Summary- The title pretty much says it all. This book looks into how motherhood changes the human brain and how we are actually improved by motherhood.
My rating- A
This book was a very fun and informative read.
I am a mother of twins and I feel as if I lost my ability to think when my daughters were born. I have a much harder time having a conversation and finding appropriate words. I also cannot remember appointments and for the first time in my life I have a calendar and lists that I am dependent on.
If all that wasn’t bad enough, I also had a really scary incident when my daughters were about 4 months old. I forgot what a blinking red traffic light meant. Absolutely forgot. I was driving home from work (I worked 3rd shift then) with my kids from the babysitters and there was a blinking red light (it probably was a regular light during the day. Where we live there are some traffic lights that become blinking red after 11 since there isn’t much traffic.) I looked at the light and I could not recognize what I was supposed to do. I knew it was something. But what? I ended up running it. Another car was approaching and they honked at us but luckily they were clear thinking enough to stop and let the frazzled mommy by.
“The Mommy Brain” acknowledges that those things are pretty normal (remember that next time you are in traffic ok).
The symptoms I was experiencing had/have more to do with exhaustion and a brain working at it’s limits then a sudden lack of intelligence.
When you become a parent your brain switches gear. You become less effective with the parts of your brain that are not as important to parenting your baby. But you also get major positive changes in the parts of your brain that will help with survival and care of your baby.
“The Mommy Brain” explores the positive changes in the brain. There are 5 areas particularly that are positively changed. They are: Perception, Efficiency, Resiliency, Motivation, and Emotional intelligence. There was a chapter devoted to each.
Efficiency and Motivation were the the chapters I could most relate to.
My boyfriend thinks I am lazy. I think I am efficient. Being a mom has helped me to look at what really has to be done. Not everything can get done sadly. I can’t remember the last time I dusted our bedroom. But, the kids always have clean clothes, clean dishes, prepared food, and an area to play that is free of hazards. If I spent my time sweating the smaller stuff (like dusting) I might not be able to give my kids the necessary stuff. So anything that isn’t truly important gets put down the list for days when I have more time. I also am able to spend my time more wisely. Here is what a typical day in my life is like:
5am- get up, dressed, lunch packed, and out the door in 15 min.
5:15-6:00- commute to work and listen to an audio book (one important aspect of improving the writing craft is reading. So while I am driving I am also studying)
6-7- Write. I sit in the cafeteria at work with my laptop and write as much as I can get done.
7-3:30- work (on a good day I can listen to an audio book during part of the day here as well.
3:30-4:45 commute home and listen to book.
4:45-6 -cooking, serving, eating, and basic cleanup after a meal. Also diaper changes and “hellos” with my kids.
6-8- this is the time I really get to spend with my kids. Some days we play or read. Some days we go to the park. Some days they watch television and I lay curled on the couch wishing it was bedtime.
8-8:30 bedtime preparation (bath, pajamas, teeth)
8:30- Kids go to bed. The rest of the night is mine! This is where I do whatever housework is a necessity, get my shower, some nights I get another hour of writing, and on really special days I may get 20 or 30 min to play a computer game or IM my brother or sister before I fall asleep from exhaustion between 10 and 11.
I am fairly sure that the above schedule is pretty much the same for all working moms. We are truly amazing when you consider how much we get done with so little time.
Motivation is tied to efficiency at least a little. Being a mother has changed my life. I am now 100% dedicated to making the best possible life for my kids. And that is a good thing because this life can be pretty hard and can really suck sometimes. I hate having to commute an hour each way to work. But the job pays good and has wonderful health insurance. I wish I didn’t have to work 40 hours a week. But I am the sole breadwinner for a family of 4. My boyfriend stays home with my kids (he does do some housework but as with many modern women the majority still falls to me). They have a loving parent who takes care of them consistently. For my kids that was important. We had tried daycare before but it wasn’t for us.
I think the biggest change I see with motivation in my life is that I am much more devoted to my writing. I AM a writer. I WILL make some money from my writings so I can provide for my family. It is a job. It is real to me. It is about taking care of my kids.
I had two years where I was a stay at home housewife and my husband was military. He was deployed almost half that time. I had plenty of time to write. But I didn’t. Not regularly. I wrote when the muse showed up. I wasted a lot of time. I played a lot of video games. I watched a lot of movies. It was no big deal. I just wasn’t motivated. Writing was a hobby. It wasn’t a job. Now I have children who I have to provide for. Now, I write a minimum of an hour a day whether the muse shows up or not. I write even when I am exhausted and bored and would rather do anything but.
I am sorry this was so long. This book really touched me on a very personal level. I really enjoyed it and saw much of myself in it. I believe this is a must read for new mothers. Especially ones that feel like they just lost the ability to access half their brain.