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Is There Such a Thing as Permanent Mommy Brain?

Posted Dec 12 2012 6:56am

Do you ever have some days when you think, “Wow, I am really losing it”? I’ve been having those moments more and more frequently. Consider the following:

  • Two weeks ago, I had to fill in for a traveling Dr.G. by bringing Buddy to the bus stop. I decided to save time by dropping Mimi off at daycare first, then circle back home for the bus. Except that didn’t happen. After dropping her off, I switched into auto-pilot mode, and jumped on the highway to head to work. In the exact opposite direction of our house. With Buddy still in the backseat, eating his breakfast, totally oblivious. It took me about two exits to realize what I had done. By some miracle, we still made the bus.
  • My husband will tell me something that I swear I haven’t heard before, and he’ll get this annoyed look on his face that clearly says, “Um, seriously? I’ve mentioned this to you five times before.” Oh, who am I kidding. He usually says that part out loud … and he’s usually right.
  • I dropped Buddy off with my neighbor one morning before school, and I was nearly at work when she called to ask if I knew where his backpack was. I turned around. Yup, there it was, in the back of my car … 30 miles from home.
  • During the second week of school, I forgot to pack Buddy’s lunch. Way to make a good impression with the teacher.
  • I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve arrived at the grocery store to find that I left my list at home.
  • We had just gotten unpacked at our beach house on Cape Cod this summer when I realized I left my ulcerative colitis medication – medication I have to take – two hours away at home. The local pharmacy wasn’t able to fill the prescription, so my incredible hubs jumped in the car and drove home to get it for me. This one really kills me; in 10 years of taking my medication, I’ve never once forgotten my meds when we’ve traveled.

These are just a few of many, many examples of my absentmindedness. There have also been unlocked doors, forgotten birthdays, missed appointments and trailing off mid-sentence, completely forgetting my train of thought.

Here’s the best analogy I can come up with: my brain is kind of like a DVR. Do you ever get those warnings that your DVR is at 95% capacity? That’s how I feel most days … that my brain is at maximum capacity.

I make light of it here, but I have always prided myself on being conscientious and responsible, so these slip-ups don’t sit well with me. Now Dr. G. is heading out again for another work trip, which means I need to take over his usual karate class and bus stop duties for a few days, in addition to being the only “responsible adult” at home. And for the first time – in spite of all of his business trips the last five years – I’m a little nervous. The most recent incident with Buddy in the back of the car really shook me (even though I do poke fun about it) because it got me playing the “what if” game.

What if I forget to pick one of the kids up? What if I had unknowingly brought Buddy to work with me? What if I leave the dog out all night? (Oh, yeah, I’ve already done that … poor girl … still feeling incredibly guilty about that one). What if I leave the iron/coffee maker/flat iron on? What if something more serious happens?

I thought that my memory would improve as Mimi got older; I assumed my forgetfulness was the typical post-newborn “mommy brain.” But instead it feels like it’s gotten worse, and I don’t know why. Is it simply a result of having two kids, along with juggling work and all the other things we have going on? Or is it because I’m getting older? Am I not getting enough sleep? All of the above?

All I know is that I use Post-Its, iPhone calendar reminders, our white board in the kitchen, you name it, but things are still slipping through the cracks. Yet on the flip side, I remember all the lyrics to horrible mid-90s songs like “Rump Shaker” and can recite early episodes of “Beverly Hills, 90210.”

Hmm, maybe having kids short circuits your short term memory?

OK, readers, please tell me I’m not alone in this, right? Anyone have any good tips for battling “mommy brain”?


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