An overstuffed brain?? | Overstuffed Overstuffed

Monday, April 25, 2005

An overstuffed brain??

The missionaries called us the other day to invite us to a baptism. Our stake president and his wife have recently adopted some children from Romania and two of them were being baptized Saturday. The missionaries thought it would be nice if we came because their English isn't very good yet and they might enjoy talking to us.

We were totally game to go, and on the way there we practiced speaking to each other in Romanian. I was absolutely horrified at myself. I couldn't remember basic vocabulary and my grammar was a mess. I had to think so hard just to structure a basic sentence and even then it rarely came out perfectly. Romanian used to come so easily to me and now it was like I was just learning it again.

This got me to wondering what has happened to my brain. I used to consider myself a fairly intelligent person, but now? I don't know.

I love crosswords, and when I was in college I could complete the New York Times Crossword puzzle without any help. Even on Fridays I could do this. I recently picked up a copy of the Tuesday puzzle and I could only get halfway through it. (The easiest puzzles are published Monday and they get progressively harder each day.) I think I tried a Friday puzzle a couple of months ago and I could only get three or four answers. Goodness! What happened?

I'm singing in this concert with Joel tomorrow night. I have never had such a hard time learning music before. Part of it I chalk up to time...I just don't have as much time to dedicate to practicing as I did when I didn't have children. The other part is just that my brain seems slow and sluggish when I am trying to learn the music. And we won't even talk about the French.

Joel and I love to play Trivial pursuit, and although I am still pretty good at it, I am surprised at the number of "easy" questions I tend to miss. Especially in the geography and history type categories. It's like I forgot everything I ever learned in all of the 18 or so years I attended school!

I have come to the conclusion that I actually haven't become stupider over the years. My brain cells did not go out with the placenta, as a friend of mine says. No, those brain cells are just being used for different things. I may not be able to complete a crossword puzzle anymore, but I have an amazing ability to know where every single item is in the house at any given time. If Joel or one of the girls is missing something, you can bet I know exactly where it is....even if it is in the furthest corner under Bria's bed. Speaking Romanian and learning French might be a challenge right now, but I am probably the only one who knows what Chloe is saying 99% of the time. (If she is saying a new word, sometimes it takes me a minute to catch on what she means.) History and Geography are useless to me now, so I can't remember them. Instead, that brain power is going to other things that I can use. Things like knowing when the kids should see the doctor, being able to answer all of the insatiable questions Bria asks, and keeping the finances in my home running smoothly.

So it doesn't mean that my brain is so full that half of my knowledge has fallen out my left ear. It's just proof that the human brain is remarkably adaptable. I am sure that if I ever decide to go back to school I'll be able to tap into my music-memorizing, crossword-completing, language-learning abilities once again. For now, I am happy to know that my brain is working in "mother mode" and is helping me be successful at the most important job I'll ever have!

22 comments :

  1. There is actually brain research done that shows that your brain "prunes" the branches of knowledge that you aren't using consistently.

    Mother mode, I think, is much more difficult and exhausting than any other form of learning!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is so true. I was one those thinking I must lose brain cells giving birth. But, I do believe that with each new baby, so much information is being used to meet the needs of that specific child on top of all the other things going on. I guess my friend with ten kids is one of the smartest ladies I know.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I like your take on the universal phenomenon! Being in mommy brain mode is not overly impressive to society, but it is what your family needs. I guess it's part of the sacrifice that we're making to raise competent citizens and faithful disciples.

    ReplyDelete
  4. That is SO true!! Thanks for Sharing!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for opening my eyes to all the ways I'm using my brain now for good, because I too feel like I've totally lost the ability to remember the things I used to know. I used to know all the amino acids (I think there's 21) and their pathways of absorption in the body, same thing for vitamins. And I used to be able to sit down and write out the entire Krebs cycle complete with enzymes and end products for each step. I guess I'm glad that I still know what a glucose molecule looks like.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Um, I know I have said this before, but are we living the same life???? I hope that some day I can go back to school and regrow some of those brain cells that currently keep track of what time Max and Ruby is on TV. I read some of my old college papers and it is like someone else wrote it. I have NO recollection of ever remembering some of that stuff! Hang in there. I love your post. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. hehe!! I am pretty sure that my brain cells came out with my babies just like your friend. Then again--I like your way of thinking--it makes me feel less, well, stupid!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think that your observation is so true! Why we remember some things so well and not others certainly relateds to how applicable that knowledge is to our immediate lives. Can you imagine if you remembered every bit of information that you took in? Every detail of every arguement with your spouse? I think we'd never be able to sleep for all the rubbish running through our heads!
    :~D

    ReplyDelete
  9. Your brain shrinks.
    Get over it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Absolutely! Our lives' needs are always shifting and our brains are always (we hope) adapting to the change.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I think I lost half of my brain cells after having Lael. Like I seriously don't know what's wrong with me sometimes! :o)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Agreed - our brains are just out of practice in that way!

    ReplyDelete
  13. That's a very good way to think of it. It's like we have a finite number of brain cells, and they are being spread in other places, so stuff I used to know has conveniently "left" my brain!

    ReplyDelete
  14. This post is exactly what the Learning and the Brain class I took was talking about. The brain adapts to what you're focusing on now and those that don't matter at the moment, slowly gets "pruned" out to divert to other present focus. Motherhood seem to be the area that a woman's brain adjusts to the most and rightly so! Let's just say I'm glad I got into Sudoku and other strategy games to keep up with how my children thinks and sees their world so I can keep up. I also took up Excel so I can be in control of my own technology hangups and for the fact that it's fun!

    ReplyDelete
  15. This is your first post?? You have so much writing talent,Lara. I didn't know you spoke Romanian either- that is not an easy language.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Having been back in school the last few years I can tell you that it does tend to come back when you are actively using it. I found that I am actually a lot better student now than I was at 18 first attending college...

    ReplyDelete
  17. You're singin' my song here, lady. It's always so frustrating to me that I can't seem to make better use of my brain cells! There are so many things that I used to pride myself on having memorized, and poof! Where'd they go these days? And I don't even have kids yet...I have a feeling I'm going to be hopeless.

    They're always saying that we human beans only use about 15% of our brains...so is that where all this forgotten knowledge goes? Is it lost in the nether region of the other 85 percent?!?

    ReplyDelete
  18. "Mother Mode." I love it. I think it is totally true, too. At least, I like that theory much more than the one where I just am getting dumber every single day. :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Isn't that the truth! I wish though sometimes that I could melt the two experiences together somehow. I don't remember retaining much from my child development classes when I was in college because I didn't have much to relate them too. I think I've learned a lot more about child development since I had my own kids. I've also found that you don't appreciate things when you have them...like being skinny and being really smart at certain things and having all the time in the world to do whatever you want!

    ReplyDelete
  20. So True! I also love "Mother Mode". What a concept! You are an excellent writer.. are you sure your not an author instead of musician?

    ReplyDelete
  21. What a great post. It is so true. You will be able to tap into that memory if you need to when go back to school but for now, all you need is to be mom.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Can totally relate.

    Now, what are my children's names again? LOL!

    ReplyDelete