I’ve had false alarms for years, but the other day it finally happened. I lost my last remaining pre-mommy brain cell. After 13 years, it’s official: Motherhood ate my brain.
The lawsuit I’m planning to file against my three children names my mind as the victim, and the damages I hope to recover include… six American Girl dolls, 1.27 million Lego blocks, and my 12-year-old’s collection of Beatles CDs?
I guess it’s not worth it.
No, motherhood ate my brain and nothing I do will bring it back.
I could live with this side effect of motherhood were it not for the fact that while my brain dwindled my waistline expanded.
I never thought I would be one of “those” women who let herself go while caring for her children. I’m not sure how it happened. I worked very hard to develop a mommy style that could withstand chocolate pudding and sweet potato stains while retaining some of my pre-mom style. When I look at pictures of me with my first two babies, I can still recognize Kathy ca. 1997.
But, I think it was just one too many mommy crises that did me in.
Two rides in an ambulance with Tom because of allergic reactions to peanuts, five MRIs for Lizzy, plus one 48 hour brain scan, two surgeries for Peter, countless speech, occupational and physical therapists coming in and out of my house for each child, a calender full of meetings for three different schools, a husband who commutes and does not get home till late, a host of specialist and late night calls from doctors that scared the bejeezus out of me, and much, much more!
Being the obsessive and compulsive person I am, I could tell you the origin and situation of each pound gained, each pound lost, and each pound re-gained.
It wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t react to every stressful situation by eating. Before I had my children, the stress of life may have caused me to gain a pound or two, but then my life would go back to “normal” and so would my weight. What am I supposed to do when crazy is the new normal?
This year, after countless weight loss programs, work-out DVDs and trips to the gym I made the resolution to not make any resolutions about my weight. Being a fan of the author Geneen Roth long before Oprah found her, I thought it would be easy to go back to the conscious way of eating she prescribes. It worked in my twenties and half of my thirties with great success.
I would eat when I was hungry and feel my feelings when I wasn’t. I would slow down, enjoy my food in a relaxing and stress-free enviroment. How hard could it be to go back to my pre-mom ways of eating?
The other night is a perfect illustration of just how hard it is going to be.
The children and I were eating dinner together, which we do most weeknights because my husband gets home too late to join us. I was sitting there trying to enjoy my dinner and listen to my hunger.
I was dealing with a wonderful case of tween attitude from my 12-year-old son and trying my best to not engage in an argument over his bedtime. At the same time, my youngest decided that he would try to eat his dinner, which was pasta, without any hands. My daughter, who has special needs, was in her own world talking to herself one minute, laughing at her brother the next, and occasionally screaming out of frustration to add some variety.
I wish I could say this was unusual, but it’s not. What was unusual, was my complete lack of patience. I couldn’t muster one ounce of compassion and sat there fuming. I was tired and cranky and had had enough. At that moment, I could throw each child out the door or do something equally drastic.
I started to give my usual spiel of: Tom don’t argue with me… Peter, don’t eat like a puppy, and… Come on Lizzy focus. But, this time using the years of vocal training my parents paid for, I sang it in my best opera voice.
All logic went out the window. My mom brain took completely over as I insisted that if my son was going to continue to argue with me he was going to have to sing it. There we were, four people having our own little production of “Mommy’s finally flipped.”
Suffice it to say, we all started laughing. And I got through another meal without selling one of my children.
Our little production made such an impression on Lizzy that the next day I learned from her teacher that when she couldn’t move her chair to her satisfaction she started to complain by singing in an operatic voice.
“Isn’t that funny Kathy, where could she have picked that up?”
Oddly enough it was on this night that I knew all my pre-mom brain cells were gone. And I had a pretty good idea of how not only I reached my present size, but how hard it was going to be to find my way back. It’s very hard to listen to your hunger when the noise of your children blocks it out.
Knowing my obsessive nature I trust I will find the balance between the stressed-out mom I am and the healthy, in-shape mom I have yet to become. I do enjoy the gym and have more physical stamina then I have had in years. I also make fairly good food choices, most days.
After all, it did take me almost 13 years to get here. I just hope it doesn’t take me another 13 years to return.