At first, I thought it was temporary. I'm sleep-deprived, I told myself. Everything will go back to normal once she starts sleeping through the night. That was my hope anyway.
Sixteen years later I now know the truth. Not only did my brain NOT return to “normal,” but it has grown progressively worse. Here’s how I know:
- I have definite signs of Attention Deficit Disorder.
I’m easily distracted and find it hard to stay focused. Need some proof? Okay, brace yourself. Here’s a peek inside my mind as I sorted laundry this morning:
Emily’s been complaining about headaches, maybe I should take her to the eye doctor. If I put a roast in the crock pot, I wonder if it’ll be ready when we get home from the game. I hope Taylor remembered her lunch money this morning. Ooh! That would make a great blog post, I should write that down. Maddie’s got a meet coming up; I wonder if her leotard still fits. I should see if there’s a jazzercise class nearby – I really should exercise more …
Yep, it’s scary. My thoughts jump around like a bounce house full of kids on Pixie Stix.
- I experience frequent moments of delayed thinking.
It happens all the time. Curt and I are talking. Our conversation naturally moves from one topic to another. However for some reason, my brain sticks on a previous topic. Suddenly, I'll blurt out something random like, “Puerto Rico!”
Curt looks confused, but then it’ll click.
“Puerto Rico? You’re still talking about that? We had that conversation thirty minutes ago!”
I can’t blame Curt for not keeping up. After all, he’s a dad. His mind only focuses on one thing at a time.
- I engage in obsessive compulsive behavior.
There are two basic scenarios that always inflict repetitive behavior in me. First, that dreaded note from school: A child in your child’s classroom has head lice. Suddenly, I’m on a constant look-out for signs. “Are you scratching? You are scratching! Come over here so I can check your head!” And so the obsessive head-checking begins.
The second scenario happens when I hear a statement like: “A boy I sit next to in English class threw up all over his lunch tray today.” Instead of “Welcome home girls," or "How was your day,” They are now greeted with “Wash your hands! Wash your hands! Wash your hands!”
- I experience panic attacks, anxiety and paranoia.
Let’s begin with paranoia, shall we? Here’s an example from earlier years: The girls are happily playing in another room while I work in my office. Suddenly it’s quiet. Too quiet. And that eerie silence can only mean one thing. They’re up to no good. Something bad is about to happen!
Then there’s anxiety. Anxiety is usually triggered by difficult questions I’d rather not answer. For example, “How does Santa leave us presents when we don’t have a fireplace?” or “How did the baby get into her tummy?” or (while pointing and “whispering” loudly) “Why is that lady so fat?”
And finally, panic. As a mom, I've had many frightening moments. These moments go way back to the first time Emily slept through the night. I woke up at 5 AM and raced to her bedside, making sure she was still breathing. Today I experience similar feelings of panic when I buckle myself into the passenger seat while my “baby girl” sits behind the wheel.
- I suffer from amnesia – both long-term and short-term.
I used to pride myself on remembering every detail of my daughters’ births. Now all three events have blurred together.
“Let’s see,” I’ll say with confidence, “I know that Taylor was born at 8:42 AM.”
Curt shakes his head. “No, that was Madison.”
“Oh. I thought Madison was born at 1:14 PM.”
“No, that was Emily.”
Okay whatever. That’s what baby books are for.
Is she saying that kids can literally drive us crazy?
But one can’t deny that something happens to the brain after becoming a mom. I’ll let you make your own conclusions because I need to go. Its way too quiet upstairs and I’ve got a roast to put in the crock pot.