Working Through Mommy Brain

My pals at LiberatingWorkingMoms recently wrote about “mommy brain” and it sparked some reflection on my part about how my pregnancy and now everlasting mommy brain has impacted my work. Overall, it’s been a good thing if you don’t count the really stupid stuff I’ve done.

If you want to get all scientific about it, there is a great book by Katherine Ellison called The Mommy Brain that makes the argument that women can actually get smarter as a result of having children. So I guess the Octomom is a genius?!?

I agree with the concepts that Ellison lays out. Here’s a quote from her website:

Q: In what ways do women get smarter as mothers?A: In the book, I outline the ways, some of which are more distinct early on, and some of which develop over time. They are sensory perceptions—smell, sight, hearing and touch—efficiency, resiliency, motivation and social skills, also known as emotional intelligence. The way that mothers get better in all these capacities involves the influence of hormones, the sheer mental stimulation of dealing with the challenges presented by children, and practice in certain behaviors which can change the brain, something known as brain plasticity.

Ok, so there’s scientific proof that I’m smarter now that I’m a mom. So why is it that I’m so forgetful now and can’t keep my train of thought? Probably because I’ve got a heightened sense of responsibility for my family and I’ve got the capacity to think about multiple things at once. This post from The Daily Beast highlights that oh-so-fuzzy feeling you get while you’re expecting may actually be preparation for the new skills you’ll need as a mom. This fuzzy feeling was probably best reflected at work in meeting notes I was scribbling at about the six month mark. I remember several lined notebook pages so full of doodles and words like “baby”, “car seat”, “Sonic Cherry Limeade” written over and over and over again and shoved into every nook and cranny of white space I could find. When the meeting leader would ask me “What do you think?” my answer was usually “Uh-huh” which inevitably got me volunteered for everything. I guess in a strangely ironic way, it may have looked to others that I was really committed to the job (until they saw my doodles).

So I’ve been done with pregnancy for 7 years now. Is my brain improved? I think so but I still forget a lot. My husband is the king of post-it notes and lists so I secretly sneak peeks at what I’m supposed to remember to do. I am usually pretty good at remembering the work stuff – especially since I get a paycheck that rewards me for doing my job.  Unfortunately it seems to be the family stuff that slips – maybe if they gave me a paycheck I’d be better at remembering? Lame.  On the positive end, I can multi-task like a champ and since I’ve branded myself as a “creative-type” I get away with a lot of things that someone who’s supposed to be organized would be chastised for.

Wait, what is this post about? Oh yeah, mommy brain. So as I wrap up I just want to encourage you that if the dumb stuff you’re doing doesn’t endanger yourself, your child or others, it’s probably pretty harmless and you just need to give yourself some grace. Take some time to reflect on your new skills as a mom and relate them to how you can use them in your job. I think you’ll be pretty impressed with your new mommy brain and just how powerful it’s grown to be.


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