— Or maybe I’ve already lost my mind?!

So, I’m doing pretty well right now at maintaining the “mores” in my life, and I’m steadily working on my goals. The home organization projects are continuing (and being maintained), I’ve read 2 books already in 2012 (that’s a lot for me!); I have some volunteer opportunities in motion; I’m getting back in a regular exercise & yoga routine. Had a great date night with my husband and friends this weekend (lots fun and dancing!). I even managed to make (and keep) a hair appointment, and have lunch with my sister!  {Yo-God, Lunch date with my sister, and a haircut all in one day was like a mini-vacation all in 6 hours! Aaaahhh.}

The point here is that – for the time being – I’m managing to find a decent (though delicate) balance between my motherhood and the “mores” in my mind.

It’s my actual mind that I can’t seem to find. Or at least the part that remembers anything. Some recent examples of what I’m talking about:

  1.  I forgot that I had a pot of red beans cooking on the stove and burned them. Burned — As in, scorched beyond being able to salvage anything. (If you aren’t familiar with the Louisiana/Mississippi tradition of Monday Red Beans and Rice, you can find a good recipe here.)
  2. When trying to sign in for my Yo-God class (Yoga with purpose: an alternative to mind/body classes) and couldn’t find my name on the list. Turns out that the letter M – with which my last name starts – comes after the letter K. Momentary loss of alphabetical order.)
  3. I paid $20.00 for monthly fitness class, but when I logged my payment I wrote $2.00. It had to be pointed out to me by the kind lady that was standing next to me. (I guess that third zero was too much for my mind to handle.)
  4. I lost my sunglasses.. looked for them for at least 15 minutes ALL over the house, dumped out my purse, scoured the car, only to discover that I had actually put them in their case. Where they belong. And didn’t remember doing so.
  5. Forgetting that I put someone on hold to catch another line.. after hanging up the second call, the phone rings back to me and I act surprised, because I forgot that we had been on the phone in the first place.
  6. Conversations with friends have been a bit tricky lately, not due to lack of making it a priority, but more due to the fact that I  have trouble finding the right words and just blank out in the middle of a sentence while my brain tries to reach back and retrieve it.
  7. During a conversation with my husband about a potential volunteer position that would require me to give people tours, he (lovingly) giggled at me and asked if I thought I would be able to regain the ability to use complete and coherent sentences by then.

I’m sure there are many other examples (probably even better ones), but ironically, I can’t remember them. Yep. It’s bad.

I used to have a fairly high functioning brain. I was by no means MENSA – ever – but I was in the gifted program in my early school years, followed by Advanced Placement classes in high school. Although, I will readily admit that I was far too focused on social things and breezed right through school making B’s with little to no effort, so I doubt I impressed anyone as being overly intelligent at that stage in life, either. It’s a shame, really, that I didn’t use it while I had it, because it’s almost certainly gone now.

Over the last few years, I have developed a theory about why this happens. With each childbirth a piece of the brain is sucked out and a portion of the oxygen flow to the remaining brain is cut off. – So the kids did this to me, right? I seem to be on a roll lately with blaming them for things. –  The biggest hole in my “blame it on child-birth” theory is that my grandmother gave birth to 10 children, worked as a pharmacist, owned and ran her own business 7 days a week**, and still managed to speak in intelligent/coherent sentences. I’m certain there were many times in her motherhood that she “lost it”. Maybe even daily. However, when the kids were grown and on their own, and I was in the picture, she always came across as an intelligent, well-informed woman. – So, maybe by the time the kids are out on their own our brains will recover?!  At least, partially? If indeed we are able to recover some of the function in our minds when the kids are grown and gone***, then maybe I am wrong in blaming it on child-birth.

If it is a temporary state (which I hope and pray is the case), possibly the root of the problem is steeped in something else. – Perhaps, it’s overload. We’re overloaded. — Trying to remember the multitude of daily action items and planning ahead, even just the items for the kids.. well, it’s exhausting and overloading our brains.   Add on trying to fit in the “mores” into your motherhood’s massive and constant to-do list; something’s got to give. Apparently, for me, it was my ability to remember to zip my pants, call my kids by the right name, and how to spell my own.

– And have you ever noticed that the Dads, even the best and most involved of them, don’t seem to have this problem? What is that? Not fair.

I had a conversation with my husband and a friend of his along this subject a while back. We sat peacefully in the living room while all 3 kids were out and about playing with friends in the neighborhood. We were in the midst of a real, deep and philosophical conversation. It occurred to me that I almost NEVER get to have conversations like that… and moreover, that they regularly do. It also occurred to me that they were sitting there able to throw their whole mind into that conversation without another thought in the world. And that they had probably been able to think about the topics we were covering before and actually form an opinion based on something other than an initial reaction.

As for me? Not so much. I shared with them that while we are sitting and talking, my brain is also running a million other thoughts through it. It didn’t seem fair that I didn’t have the luxury of turning the rest of the world off. “Because if I did, who would be concerned with the fact that the 7 year old (who has no boundaries and very little impulse control) was running around between the neighbor’s trampoline and the pond, and I needed to be watching and listening. And where is the oldest who rode his bike down to the basketball court with friends? Should I be checking on his whereabouts? And is the third one over-staying her welcome at a friend’s house? And what activities do the kids have tomorrow that will require me to make sure that a uniform is clean? Did I sign everyone’s school planners on Friday and am I supposed to be sending anything in to school tomorrow that will need preparation? And what am I going to feed this house full of people tonight? And tomorrow is grocery day; I haven’t made a list.. do we need toilet paper…”  with each additional item that came out of my mouth their mouths fell open a little more. When I was finished with the list (can it really ever be finished?) my husband’s best friend looked at me with a bewildered expression and said, “You’re really thinking about ALL of that?! Right now? All at once?”

Yes. All of it. All the time. No wonder my brain pushes out the simple things like an insignificant little zero. And it’s this way for Moms everywhere.  (Or at least I like to think so. If it’s not, please don’t tell me.)

A little while back I was in a class at church, and the presenter was telling us about a book,  Men Are Like Waffles–Women Are Like Spaghetti: Understanding and Delighting in Your Differences by a husband and wife team. I have to admit that I have yet to actually read the book myself, so I can’t tell you what this whole “delighting in our differences” business is, but in the brief overview of the book I did gain some valuable understanding of the difference.

The premise of the book is that a man’s brain is very much like a waffle with individual boxes or compartments. In each square of the waffle is ONE and only ONE thing. (Can you imagine that, ladies?!) Each square has little walls like a waffle’s squares, so nothing can seep over into another square. Everything is compartmentalized.

They have a square for work and a square for tinkering in the garage and a square for the TV remote and a square for the house budget. They have a square for each of their emotions/feeling and a square for each of their hobbies and a square for sex (I would bet there are multiple sex squares.. maybe even, every other one), and actually even a square for nothing.

They can actually sit in their “nothing” square and think of nothing. So when they look all lost in some deep thought, and we look at them wonder what is going on in their minds, then ask and get the answer “nothing”… well, while we can’t believe that this could be true, it might actually be the case!?!  All the many times I’ve gotten my feelings hurt and felt that he didn’t want to share his feelings with me.. and all along he really COULD have been thinking about nothing?!   Huh.

On the flip side, this book’s theory maintains that us girls.. well, we have a big blob of over cooked and sticky spaghetti  in our heads. Each strand for one thing, but all intertwined and impossible to separate without tearing it all up. It’s all connected. With buttery glue. And Parmesan cheese.  And extremely difficult to separate. And I would bet there isn’t a single spaghetti noodle for “nothing”.  – The book surmises that this is why we are typically better at multi-tasking than men.  (Overview of the book found here.)

I surmise from this that the most used spaghetti strands are the ones that grow the longest/strongest and have begun to strangle the lesser used  (or lesser significant) ones.. you know the ones that remember that there are three zeros in $20.00 or that M comes after K in the alphabet.

While admittedly, I’m a huge pasta fiend, I wouldn’t mind having a little more waffle in my life – and my head. Waffles are good. Especially all drowning in syrup. (See, even waffles aren’t just waffles in a woman’s brain.)

* Please tell me I’m not wrong in my assumption that this is normal for a ~40 year old mom who is beginning mental-pause!?

** Along with my grandfather, who would tell anyone who would listen that she was the brains and the muscle behind their business. He was the smiling face behind the counter.

*** I will not be sad. I will not be sad. Repeat it with me and just maybe it will be true. I will NOT be sad.