Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Confessions of a Fading Maternal Brain

Dear Children,
Last week I turned 47. Yes, I know – you both remembered and I thank you for that. And actually, that’s sort of what this is about – remembering.

You see, I’m pretty sure my mind is in a state of decline or depreciation, you might say. I have now reached that utterly cliché stage of life when I walk into a room and have no idea why. And just to add visions of my mother to my mind, I say out loud to myself: “Why did I come in here?” It’s quite humbling.

If that were the worst, that would be OK. It’s not. I have lapses. The other day, and I kid you not, I had a mild panic attack when I could not figure out how to properly write the number 4. In my mind, I kept flipping it back and forth, back and forth. All I could think was: “Oh crap. The end is near.”

I see people in the grocery store – people that I know. People that I have known for years. But dammit, I can’t remember their names. No wait, I do but it’s after I’ve driven out of the parking lot and I’m halfway home. And it drives me nuts.

Look, I’m pretty blessed in terms of health. I take care of myself. I avoid McDonald’s drive-through, have no interest in recreational drugs and am proud to have all my own teeth. (Except for those two molars, but those don’t count, right?)

The problem is, I’m not entirely sure that my mind is going to be in great condition forever. And what bugs me the most is the idea that you might write me off as just another loony mother-figure who can’t remember your name. Although that might be true, I want to write to you today and tell you that I wasn’t always this way.

(Oh and in case you were wondering, yes I've tried to do Sodoku and crossword puzzles and various mind games to sharpen my mental acuity. It works for about 5 minutes and then I get bored.)

In high school, where I was often overlooked and rarely popular, I used to know everyone’s name. I mean everyone. Not in a creepy-stalker kind of way, but more in the way that your friend’s little brother knows the entire lineup of the 1996 Green Bay Packers. Just loads of useless information that was never called upon except for my friends challenging me as we walked down the hall.

In college, I had pretty much honed that skill set to include teachers and influential people. After graduation, I knew everyone in every department of every company in which I was employed. Finally, I could put this mental lumber to use.

Then you came along. At first, my mind was still in tip-top shape. I remembered the important dates, your likes and dislikes, your friends, your teachers, your babysitters and even the characters in the inane TV shows and movies you watched repeatedly. I became your spare brain until yours could develop. And it did. And eventually, it eclipsed mine. And my brain was left standing by the side of the road, watching as your brain drove past.

I remember that like it was yesterday. You were in third grade. You got stuck on a math problem and asked for my help which I could not give because I apparently can't remember anything I was taught in 3rd grade. I didn’t let you know it then, but I knew that it wouldn’t be much longer until you were smarter than me.

I wasn't sure if this knowledge was reassuring or scary. More than anything, it was unavoidable.

In any case, here we are. One of you is in high school and the other is in college and I’m proud as hell of both of you. First, because you worked hard to get where you are and secondly, because that’s part of my brain you’ve got there. That’s right. It’s what we moms do. We sacrifice our bodies and our brains for you, our kids. We have no regrets, but we also have very few brain cells left after our work is done.

So I just want you to remember that when I’m shuffling into that crowded brunch buffet with you for Mother’s Day 2024 and I start telling that same story that I will be telling you repeatedly in the coming years and then I ask: “Why did we come here?”

Just remember, that someday that will be you too.



At 6:50 PM , Blogger kenju said...

I am grinning from ear to ear, because I am just like that. It doesn't get any better, unfirtunately. I remember my grandmom starting what was probably the 40th rendition of some story of hers, and my mom said..."Mom, you've told me that before." My grandmom glared at her and said..."And you're going to hear it again!!"

At 10:12 PM , Blogger Jennifer said...

I loved reading this!! I'm just 36 but have TERRIBLE Mommy-Brain! It gets worse, does it? Oy!
I've been reading down through some of your other posts, and I love your're so funny and friendly and comfortable to read...I will definitely be back!
Here from Michele's, and glad I came :)

At 9:25 PM , Blogger Carmi said...

Years ago, I watched an early Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan flick called Joe vs. the Volcano. It was a horrid film that did terribly at the box office. Yet for some reason, pieces of it refuse to leave my brain, including this one:

The title character, played by Mr. Hanks, was diagnosed early in the film with something called "Brain Cloud" - an always-fatal, rapidly degenerative disease. It sets the tone for the rest of the film.

Anyone who writes with a clarity even fractionally equal to yours can't be suffering from Brain Cloud. You're way sharper than I ever hope to be.

But, yes, I sometimes have moments where I wonder if I've got enough brain horsepower to tie my shoelaces. The fact that we can self-doubt is a good sign.

At 7:19 PM , Blogger Paul said...

I believe you took the words right outta my mouth. Heart? Mind? One of those things.

And speaking of useless information, you oughta stop by my blog. Just for fun.

Hope you have a memorable weekend.

At 12:17 AM , Blogger Colin Wee said...

Karen -

From what I remembered from Psych 101, the neural wiring gets more efficient when you get older. Older people are able to use their brains better (and differently) to younger people. But setting that aside, when you're dealing with a hectic schedule and have little time to recoup, your sleep debt hits you right away. Doesn't matter if you're 50 or 15.

BTW - you left a post on my blog and I thought it was from another one of my friends Karen who I just found again through facebook. I'm glad I didn't say anything stupid in my response.

I like your blog!



At 9:14 PM , Blogger Jess Riley said...

Happy belated birthday!!! Hope all is well in brewtown...I'm there alot lately, as my new nephew calls the city home. :)


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