As a non-parent, there are things about parents’ behaviours that you find perplexing. Why do they talk about poop so much? Why do they cry when they talk about their kids? Why do they want to go to baby showers?
In spite of being a staunchly cynical and relatively sardonic person, I have changed. It’s not that I didn’t believe women when they told me about “Mom Brain”, it’s that I figured I was somehow immune or that it just wouldn’t happen to me. Of course I’m not immune, and while exhaustion and forgetfulness are the more typically discussed “Mom Brain” symptoms, there’s others that are more intriguing to me.
The first change I noticed was that I do not find the sound of babies crying particularly bothersome anymore. At first I thought it was just my own children. The sound of my children crying is kind of cute, in a twisted sort of way. It’s strange, since it is intended to spur you into action. But I imagine if its sound didn’t have a hint of cuteness, the exhaustion and crying would be all too much in those first few weeks.
Then I met up with friends with children and realized to my horror that all babies crying sounds kind of cute. That is certainly a bizarre experience. Am I no longer the person on the airplane or in the adult-appropriate restaurant who is deeply irritated–but willfully and politely forgiving–of uncontrollably crying children? I’m sure I quickly grew a slightly deeper empathy for parents. But I can’t imagine my personality really having shifted this quickly. There’s got to be more to it.
In another interesting development, I’ve noticed that essentially all children on television are now extremely cute to me. Baby television characters have never held my interest. Now I’m letting out an (internal) “awwww,” at the sight of each one. Even stranger, I can’t stand to watch if a baby is going through some sort of hardship or turmoil. A baby in a hospital after an injury? A child being even slightly mistreated by its caretaker? It’s like watching a gruesome horror film; I have to peer through my fingers to get through those scenes. I won’t even bother with medical dramas keen to have devastating loss portrayed.
It also seems I’m more inclined to talk to children. Previously to becoming a mom, only cute, well-dressed children of a certain age captured my interest. I liked kids who could hold a conversation and who didn’t put their sticky hands on me. Now I smile at each little goobery rugrat I see on the street, hoping they’ll mumble something adorable in my direction.
I worry about safety. Yes, just in general terms, but more specifically, I’m infuriated by cars whipping along Main Street while there are children in the area. I thought about kids at election time. What party would offer the best support to families?
I did prepare for motherhood in practical terms. I had a couple of cribs, some casseroles in the freezer, and a nursing bra. But it turns out there’s aspects of motherhood you just can’t prepare for. These changes come with only one possible explanation: they’re biological. Nature has rewired me. And while I was as ready as anyone could be to parent twins, I was not at all prepared to have an entirely new brain.