Sunday, 10 April 2016

Mummy brain, or plain old rubbish brain?

Absent minded. Forgetful. Scatty. Disorganised. These are all terms that have been used (quite accurately) to describe me over the years. Since having Duckling however, it would be fair to say that you could add "massively" in front of any one of these phrases, and it wouldn't be an exaggeration.

Few mothers I'm sure escape without some degree of Mummy brain. It is inevitable when you have a small child (children) demanding your attention every moment of the day. We women are allegedly good multitaskers because it would have given us an evolutionary edge in days of yore, and yes, I am damn good at doing 15 things at once, much better than my very 'linear' husband; I just don't do any of them very well, or apply any kind of sensible priority. And being a bit of a perfectionist (ironically), that drives me nuts. My biggest bugbears include the following:

1) Never putting stuff away. On a non-work day, the breakfast condiments usually remain on the kitchen counter until around lunchtime, at which point I have to put them back in the cupboard to make way for the lunch stuff. Which then stays out until dinner time... And as for shopping - our return from the shops almost always coincides with an urgent need to change a nappy / shovel food into a hungry child / wrestle a child into bed / play Duplo, so I consider it a major victory if the ice cream goes in the freezer before it becomes a liquid.

2) Forgetting to lock the car. I do this an embarrassing amount. After one memorable occasion where someone actually got into the car and riffled through the glovebox (nothing was taken thankfully), an apoplectic Drake was heard to utter the phrase "well at least you won't do that again in a hurry.". Except I did, less than a week later. I did not own up to this funnily enough.

3) Leaving the washing in the washing machine. I'll be honest, this is less of an issue now Drake has largely taken on washing duties. But the main reason he took on washing duties was because his work shirts kept getting left in the machine until they acquired a lovely mildewy aroma, and on one occasion, some actual mildew. Hanging up washing is simply too time consuming to slot into nap time and too difficult when you have a toddler who wants to "help". There is still a sock in one of our plant pots I need to retrieve...

4) Failing to brush Duckling's teeth. I am REALLY ashamed of this one. The evening brush is fine as we do it in the bath, it's the morning one I struggle with, because our morning routine changes depending on who is at work that day, and where. At some point pretty much every day I think "Oh crap, I forgot again! I WILL remember tomorrow". I rarely do. It probably doesn't help that Duckling hates having his teeth brushed and usually screams and struggles like a feral cat in a headlock. A bit like the washing, there may be an element of deliberate (albeit subconscious) forgetfulness on my part I'm sure.

5) Losing my phone and/or running out of battery. Drake keeps his phone charged and in his pocket at all times, only extracting it when sitting / sleeping / using it. I don't always have pockets in my outfits, so tend to leave it all over the place. Or I put it in my coat pocket while out and fail to retrieve it once back home, causing a 20 min phone hunt several hours later because it's on silent, and no amount of ringing it from the house phone is going to reveal its location. When you add a mobile-stealing infant to the mix, it's a wonder I ever have it on me at all. I have missed a whole variety of important calls through my failure to keep tabs, including several from Drake enquiring if our pre-agreed emergency protocol should be triggered (our plan to get Duckling rescued in the event that Drake is overseas and cannot reach me by any means of communication, thus suggesting that I've incapacitated or fatally injured myself. Seriously, that scenario gives me nightmares). Maybe I should just permanently keep it in the arm holster I wear running...?

6) Inability to accurately gauge the time needed to do anything. This is probably my biggest and most regular failing. I can plan a work project down to the tiniest detail with beautiful and accurate gantt charts. I can organise other people and events like a pro. Ask me to get myself out of the house by 09:00 sharp and no matter when I start my prep, at 09:07, I will still be running up and down the hallway yelling "Duckling, where are your shoes? Where are MY shoes?! No you can't wear your wellies to soft play! Or my flipflops! For God's sake, stop mucking about, we have to GO!" It's not Duckling's fault - mostly it's me that's made us late; he just bears the brunt of my frustration as I realise I'm going to be apologising profusely to someone yet again. To be honest, having a child hasn't actually made me that much later than I was before (10-15 mins mostly) because I do actually leave more prep time than I used to to accommodate toddlerisms - it's just still never quite enough. If I try really, really hard because it's really, really important I can be on time (even early!). But on a daily basis, that level of concentration, will-power and energy is beyond me. I live in hope that I CAN get ready in 30 minutes this time, even though I know it always takes me at least 45 mins from out of bed to out the door. And when I do have 45 mins or more, I find it impossible to retain a sense of urgency and thus get hopelessly side-tracked by more interesting pursuits. In that respect, I think I'm as much of a toddler at Duckling.

None of these failings are unforgivable (though I have friends who may still harbour a grudge at being left waiting forever - sorry guys...). As I say, all Mums probably have those Mummy brain moments.  It doesn't stop me feeling like a fraud when I describe them as such though, as blaming my child for traits I displayed before I had him isn't really fair. I don't want to be constantly living up to my own stereotype either. Thankfully Drake mostly just laughs at me, rather than getting annoyed, but being laughed at is not exactly ego-boosting (particularly as he has scatty moments about as often as I have 10 minutes to kill on arrival at my destination). As such, I decided I'd spend a whole week a few months back trying not to be so ditsy. I lasted about a day and a half, before the effort of trying to maintain a grip on my short term memory, be on time, keep the house tidy and hang on to my phone led me to totally forget a chiropractor appointment - and forgetting appointments is one thing I very rarely do. Drake thought it was hilarious. It took me a week to see the funny side. But hey, as the old parenting cliché goes, if you make it to the end of the day, you're dressed and your children are still alive, you've had a good day. Maybe I just need to lower my standards. Duckling will be able to brush his own teeth in a year or so's time anyway. If he still has any...

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