I wish I had better news for new moms. But the truth is that the mommy brain fog, while it lifts after the newborn weeks, does not ever fully clear. I have never been more certain of it. When I first wrote about mommy brain, I was hopeful it would be gone by now. It’s not.
On Monday, I took dinner to my boss because his wife just had their third child, and somehow we got on the topic of mommy brain. He said, “My wife just says she feels like she’s gotten so dumb.” I said, “I know exactly how she feels, and I wish I could say it gets better, but it never goes away.” Case in point: later that night when I was getting things out of my trunk I found the baby gift I had bought for them still in my trunk. The irony is I put it there a week earlier so I wouldn’t forget it on the morning I was driving into the office to take them food.
Let me be clear: mommy brain makes you feel stupid in the early weeks after giving birth. But what remains after that is a forgetfulness. It’s looking for your keys while you’re holding them. It’s driving off with your cup of coffee on your roof. It’s going to the grocery store for peanut butter and arriving home with two full bags and no peanut butter. (These are all things I’ve done.) And the forgetfulness is directly proportional to how many things you are tracking in your brain. The busier you are and the less sleep you get, the more forgetful. So since the past two weeks have been pretty full, I did something yesterday that I would have never thought possible.
I decided to call my dad while in the carpool line waiting for Zach. I was relaying all the details about the stains on our basement carpet when I pulled out of the school parking lot and, while waiting at the light, heard Ethan interrupt my conversation with, “Mom, did we get Zach?” I started responding, “Ye … ” as I turned my head and realized Zach was not in the car. I said, “Dad, I gotta go, I have to focus, I just drove through the carpool line without getting Zach.” I wondered how I managed to forget my kid when I didn’t really forget my kid. I was there, just not “all there.” The car in front of me was the last to get a kid in the group ahead of me, so as it drove off with its child, I just followed it out of the lot without stopping as the first car in my group. This could happen to anyone, right?
Then I started thinking about how I needed to take this as a real warning that I simply have too much going on and I need to focus on each moment and the task at-hand without trying to multitask. But it didn’t take long for me to forget the lesson I had just learned, because about an hour later I was driving to an appointment while making another one on the phone and I missed my exit on the highway, making me late.
As I pulled up at home last night, I was laughing at my day as I got out of the car. Greg pulled up and I told him, “I’m laughing about how I left Zach at school.” He pointed at my van and said, “You left your lights on.” I realized then that my brain was trying to tell my body something. So I went to bed early, and though I slept longer than usual, I know there are forgetful things I did today as well, I just can’t remember what they are right now. And I have come full circle … so if you’re a new mom, don’t let the mommy brain bother you. Embrace it, because you’re going to have it forever.