It's the beginning of a brand new year, a time for resolving to do things differently, to do things better. In my case, it's a resolution to do SOMETHING. Particularly, something to do with my brain. You see, as a high school Drama and English teacher, I've always used my brain in a fairly intense way, relying on it for its ability to juggle many things at once (marking, lesson planning, meetings, etc..), its talent for memorising things (a game of Memory, anyone?), its ability to generally help me operate in the world in an articulate way.
And then I had a baby.
Now, I've never been one to subscribe to the baby-brain theory (or placenta-brain, or pregnancy-brain) that says once you've brought a life into the world, you're intelligence faculties simply give up the ghost. But after becoming a mummy for the first time 10 months ago, and being on leave since a few months before that, I now know baby-brain is the real deal - in my case anyway. Let's explore pre-baby and post-baby life in the form of a helpful table:
| Pre-baby || Post-baby |
Excellent photographic memory. I could quote a passage from a novel to you, then tell you which side of the book it was on (ie. left or right) and approximately how far down the page it was located.
Excellent vocabulary. Spelling fanatic. (I get cooler by the minute, huh?)
Tell me a birthday or a phone number once and I'll never forget it.
My mind is a thick, soupy brine that has images, words, ideas, and thoughts all mixed up; sometimes I'm not sure if I'm remembering something that happened, or if I dreamt it, or if it was in a movie I saw.
Vocabu... huh? I'm thinking of a word for that thing you do when you don't remember anything anymore. Starts with an F. Oh, bugger it. I can't remember.
Okay, what's the number for the Thai take-away place we've been ordering from for 5 years? Let's look it up online. 3333 3333. Repeat in head till I get to the phone. 3333 3333. Quick, it's on the way out! Pick up phone, dial 3333 33... oh dammit! Too late!
But you know what? It's not all bad. Actually, this new state of forgetfulness lends a fairly dreamy quality to my life, a dreaminess that helps me forget that I didn't get more than 2 hours sleep in a row last night, or that I was annoyed with someone for some reason that probably didn't really matter anyway. And all the mental space I have now (cue tumbleweed blowing across desert plain), and the energy that used to be utilised in the left-hemisphere of my brain has found its way into other parts of my brain more needed in mummying. Like reflexes. The other day, while making a cake, dearest daughter was playing with the plastic ware on the floor beside me. Over-exuberant in her playing, she began to topple over and without even thinking, I shot my right leg out and caught her. Or multi-tasking. I can be cooking dinner (there's a cooking theme emerging, isn't there?), watching darling daughter play nearby, answer the phone, carry on a conversation with my husband, put on a load of washing AND check my email, all simultaneously.
Perhaps most importantly, I find myself open as a mummy - emotionally, physically, intuitively - able to nurture my daughter and surrender to this phase of my life where incredibly complex, intellectual thought processes don't have much currency.
But it's not over for the old grey matter upstairs just yet. And this blog is all about giving it the occasional workout. It may not be literary, it might not even make complete sense at times. But it's exactly where I'm at as a new mum.