Monday, March 3, 2008

Motherhood Side-Effect: A Two-Track Mind

Motherhood has made my brain more efficient.

No really.

I’m not talking about traditional multi-tasking. Motherhood is famous for transforming otherwise sane women into organizational machines that can complete four or five different “to-do” items at once. Balancing graduate school, a part-time job, and a new marriage trained me in multi-tasking.

I’m talking about being able to successfully divide my brain into two active trains of thought. Admittedly, neither train of thought is focused on complex cost-benefit analysis or other high-level functions.

Still I impressed myself this morning.

I was reading Maya’s newest literary favorite. Hans Christian Andersen’s Thumbelina. The story became her favorite instantly when we discovered that Thumbelina is renamed Maia on the last page. Maya seemed to think that sharing a name with Thumbelina might mean she will get her own set of wings someday… not a bad thought.

Anyway, I was reading the book for the second time today, and probably the 125th time in a week, when my thoughts drifted to the Gurney’s seed catalog.

Oh yeah, I spent the next several pages of Thumbelina contemplating whether I wanted three raspberry bushes and two blue berry bushes or two elderberry bushes and two blue berry bushes. I started thinking about where I would plant them. From there, I started reminiscing about the feel of the warm, stony sidewalk path on my bare feet, the smell of grilling hamburgers, whether we’ll really get chickens this summer….

“Maia like me Maya,” she interrupted my thoughts. Apparently I was able to daydream rather intensively while reading the entire book. Sure it’s only 15 pages or so, but I must have read all of the words with the right inflection. I always receive enthusiastic heckling if my performance isn’t up to code.

So motherhood has trained my mind to operate on two tracks, simply to avoid the madness that would inevitably follow the 126th reading of a children’s story.

Before motherhood, I heard about this book called The Mommy Brain, and now I think I’m adding it to my reading list on Goodreads. This book simply contradicts the popular wisdom that motherhood dulls your intellectual capacity.

I can’t tell you how useful a two-track brain would have been in my last job. I would not have had to choose between paying attention to loquacious and nonsensical blather at meetings or being completely rude and working on improving my latest grant language. Instead, I could have appeared to participate (nodding and murmuring assent at all the right times) while actually doing my own work.

So that's my story. Now, check out the latest pictures from our weekend trip to the zoo:

Reading the paper before the zoo trip.

Elliot enjoying (hopefully) her ride in the sling.

We said good-bye to our polar bear. He's headed to Chicago for a year or two while they build him a new habitat.

Maya loves the giraffes on a good day...

She particularly loved watching this one stick his tongue out!

I guess 40 degrees seemed warmer when we started the day. Maya turned a little blue and still refused to wear her hat and mittens (but I guess so did mom!).


Andrea said...

oh yeah, motherhood made you soooo much smarter. Listen, lady, I daydream through class all the time and I don't claim that this is due to some amazing higher level ability to both plan out my entire wardrobe for the week and take notes on European economic integration.

Excited to see you and Elliot Thursday!!!! It's our first family vaca in what, 11 years? Party on!

Love you!

Sarah said...

oh no, don't misunderstand me. I don't mean I'm smarter relative to others.... just more efficient relative to my former self. In college, I would daydream occasionally, but when I snapped back to attention, there was always a huge gap in my class notes. Or at work, I would zone out to the drone of bad ideas, but was never able to hide it well.

Now apparently I've learned how to both meet the requirements of the present and let my mind wander forward to our family vacation....


Search This Blog