Did Parenthood Steal My Brain?


Before I became a mom…well, let’s start it with pregnancy. Before I got pregnant…I was an organized person. I worked my way through college and always had a ton of things going on. I liked to be busy taking on new challenges and adventures. And I liked learning—reading everything I could get my hands on. I especially like systems. If something isn’t working well, I want to organize it, categorize it, label it (literally with a label maker) or solve it.  

And into my thirties, before pregnancy, these things worked well.

I mean, I only lost one student’s paper a year while I was a teacher for goodness sakes. I never turned in things late. I never missed appointments or forgot to reply to an e-mail. Sure, there was the occasional mix-up or misunderstanding, but it could be easily explained.

Then, I got pregnant.  

All of a sudden, I was forgetting things. Random things. Like that I was going to meet with a colleague or that I had already refilled the paper pile in the printer. I began to question things. Had I sent that e-mail? Had I sent those extra diapers to daycare? Where was that paper that I remembered bringing into my classroom? 

Still, I had hope that after I no longer had a newborn and wasn’t breastfeeding anymore, things would go back to normal. And they did improve. But my brain was never the same. It was like there was a permanent downshift one gear.  

So, I did the only thing I could do: I adapted.  

Stickies everywhere

I started writing down everything possible, mainly in the notes app on my phone since I couldn’t trust that I wouldn’t lose papers. I not only created lists for groceries or needed items, I created Christmas gift lists in January that I updated throughout the year. I made lists of passwords, lists of creative ideas that I had, and long term and short term to do lists. I kept records of when I made important phone calls. I left things out as reminders to myself to complete tasks.  

These things helped to partially close the gap. Well, that and not having a newborn anymore, am I right?  

But then a few years later, I got pregnant again, and I lost some more of my brain.

Was it the fact my body was creating another new human? Was it that I was getting so much less sleep? Was it that I was getting older while doing these things? I don’t know. I just know that I had to let a whole lot of things go. I could no longer have things done so far ahead of time. I could no longer get so frustrated with myself for forgetting something since I would then be frustrated much of the time. I would have to take it literally one day at a time.

And now? Now, I have no chance. 

After two pregnancies, with two kids at two different schools, a part-time job, a variety of volunteer roles, leadership in groups, keeping the house in working order, and all the things, there is literally a minus 1000% statistical chance of me not dropping the ball at least once a week if not once a day. I’m sure you can relate. All of my parent friends are doing a million things.

So, this is what I want to say to you dear precious one who gave of your very brain cells to bring life into this earth:

Even if your brain shifted down a few gears, you are doing a great job! 

The bad news is that it never all comes back. 

The good news is that some of it does, and that your loss is less than your gain. 

When those precious kids look at me and tell me that they love me, my brain doesn’t have to use a spreadsheet to know that the best parts of me are still here.

And do you know what else I’ve found? Grace. 

Grace with myself and with others. People are busy; people have a lot going on. Just because someone forgets something doesn’t mean that they’re a bad person or that they don’t care about me. Through losing some things, I’ve found so much more as the important things in life come into clearer focus. 

So, don’t fret or focus on what you’ve lost. Well, you can do that sometimes for sure. But don’t get stuck there. Instead, use all the brain cells that you have left and remember that you are so very loved.


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