The most recent of the committees on which I’ve become active is charged with developing career development opportunities for postdocs on campus, particularly helpful and interesting to me. Curiously, this committee is composed almost entirely of women, and it became clear to all that I was pregnant at our first meeting. So, from time to time, the pre- and post-meeting conversations have drifted into the mommy-academia realm. Today, post-meeting, I heard a hilarious description from a junior faculty member about motherhood:
She really didn’t mean this in the negative sense…more just about the physiological effects of motherhood/pregnancy on the brain, much of which are due to hormonal changes. The junior faculty’s motherhood experience included forgetting several things that were once second nature; with time, she relearned those things, but with a different understanding of them than before having children. My only experience with this so far has been a general sense of scattering in my brain…I can’t seem to keep the files in any good order. Example: at a meeting last week, I was explaining that we needed fliers for an upcoming event to be posted in the elevators around campus. I couldn’t come up with the word “elevator” to save my life, and suddenly blurted the word “microwave” out in its place:
This type of occurrence, which only seems to perpetuate the absent-minded scientist myth, has become quite common over the past couple of months. Luckily, I have a pretty good sense of humor, and I’m learning to take these moments in stride.
Cloud from the Wandering Scientist recently mentioned The Mommy Brain, a book by Katherine Ellison about this topic, in the comments section of one of my earlier posts. I haven’t read this book yet (planning to purchase this weekend), and I have no good scientific understanding of the brain (I tend to concentrate on the “minds” of our little microbe friends). But I’m completely enthralled by the topic. The subtitle of the book is “How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter”, and I’m dying for some good news right now. I’ll be back in a future post, hopefully before the rest of my brain becomes too disheveled to write, to share what I learn!