My husband’s new gig means he keeps coming home with VIP tickets to all sorts of events. Last month it was the Open air Cinema in Sydney and this month Enlighten in Canberra. Three years ago I would have been ecstatic, and part of me still gets a little excited, but another part of me just fills with dread.
First there’s the finding clothes that aren’t tracksuit pants, jeans or t-shirts. Then there’s the hair and makeup, ‘is my hair even washed?’ I panic. Then there are the high heel shoes that seem so much harder to walk in after a year in a variety of trainers. But the worst part, the part no quick trip to the dry cleaners can solve, is the irrefutable need to make adult conversation on the night.
You see I now only communicate in baby language, which is simplified verbal shorthand, delivered with often over-the-top tonal expression, distorted facial animation, and punctured by incomprehensible sounds such as ‘toot toot’ or ‘ba ba ba ba ba ’ (dependent on which child I’m with). Imagine first year acting student or those hideous corporate icebreaking exercises. That’s me most of the day.
And the content of conversations, although extensive, would not really grab the attention of the usual VIP guest. Imagine excitedly yelling, “Garbage truck, look, beep beep beep” at the top of your voice as everyone around you recoiled at the smell and noise of its’ untimely arrival. Or congratulating your husband’s colleague on his return from an extended absence in the loo, “Did you just do a big Poo? I think you diiiid, bet that’s made you feel better, good job!”
Don’t worry I haven’t yet had my husband fired as have managed to keep these thoughts as thoughts when at said functions. But it’s just a struggle to think of other things to say after nearly two years of trucks, poo and snot dominating most conversations. Basically give me a bath or just 3 hours on my own to do anything as long as it doesn’t involve up-to-the-minute small talk.
I like to call my current situation ‘baby brain’. There has always been talk of ‘baby brain’ during pregnancy, but once you are “back to normal”, expectations are that you will mentally revert, as you have physically reverted. When in fact ‘Raphael-Leff (1994) suggests that upon becoming mothers, women are "plunged into a state of inner disequilibrium and external upheaval quite unlike any other encountered in adult life".’~
From my experience ‘baby brain’ kicked off after the birth of my first child and it’s really come in to it’s own now I have two under two. Research backs this up but only so far, as they have found that women only suffer a loss of spatial memory* from the later stages of pregnancy to at least three months after birth. My youngest is 6 months and there are NO signs of my brain returning to normal any time soon.
I figure I may need to put research aside and fight baby brain with its’ worst enemy: going out. Yes the effort is annoying, the thought of conversation threatening and there is in all likelihood a cranky backlash usually directed at your husband the next day because you are doubly exhausted. But once you get out you remember for a second what it’s like to be your old self, rather than a mother (although my conversation starter is usually ‘do you have kids?’).
And who says new mothers need to always have the grey film of sleep deprivation coating their skin? Who says tracksuit pants and trainers are the only things we should wear? Well, me for one, as most days just getting out of bed is a strain. But my point is that occasionally getting out and putting on makeup and a black slinky number (of course accompanied by some nancy ganz) may be the cure for Baby brain!?
I’ve only ventured out a handful of times so my brain impairment is still quite severe, but I’m taking my own advice I’m off to dinner and drinks (!) tonight with a girlfriend. The same quandary is running through my mind ‘Are you too tired to move let alone go out and talk to another adult?’ and I am likely to bite my husband’s head off when he reads the paper instead of feeding our son tomorrow, but I think it’ll be worth it, for me anyway, so I’m giving it a go. And who knows maybe the power of the English language will return to my lips just for two hours. At least I hope it will, otherwise I’ll be seeing the inside of a bathtub a lot more often and remaining content with putting the frozen peas in the pantry while yelling “Dada don't forget we need to iron the car^?”
* The recall of locations and positions of objects, Read more: http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/body-soul/baby-brain-is-real-after-all/story-e6frfot9-1225848946456#ixzz1HIIiKlM9 Baby brain is real after all, The Sunday Telegraph, April 04, 2010
^ Meant to be 'vacuum the car' if you hadn’t already guessed
~ Motherhood experiences from the perspective of first-time mothers. Clinical Nursing Research, November 01, 1997, McVeigh, Carol