Something has happened to my head since I had children. I’m all over the place. I rush from one thing to the next. In a fluster. In a panic. Must get this done. Quick, do that! Don’t stop. Go. Go. Go.
And I am so tired. All the time.
My boys are 19 months apart and my eldest was still waking once a night when his brother was born. Never more than 2 hours sleep at a time. Bug-eyed-I-forgot-to-shower–this-week-tired.
And yet the world thought I was okay. My friends told me I was amazing. My family said “It’s alright, not for much longer.” But I just couldn’t think clearly. One thought would start before the next had finished and on my way to hanging up the washing I’d put the rubbish because I’d rearranged the furniture looking for a piece of Lego and found an apple core. The washing would be forgotten and need to be rewashed two days later when found again.
I forgot things. All the time.
We joked about it when I was pregnant with my first. I walked home with bags and bags of groceries, only to realize 2 hours later that I’d driven to the supermarket.
But then it got serious.
Driving home from on of eldest’s many extra-curricular activities (if he was at home he’d scream and I’d go insane). I heard laughter in the back. Wild-abandon laughter. Thrill-seeker laughter. I turned. He was standing. STANDING. On his car seat. I’d forgotten to buckle him in. But the worst bit was yet to come though. I braked. At 80km an hour I braked. It was a reflex and it was wrong. Thankfully we both got lucky that day. He tumbled into the footwell and I pulled over smothering my shaking child in kisses and apologies.
I stuck a post-it note to the steering–wheel. It says “SB”. Seat Belt.
I’m back working now. But not really. The space where my brain used to be is just full of lists I need to do when I get home or day dreams about not doing anything at all. It’s like every work-related thought I have hits a metaphysical brick wall that feels like an actual brick wall.
I have always been ambitious and so much of my personality is tied up in ego. At being the best. At having all the answers. At being proactive, exciting, innovative. But since the birth of my first child I’m just not. I thought when I started sleeping my brain would come back. But it hasn’t. And some days it feels like I’ve lost a good friend.
My solution to forgetting has been to be overly-organised. I run the house like a military camp, complete with barked commands “Pants on! To the door! Eat up! Now!”. Clothes are lined up the night before. Sandwiches cut and ready to go. A bake-athon on Sunday means a week of meals and no more toast for dinner. It works.
Sometimes I worry I’m too controlled, not flexible enough. Too safe. But I although I lost my brain I didn’t lose the best bit of me. The silliness. The childishness. The happiness. When I’m with my kids I am with them. 100%. We play dress ups, dance like mad men, make up songs, run away from the monsters in the garden or the sharks on the carpet.
My kids don’t know me as super-successful girl. And I suspect they don’t care. They love silly me. They even love military me. And each day that I get to tuck them into bed; healthy, happy, growing, safe – it’s worth it.
I’d lose my brain again for that. If I still had one.
Jennifer is a sometimes Copywriter, sometimes children’s shop owner, always mother to two boys. Her aim in life is not to be an amazing Mum, just the best one she can. You can find her shop here.
Did having a child make you lose your brain?