Back when I was at law school (which seems like eons ago now), I somehow fell into being part of an informal study group. It was mainly made up of male mature students – so in many ways I was the odd one out, but they were friendly enough and very studious so it was pretty good for the most part. However, one day one of them made a comment which has stuck with me.
He basically inferred that when women stay home with kids their brains turn to mush because their life basically becomes nappies, The Wiggles and ouchy- choocy- coo baby language. There were murmurs of agreement amongst the group.
At the time, knowing I hoped to have kids someday – I must confess that I was a little worried – I didn’t want my brain to turn to mush. But now, when thinking about the comment (even though it was mainly said in jest) it kind of makes me a little mad, and I think that it is wrong. These are the reasons why :
(Disclaimer : It should also be noted that I’m not saying that Mums are matter of factly smarter than non- Mums – I’m just saying that being a Mum doesn’t make you dumb and that from my experience it has added to who I am, not subtracted from it.) Anyway, on with the list :
1) You gain a greater (albeit select) understanding of medical things :
I’m in no way saying that because I’ve had kids I am now qualified as an OB/GYN or midwife – by no means. However during the course of my two pregnancies and raising the kids so far, I feel I have gained some knowledge in the following areas :
- General pregnancy information. Especially in my first pregnancy I read and re-read those pregnancy updates about the size my growing baby was week by week, at which point they reached viability, what words like vernix, meconium etc meant.
- How to deal with an oversupply issues and a colicky baby.
- Information on preparing for a VBAC.
Fortunately my kids have been very healthy but I also learnt very basic information about Noah’s less than perfect eyesight and need for glasses. (I should say corrective lenses – as this just sounds smarter.)
Again, I should stress that none of this makes me a medical expert – but it all is information that my brain did not contain before – ipso facto it means I’m smarter.
2) Motherhood makes you creative :
When I became a Mum it also unleashed an urge to create in general (although especially little things for my baby.) However there are many ways in which Motherhood encourages creativity, such as :
- playing make believe games with your kids (we had a birthday party for Mickey Mouse yesterday – Noah’s idea),
- trying to dress a very wriggly baby,
- trying to get dinner on the table with a toddler glued to one leg and the baby on the other, with limited bench space because the dishwasher had packed a sad. (This was my Thursday night.)
- finding new and inventive ways to ‘steal’ a shower for yourself (or go to the bathroom in general),
- finding ways to stretch a depleted budget further,
The list could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea!
3) You gain insight / perspective :
For me, this has largely translates into a greater understanding and respect for my own parents.
And although I’m very fortunate to have not suffered through these things myself, I feel I could perhaps emphasise more now with someone struggling through infertility or the loss of a child, because I have experienced the joy that children bring.
As a Christian, I also feel that having kids of my own has given me a slightly greater understanding/ appreciation of God’s love for his children.
4) You see things through their eyes :
In many ways this is tied into number three, above.
I find it so amazing to see how my kids react to the world around them, when they see and experience things for the first time. Obviously we were all babies once too, but we tend to forget things like how cool it is when a plane flies overhead and when birds chirp; and I think having kids helps us see the world with fresh eyes.
Noah used to refer to anything that opens and shuts as a “door.” This could be an actual door, a page of a book, a lid of a container. You name it, if it opened and shut in any way then to him it was a door. This has some logic to it and I was grateful to see this from his perspective. It also made me think about people learning English as a second language too!
My Dad has always told me that in many ways your EQ (emotional intelligence) is more important than your IQ.
Having kids has given many feelings that I have never felt before, including that fierce protective love for this little person in your care.
So in conclusion, while I do (often) suffer from baby brain, I know the words to the theme song from Jake and the Neverland Pirates and the password to enter Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse and I would be very ‘rusty’ if I went back to my old job tomorrow; I think that motherhood has added to who I am, rather than taken away from it.