If you aren’t careful, the first year of motherhood can be surprisingly isolating. Between multiple feedings, two to three naps, bath time, tummy time, and getting your child to bed, there’s really not a lot of time left to socialize with people of the adult persuasion. And when getting out of the house means packing up and carrying around a diaper bag roughly twice the size and weight of the actual baby, you begin to wonder if it’s even worth the trouble.
However, I was determined to at least try to interact with other mothers. So I hoisted my baby and super-sized diaper bag to attend a local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting. The coordinator closed the meeting with a prayer and then said, in her friendly Texas accent, “Bye! See y’all next time.” I was sitting in the front row with forty other grown women, but I found myself holding both hands up next to my face, opening and closing my palms, saying “Bye Byeeee” in cute baby talk. The coordinator, a mom of three kids herself, laughed. “Rachel, sounds like you desperately need a Moms’ Night Out.”
Mommy Brain makes you indeed wonder, Am I slowly getting dumber? Can I even make intelligible conversation with human beings who are taller than two feet anymore?
I went to heat up a bowl of spicy butternut squash soup one afternoon. In some sort of out-of-body auto-pilot mode, I went to the fridge, grabbed the soup, poured a bowl, heated it in the microwave, and set it aside to cool. Then, without batting an eye, I grabbed another bowl, filled it with another serving of soup, microwaved it for 60 seconds, set it on the counter, looked down, and realized I had just served myself two warm bowls of creamy soup.
My mom has done things like this as long as I can remember. Growing up, it was almost habit, before putting my Hot Pocket in the microwave, to remove the cup of cold coffee or tea she had reheated and promptly forgotten about. Though my Granny, her mother, insists that my mom was always a bit messy, ditzy, and forgetful, I now wondered if motherhood was actually the source of her scattered brain. As her daughter, I feared pregnancy and birth had activated in me some latent gene, the same one that made my mom absently throw her keys in the trash, or drive 20 miles an hour on the highway as cars zoom by her, completely unaware of her crawling speed.
In an attempt to stave off this gene, I’m learning to give myself a little time — sans baby — now and again. Without “Mommy’s Time Out,” as I call it, my brain just doesn’t work right. It’s like a computer on overload that begins working slow and wonky. All it needs is some time to shut down, and then it can go back to solving high functioning problems like Just where did I put that pacifier? or On which side did I last nurse?
Excerpt from We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook: A Mom andDaughter Dish About the Food that Delights Them and the Love that Binds Them by Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph. Used with permission.