newborns don’t allow for much sleep. One of the first things that gets de-prioritized is holding everything in your brain simultaneously. I write more notes to myself now. Another thing that gets de-prioritized is multi-tasking. Let’s face it – you were never that good at it, anyway. Much better to execute task A then task B rather than try to mingle them and ending up fixing both later.

Interestingly, I’m much better at some things now that I’ve dropped the “mommy brain” excuse. As mentioned above, I write more notes to myself; I actually forget less than I did before, because I write things down now. I complete four or five tasks excellently every day rather than 10 or 12 shoddily. I am more productive overall. When I had resigned myself to the “mommy brain” excuse, I had no motivation to improve. It’s mommy brain! Can’t be helped! Once I determined to refuse that excuse, I had the freedom to improve. I still screw up now and again, but it’s because I’m human, not because I’ve become a poorer human by having children. On the whole, I am improving incrementally daily.

Let’s close by circling back to something I mentioned in the beginning. I think that the stereotypical slightly batty mother who wears “mom jeans” and is kind of clueless is – like all stereotypes – incredibly damaging. I’ve also not yet met this stereotypical mother. There’s no way to categorize all mothers, just like there’s no way to categorize all women or all men. I do know that I’ve met a lot of wonderfully strong women who are mothers, who are stylish and put-together, smart and well-educated, quick with a quip and comfort equally. Let us not be devalued or degraded by going along with this daft notion that we are somehow slower or dumber for having grown the next generation.

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