Here at MomBrain HQ, things are mighty cold. In fact, this blog has been on ice for five long years. But this hiatus was not without much weeping and gnashing of teeth. Five years of blogging and hundreds of readers were hard to release. But when the Little Guy learned to read and squawked about privacy, MomBrain was put in Time Out until she promised never to do that again.
Why did it take five years to emerge from my corner, facing the wall? I do not know. But here I am, full of promises to play more nicely.
I considered starting a new blog, but I will always be a Mom, even though the Little Guy (who is now taller than me) has retired into privacy. As for the Brain part, it’s definitely still there, though perhaps more like a shriveled raisin than an actual human brain. So MomBrain it is, with a little less Mom and a little more Brain, ready to sound my barbaric yawp.
Tick tock, tick tock … 5 years goes by … tick tock, tick tock …
If you have actually seen MomBrain in the flesh, then you know I am not one of those extremely cool 20-something dude-moms snowboarding with her kids and sporting a nose stud. Alas, I am not nearly that young, hip, or energetic. Also snowboarders scare me.
What I am is most kindly — or at least euphemistically — worded by the big red words on the chart my OB carried into each appointment with me while I was pregnant: Advanced Maternal Age. Those big red words still feel like a hot embarrassment, my very own scarlet letters, as if I had sinned by getting pregnant when a smart woman my age would be helping her teenagers with their college applications. But in fact, my pregnancy was a triumph, my own personal miracle. After eight years of failed infertility treatments, I had somehow become pregnant the old fashioned way — despite the many reasons my body couldn’t get pregnant, and despite my “advanced maternal age.” It was mind-blowing, like waking up one morning and speaking fluent French when I’d never uttered so much as an ooh la la.
That force of nature was so much bigger and more powerful than me. So it’s hard not to believe in destiny, that I was fated to be the older mother of a single child. Does it make me ungrateful that I question it? That I still mourn for the second child I never had, the child that destiny never intended for me? All these years later, I still have trouble looking at the empty fourth chair at dinner; sitting in an awkward threesome at a square restaurant table; looking in the rearview mirror at my son, alone in the too-wide back seat. My family is not complete. And yet it is.
In which MomBrain plods through an unexpected snow day and contemplates an island of nothingness.
Taking a cue from the surprisingly twitter-esque This Woman’s Work:
What the Little Guy is doing right now: Playing with two neighbor boys, racing around the house in his karate belt looking for markers and scissors (I’m afraid to ask).
What the Big Guy is doing right now: Talking on his cell phone, speaking slowly and clearly to a Japanese colleague who doesn’t speak fluent English, trying to sound professional even with the screams in the background.
What Kitty is doing right now: Hiding from ninjas, probably under the big bed.
What MomBrain is doing right now: Listening to the boys, in case of blood or tears. Thinking about all the grand ideas I have for essays, and feeling too tired to even begin. Thinking about the books piled on my nightstand, but too tired to read. Thinking about the cluttered closet, the mountain of laundry, the dishwasher that needs unloading, but feeling too tired to do any of it. Thinking about the 4830 emails in my Inbox, but feeling too tired to open any of them. Thinking about the 32 self-portraits drawn by the Little Guy’s classmates that I promised to scan, but feeling too tired to push the On button. Reminding myself that if I eat the dark chocolate in the pantry I will feel even more tired. considering a cup of tea. wishing for a nap. realizing i have stopped using capital letters, but feeling too tired to fix them.
In which MomBrain descends into the fiery pit and emerges as a bird of a whole ‘nuther feather …
I have been blogging as MomBrain since 2003, embarrassing my family with some success and myself with even more. But it’s time for MomBrain to write about something else. For one thing, I’m finally emerging from the Baby Blur of those first six years. The total immersion of early motherhood is nearly over, and I’m beyond ready to reclaim my old life. For another, the Little Guy is now the Medium Guy, and I need to respect his growing self-awareness. I mean, it’s one thing to write about your toddler’s mud-spattered antics. But when your baby is big enough to wear your socks, it’s time to redraw the boundaries of what you say in public. Besides, he can read now.
All this to say that while MomBrain will continue, probably in another guise, you’ll be reading less about the Little Guy and maybe a little more about … um … I don’t know yet. But the winds of change, they are a-blowin’ …
Here at MomBrain HQ we are weeping bittersweet tears as the Little Guy marks another milestone in his short life. Tonight, in a battle of wills over homework, he ran away. He grabbed his backpack and his Halloween costume and made a beeline for the neighbor’s house, where two Lego-loving boys live. So I did what any shocked and confused mother would do — I shut the door behind him and spied through an upstairs window. The neighbors weren’t home, so he sat in the front yard and waited. I waited. He waited. I waited.
God bless the Big Guy, who’s not all that good at waiting. He grabbed the car keys and loudly suggested that — since we didn’t have to cook dinner for the Little Guy — he and I should just go out to eat at the Little Guy’s favorite sushi restaurant. Before you could say sashimi he was in the back seat, buckling up and hoping for kappa maki. A happy family reunion followed, and then, when we returned home … we did homework.
It’s hard being seven.
MomBrain has ended the summer on a high note. And I do mean a high note, of the ELA variety that any crossword maven knows. Camping in the wilds of Mazama, needing to pee so badly she feared embarrassing herself, but surrounded in the dead of night by howling coyotes, she did the only thing she could do: burst from the tent and made a break for the porta-potty, waving two flashlights and screaming like a banshee. And indeed, MomBrain did look too big and scary for any little coyote to eat, and so she managed to pee safely. She did not, however, escape embarrassing herself, having become the live entertainment for her fellow campers.
But summer is over, and we are now safely back in the wilds of Seattle. The tent is smushed forlornly into its sack. Our tans are fading, and our feet are becoming reaquainted with shoes. The Little Guy is back in school, and the morning air has a chill to it. Can it be? Did summer really go by that fast? Are the holidays truly just around the corner? Already?
Sunday morning, and I jerk awake thinking “Lawsy it’s hot for six a.m.!” I look at the clock, and it’s actually 9:30. The sun is shining through the windows, the house is empty, and a note is waiting on the kitchen counter: We’re at IHOP! We might go to the Science Center after! We’ll be home by noon! The coffee is hot, the Sunday paper untouched, and the Big Guy has just won my heart again.
The Big Guy has been having the same dream for seven years, in which he and I are strolling happily through an alley in Venice, bathed in golden light. The Little Guy is part of our family but isn’t born yet, and we are happily exploring new territory, together. Well, even MomBrain can interpret that dream, and it’s a recurring reminder of how lucky I am that the Big Guy enjoys our adventures into the uncharted terrain of parenthood.
But. (And it’s a Big But.) I’m thinking this dream has changed lately, with the Big Guy speeding through the canals of Venice in his motorboat. And this motor, she is loud. One might even say it sounds like a man snoring. In bed. Next to his insomniac wife. Who is beginning to hallucinate from fatigue and may even be approaching psychosis, keeping a mental tally of all the sharp objects in the house and moving to the couch before she can act on it.
This just in from Sister K, who just announced that she is the most Shakespeare-illiterate person in the entire world and then proceeded to recite a lengthy monologue from Julius Caesar, which she memorized thirty years ago. My, Grandma, what a sticky brain you have! Clearly we are not from the same gene pool. My own brain, she is coated with Teflon, slick as a whistle.