I keep hearing this awful, little expression lately – “Mommy brain” – and each time it bothers me a little, but today I heard myself say it and that was it! It’s time to debunk an insidious myth (which I will now attempt to do with great feminist relish!).
There is no such thing as “mommy brain.” I think what people usually mean by that is that a mother, especially a mother of a newborn, is “really tired.” So what’s the big deal? The big deal is that by saying “mommy brain” instead of “really tired,” the message is that mothers are incapable of thinking clearly. Sadly, I’ve had many friends buy into that awful lie to different degrees and actually believe that while their children are young they are actually incapable of really focusing and doing intellectual work. I have heard it from women with graduate and post-graduate degrees even! Nonsense. Fathers of newborns are often just as tired as mother of newborns, but we don’t hear people saying “Daddy brain” when they go off to work as usual.
As a relatively newly-solo (practicing) attorney-mama of a newborn, I readily admit to being extra tired and occasionally losing my train of thought or letting something slip by me at first. I’m thinking this is just another reason why we Americans should follow the lead of our sister industrial nations and provide ample maternity leave (but don’t even get me started on all that…) It just means it might take a few extra proofreads (and I really need to get better at delegating the typo-hunting to my fabulous Client Liaison / paralegal). But I am so thankful to have wonderful, supportive clients and even prospective clients who appreciate and respect what I am doing here and extend me gracious patience.
For example, they let it slide when I do something like accidentally type “Don” instead of “Dan” in a first draft (oops!) because I also manage to make sure that we’ve properly spelled out exactly who should inherit what, when, and how from their estate and ensure that their children are protected and will only ever be cared for by the people my clients choose. In fact, my clients know that as a mom I “get it.” I empathize with their worries because I have shared them. As a lawyer-mama I was able to take my own personal experiences and turn them into valuable techniques for solving the possible legal problems facing any parent of young children.
As for my clients who do not (anymore or, often, yet) have young children, perhaps it helps that for the past two months, since she was 3 days old, they have seen and heard me caring for my newborn baby while I participate in conference calls and meetings with them, and type over her sweet, little, sleeping head.
So to be clear, I don’t have “Mommy brain,” I have a sharp, analytical, lawyer brain…that just happens to be extra tired right now.