Today, I have COVID. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by people who can help mind my children and care for them during my isolation. Yet all I do as I lie in my bed is make plans for what they will need for lunch, snacks, and dinner that day. My head is full of things they might like to do that will keep them out of the house but away from other people. I’m conscious of what laundry needs to get done so everyone has enough clean socks and underwear. This is my brain. This is any woman’s brain on motherhood.
It’s a proven fact that women’s brains change quite significantly during pregnancy and into the first year of your child’s life. My brain changed six years ago and is never going to back to how it was before. No, I cannot lie here in bed and simply wonder what to watch next. The change a woman’s brain undergoes in that 18 months from conception through the first year of her child’s life is equivalent to that of her entire puberty journey.
Baby brain is an actual, scientific thing, not just a way to excuse the fact that we forgot your birthday. From the moment of conception, our brain is readying itself to focus on another human, to keep that human alive, and to be ready to put their needs before our own every day from now on. Who needs car keys? Who needs to remember why you opened the fridge? You are about to have bigger fish to fry. When was the last time you had to keep someone you’ve never met alive?
Mom-Brain. It’s why I’m not able to remember one single movie or TV show I’ve “got to see” during my isolation, and why I can only worry about whether I bought enough goldfish on my last trip to the store, and if not, will my husband buy the right flavour if he has to go down to buy more himself.
It’s amazing, but maybe not totally surprising, that no one thought to study the woman’s brain as she goes through this incredible shape shift into Motherhood until recently. Recently, as in my life time (I’m 41). Women have been having babies for a lot longer. Viagra was invented before anyone did a deep dive into how the female brain changes when we become mothers. Scream if you’re surprised. Exactly. Deafening silence.
Mother’s brains, bodies and whole lives change when we have children. We are actual superheroes, shape-shifters, life-givers. Baby brain is actually part of your magic. What would really be magic would be if we could figure out a way to turn off our Mom-Brain on command to allow us to enjoy our COVID isolation with the West Wing and not to worry about exactly how much ice cream the children are eating.
Annie Gill is a writer, performer, and mother to two children. She has performed in Ireland, the UK, and the US where she is from. She is co-hosting BRIGHT CLUB PRESENTS: THE MOTHERSHIP at this year’s Dublin Fringe Festival. It runs from the 15th-18th of September at Bewley’s Cafe Theatre on Grafton Street. There are afternoon and evening performances, tickets selling fast!