Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Special Mom Brain

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
~ Isaiah 55:8, NIV~

A local radio station in our area has a year-end trivia quiz each winter that awards big prizes for those the eventual winner.  The show host is brilliant, so it is always fun to listen to the 3 hours of quizzing and play along with those who are brave enough to call.  Involved in legislative advocacy, always abreast of current events, a well-informed decision maker, this year I stood ready to answer the questions.  Yet, I found myself shocked at how little I knew or could readily recall.  

A number of days after listening to the trivia quiz, I cajoled my family into playing a game that we had received from "Santa" for Christmas.  "5 Second Rule" requires the players to name 3 items of a certain category within 5 seconds.  For example, the player to your left might read a card that states, "Name 3 Ivy League Colleges."  To score a point, the player must then name those 3 colleges before the 5 second timer runs out.  For a reluctant group of players, my family certainly found themselves laughing uproariously as they watched my husband dominate the game as I scored nothing.  That's right.  Not a point.  In fact, the entire family was able to score at least 1 point, most more than one, before we had to end play for the night.

As I reflected on my lack of mental finesse in calling up facts with both games, it occurred to me that I have come to a point in my life where I deal with so many challenging things that I only keep easily accessible within my brain that which I need to function in the immediate term.  If information is needed to traverse our daily life, my mind can access it.  If not, it is tucked away.  For instance, I can share with you volumes on IEPs and 504's or easily educate you on relevant medical processes and how they occur.  But ask me the name of someone I recently met or what happened on a given date, and you're sure to get a good case of the "Ums" from me.

Believe it or not, there actually is a diagnosis for this lack of cognitive acuity on my part.  It has been deemed by me, "Special Mom Brain."  One doesn't have to look too far to find endless publications and remedies declaring that stress does take a toll on our minds.  While I like to joke around that my head is crammed too full of necessary information fit ancillary data in, this really isn't far from the truth.  Studies have long indicated that certain hormones induced by stress affect neurological function in the brain, and ultimately, how we humans store and recall information.  In other words, if you think raising that child of yours is affecting your head, you're right!

Knowing these facts and accepting them, however, are two very different things.  It is frighteningly easy to malign myself as a "dingbat," worried that others will regard me with disdain.  After all, I was  an investment broker once-upon-a-life, analyzing price-to-earnings ratios and the percentage of debt companies were carrying.  Who would ever believe that with the state of my mind now?  How will I ever get the doctors to take me seriously with how forgetful I am these days?  It's easy to feel diminished.

But then I remember that I am not only a mom, but advocate who would argue the value of any life regardless of cognition.  Whether a person be gifted permanently with the mind of a 3 year old or a Harvard graduate, I would contend that God gives that individual infinite purpose that we may not fully realize this side of heaven.  And no matter how intelligent or able to recall any human brain may be, it would always pale in comparison to the boundless thoughts of our Heavenly Father.

So I have Special Mom Brain.  I might have to resign myself to the fact that I will never be the family champion of "5 Second Rule."  But there are worse things.  I could be a superficial human who finds value in only those who hold a doctorate or who make millions.  Instead, I'm a completely imperfect person who loves her children and does her level best to care for them.  That absolutely makes my absent-minded diagnosis one worth enduring. 

PRAY:  Father God, some days I feel as if I'm losing my mind in motherhood.  If nothing else, help me to remember that Your power is made perfect in my weakness.  And remind me to value people with the same high esteem that You do.

*Notes: "Study Shows How Stress Affects Memory Tests"by Thilaka Ravi on  March 28, 2012 at 10:48 PM Mental Health News ; "Rat Study Shows How Stress Disrupts Short-Term Memory" By Senior News Editor, Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on September 17, 2012; The Franklin Institute: Resources for Science Learning, Stress on the Brain Topics: How Your Brain Responds to Stress, Stress and Memory, and Impact of Stress Studies http://www.fi.edu/learn/brain/stress.html

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