When it came to the working mom, my young mind, which after graduation from journalism school was sharp and eager to be recognized in the working world, produced thoughts that ranged from amazement: “How can she possibly do it all?” to pity: “How horrible that her children are raised by a nanny/daycare” or “Why can’t she just hold it together?” When I have a child of my own, I thought, I’ll have it so much more together. Right?
Even though I have all my (so-called) ducks in a row: good husband, good house, good daycare, good job, I’m about as thinly-stretched, forgetful and flustered as the next mom. I blame it on mommy brain — a disorder I take very, very seriously.
Unlike pregnancy brain, where your body redirects nutrients from you to the growing human inside of you, mommy brain has no cure (e.g. giving birth). While you’re not technically dumber, mommy brain is multitasking to an extreme. And you know what they say about multitaskers: it’s impossible to get really good at anything because you are focused on everything.
Pre-baby, I was number one. I had number twos and threes and fours, but my mind was predominantly looking out for me. After Everleigh came, my mind instantly focused on her and I was pushed to the back of my brain like some foreign, faraway memory. Like a primal animal, my thoughts revolved around making sure Everleigh was fed, rested, burped, played with, exercised, fresh aired and warm. So, during this early adaptation period, it came as no surprise when I’d look down in the middle of coffee with girlfriends to see week old stains on my sweater or realize I’d forgotten my jacket in the dead of winter.
Any mother can attest that after having a baby it takes time to re-learn the basics: shower, brush teeth, eat. But when you throw work into the mix, things get a little crazy. Thankfully, my husband and I have getting out of the house in the morning down to an art. Without him, I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to do what I do as well as I do. Even so, I’ve become that mom who looks down at client meetings to see a smudge of yogurt on black pants or who pulls a handful of Cheerios from my handbag as I grab my mobile phone. I’m late sometimes and I wear wrinkled shirts sometimes and I forget to put on my makeup sometimes. Sometimes I’m visibly tired or distressed.
Sometimes I see flashes of that girl, the one who was witty, sharp and on the ball, but it’s not always often.
Still, I wouldn’t change a thing. Instead, here is a silent nod of appreciation to all the women in my past who didn’t always look like they had it together. In hindsight, they had it together more than my former self could ever know.