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Mommy Brain Revisited

Oh dear. I have blogged before about motherhood’s effect on brain cells. At the time, I was alarmed to realize that my recall and memory were not what they were pre-Simon, and I looked forward to the day when my old brain returned to me.

Now I fear my brain is worse off than ever, and this time I can’t blame the boy. In fact, I can see now in hindsight that the early days of motherhood—those super-intense days—afforded me a luxury to think big thoughts even if my memory was shot. The thing about being glued to a nursing chair for 8 hours a day (minimum), is that you have a lot of time to listen to quality radio programming.

When I think back to all the programs I followed: Morning Edition, All Things Considered BBC World Service, Day to Day, Fresh Air, Talk of the Nation, Diane Rehm, etc., I realize I was—for a few months at least—astonishingly well informed.

Now I have a son who nurses only twice a day and who can play by himself quite a bit. So I should be back in fighting shape. If only! Instead, I realize that I have to be ever vigilant with Simon lest he pull something over, scoot where he shouldn’t, etc. And so, while I have more time to myself cumulatively, little of it comes in large blocks. By the end of the day, I am so used to my new state of Continuous Partial Attention (CPA, and props to colleague Mark Taub for introducing me to this term) that the effects linger even after their cause is peacefully slumbering.

In my new, motherhood-induced ADD state, I find that my brain is scattered like buckshot most of the time. I can’t read anything longer than 40 pages. I have trouble watching anything longer than 30 minutes. And I’m distracted all the while.

How bad has it gotten? Confession time. After reading a bit of Salon last night and then failing to make it all the way through a cousin’s article I promised to edit, I resorted to some TV time. Started out watching Miami Ink to see if I could get past my extreme tattoo revulsion, and when that failed flipped over to Bravo, where something called “The Real Housewives of Orange County” was playing, a show that surely rots one’s brain even as it sucks out your soul. I was riveted in a train-wreck sort of way.

Then I realized that if I didn’t turn away quickly, I would either become someone who watches this show regularly (bad) or match the intellects of its bleached and botoxed “stars” (worse). On the one hand, it was scary to see how far I’ve fallen, but then I was oddly reassured to see how much worse things could get.

Thus inspired, I think tonight I’ll pick up Jeffrey Toobin’s The Nine and take a crack at sustained non-fiction. Just as soon as “Project Runway” is over that is.

One Response to “Mommy Brain Revisited”

  1. Katherine says:

    If it’s any consolation I realise that since having Thomas we have obsessively watched the following TV programs and highly recommend them all:

    Lost (the first season only …)
    The Tudors
    The Sopranos
    Six Feet Under
    The Office
    Life on Mars

    I watch Desperate Housewives and Tony watches Curb your Enthusiasm.

    Since having Thomas I think that I have managed to watch about 5 films and I can’t remember any of them!

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