Sunday, May 30, 2010

Mommy Brain

I think I might be losing my mind. Literally. I used to be able to sit down to write my feelings and have the words flow out of me.  Now it seems like I struggle with what I am feeling and finding the words to describe it.  I just started reading the book, "what mothers do: especially when it looks like nothing" by Naomi Stadlen and I have to say that I am only a few pages in and I have already connected to what she (and the mothers she interviewed) have to say.  Stadlen quotes the author, Susan Griffin, who talks about feeling inarticulate and worrying that people thought she was stupid.  I have always had some trouble recalling particular words in academic conversations, but now it seems to have transferred to my everyday conversations and I feel like a moron.  I end up using circumlocution to get the person I am talking with to help me come up with the word (and yes, I actually use the word circumlocution in my daily life as an ESL teacher...okay I used to use the word, but now I am a SAHM who is losing her academic vocabulary quickly). 

At some point during my pregnancy someone mentioned "mommy brain" to me as I struggled with a word during a conversation.  They promised that it would get better after the pregnancy...that once the baby was out, I wouldn't need to share those brain cells.  I thought that the woman telling me this was way off a bit off on the explanation for why I was feeling lost for words, but I definitely bought into the idea that being pregnant meant forgetfulness.  As time went on more and more moms told me about their "mommy brains" and that it, in fact,did not usually go away with the birth of their child. I guess it makes sense, new moms are sleep deprived and have little time to engage their brain in an academic way.  I was hoping I would be different... (silly, silly me)

So here I am with a blog that was intended to be a vehicle for me to share my thoughts on motherhood and life in general and it takes me flipping forever to write one post.  I sit down to write the post during my son's morning nap, but my brain isn't working right. I don't know what to say or how to describe what I am feeling and I end up typing and deleting, typing and deleting, typing and deleting. Now S is up and I get to be (actively engaged, computer away) Mom!  A couple hours later S is back down for another nap and I open my computer and start typing again.  I reread what I wrote earlier that day and end up editing or deleting much of it...second guessing my word choice, phrasing, and any attempt at humor.  At this point I start beating myself up for even thinking I should have a blog and that clearly I do not have the gift for writing nor have anything all that important or different to say.  I try to remind myself that I am writing this for me, not anyone else, and that the point is to get the emotion on the "paper" and out of my head.  At this point S is up and it is time to be Mom again.  I am so grateful that he is up because it means I get to have "permission" to not write. I usually don't return to my writing until after S is in bed for the night.  I am pretty clear on what I want to say at this point, despite some concerns that I am not nearly funny enough nor interesting enough to be a blogger, so I get the post finished and hit publish. 

So why do I put myself through this?  I do it because I really want to be a blogger...not to make money writing kind of blogger, but the kind that shares her heart with the world and connects with other people who feel the same way.  At the same time I want this blog to be a way for me to look back at my time as a mom and remember all the things I did with S and the emotions that came with them.  But deep down, I also want this blog because it is a mental challenge right now.  It is forcing me to use this brain of mine in a way that teaching did for me.  I am learning a new set of vocabulary.  I am forced to recall words that I would have used normally on a daily while teaching, but don't get used since I am spending most of my day talking with a 5 month old.  I am growing. 

So yes, I am losing my brain, but through this blog I will be gaining it back.

Mommy C


kris said...

You don't hear the word circumlocution enough, but I hear it put into practice all the time. As I search for a word, as my friends search for words, the words that used to be right HERE. Sigh. I don't know if it is Mommy-brain or what, but I hear you.

As for your writing?

If you are serious about just writing for yourself? Then stop with all the torture and the second guessing! Set a timer. Sit down and write.

And when the timer dings? Hit post.

Who cares???

Don't be scared of writing. Grab it by the throat and throttle it into submission.


Stop editing the words and trying to impress yourself with your choices. Just write.

Soon enough, you will impress the hell out of yourself.

Love you.

Mommy C said...

You are fabulous! I sat down to write after reading this comment and I started and finished in under an hour! That is definitely a record for me. Thanks for the advice!!

Mommy C

kris said...

I am so very proud of you!

And the post you wrote? It was terrific!

Kate Hayes said...

Hi there -

I'm another random mommy blogger who just stumbled onto this post, and I just had to tell you that so many of us feel exactly the same way. I just had to give up my career to move across the country for my husband's job, and YES, staying home with the kids all day can make you feel like you are losing your mind...or never had one to begin with. Just wait until you have two preschoolers and you feel like you have to talk in a disciplinary tone of voice ALL. DAY. LONG. Writing just helps to keep some of us sane...and blogging is the perfect vehicle to help us connect with others. Like you just did with me. And now hopefully we both feel a little less crazy.

Just remind yourself that yes, sometimes you will be particularly tired or your brain is busy putting together a shopping list or figuring out what's for dinner, and the writing will not flow as easily. It happens. But then there are also the times that you know exactly what to say and how to say it, and your fingers just can't keep up with your brain. It's a balance. Keep at it, and if you're like me, having this outlet will help you be a better mom.

By the way, I think you're a great writer! Glad I found this.

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