Mommy Brain Manifesto

We’ve all heard it.  It’s a very popular phrase right now and wherever two or three mothers are gathered, it will come into use. “Mommy brain!” we laugh with the newly pregnant mama who forgets her car keys leaving her own baby shower. “Mommy brain!” we sigh at each other over cups of coffee. “Mommy brain,” we mutter to ourselves, shaking our heads at another thing neglected. “Mommy brain,” we whisper as that voice loudly declares us unworthy of friendship because of the one mistake we made or the obvious judgement coming from the playground mothers.

It’s more than distractedness. I am talking about more than simple forgetfulness, although that forgetfulness is often the first symptom. When we go through great trauma our brain chemistry changes.  For most mothers, that trauma happens at a very definite point. Whether or not you actually gave birth to them, the moment you had that child in your arms, they moved into your heart, your brain, and your body, literally changing your brain chemistry.  A piece of your brain was switched on, while other bits were switched off. Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of a mommy brain.

The mommy brain can be a weakness, in a lot of ways. It’s the little voice/part inside of you who apologizes for being too neurotic, too paranoid, too needy, too much in general. It’s the part of you that forgets where she was going because so much of her brain is now taken up with children. It’s the large loud bit of you the gets left behind and neglected in the rough and unending work of taking care of tiny helpless humans who need you more than you need yourself.  It’s all the mental things that get piled up and neglected because you are now the mental/emotional core for these tiny little humans who can’t do for themselves.

I see you. I see that part of you. It’s in all of us. We are all of us an army of busy, hungry, neurotic mamas. That mean old part of you will try to keep you solo, cut off from others like you. It will bury you into inadequacies and failures. It’s the darker side of motherhood: the loneliness of self-reliance and adulthood. Don’t give into it.

You don’t have to go solo and you don’t have to neglect that part of yourself. Just as moms of multiples have learned the world over, love makes room for more love. When you don’t have enough in you to care for yourself, I’m reaching for you, mama. Can you feel me? I have a mommy brain too. I’m inadequate often. I fail. I feel worthless and silly and sad sometimes. To be honest, a lot of the time. Reach back to me. We’ve been there, you and I, and we will go there again. We’ve all been there.

What thing do we have in common? Those feelings. This passion. Our life’s work. Our children. Our motherhood. We can be against each other. We can glare at each other and race for the better parking spot, revving our engines while our children squeal in the back seat. You can hiss and sigh at my darling angel who just flung sand at your darling angel. I can police your kids with indifferent justice. We can do those things, and we would be letting that mean part of ourselves win. When you feel bad inside, it feels a tiny bit better to make everyone around feel just as bad.

Or we can fit together, and partner with each other. For a day, a season, or a lifetime of friendship. I’ll get your grocery cart if you help buckle my kiddo in the car. I’ll hold your toddler while you wrap your baby in the carrier. It’s motherhood with grace, compassion, and passion – not just for our children, but for everyone walking this trail with us.

Let your mommy brain unite with mine, and we will do our inner work together, hand in hand.

This new section of stephlenox.com will be a place for different mommy voices to speak about the joys and sorrows brought about by that new little spot on your mind: this is your Mommy Brain.

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Ori is a wife and mother, and a writer of the amateur bent. She has written two books so far and is hard at work on her third, in between wrangling kiddos and musing about motherhood in general.

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