I have graduated Cum Laude from the College of Parenting, with a degree in Mothering, Smothering, and Affection. What has become perfectly clear is that I am stronger, faster, and smarter than I was before I had kids. And I have developed the outrageous skill of mom multitasking—being able to do more than one thing at a time and doing it well.
I know … most of you are thinking it can’t be done. But according to a study by the National Institute of Health, new mothers who had “positive” interactions with their infants showed “increased gray matter volume in the midbrain,” the region linked to such skills as judgment, reasoning, and emotional processing.
There you have it—documented proof that the female species, after producing offspring, becomes more capable and intelligent.
My suspicions confirmed. It’s not so much separating lights from darks and remembering that Timmy’s throat will close if he eats shellfish. It’s the day to day, round the clock small things that we process immediately so that our day—and the days of those offspring that made us smarter to begin with—run smoothly and safely.
My girlfriends and I rarely miss an opportunity to shower each other with praise for our ability to handle it all—whether it’s work or volunteering, laundry, or Target—all while moving ahead and maintaining a home where the bathrooms are springtime fresh and dinner does not always come in a box.
We get up, we chug coffee, we pack the lunches, we assess the quality of the dog’s latest poop, we find microscopic skin abnormalities on a teen sitting in the rear of the car (“Honey, is that a wart or a pimple? How long have you had that mark behind your ear, under your hair? Is that a HICKEY?). And proofreading the latest term paper while quizzing for a biology exam? I do this and more because I am wired to succeed. Nobody falls on my watch.
As teen number two gets ready to go to college, I realize that the demands on my quick-thinking, ready-to-the-rescue lifestyle might change a bit. Truthfully, I am a little worried about the lower volume and reduced chaos with only one teenager living at home. Like most moms, I look back with fierce sentimentality at the crazy life I once led and the nostalgic blur of carpools, ear infections, kids’ menus and car seats. I no longer carry wipes and crayons in my purse.
To be honest, my incredible intelligence sometimes wavers after a bad night’s sleep. I have been known to forget how many children I have. I may have even forgotten a kid at school, maybe more than once. And I learned to call each kid “Bear” in order to avoid that slip of the tongue. (They know I know their real names; I just choose not to use them.)
I have a huge capacity for storing and processing ridiculously critical information: shoe size, favorite Axe variety, food aversions, which physics teacher to avoid, dental appointments, best friend of the week, and class schedules.
I’m a multitasking mom and my favorite role is Queen of this Castle.
I have discovered that this job makes me smarter and wiser and more confident; it makes me more patient and it heightens my awareness for all things teen. At some point, I realized that I really wouldn’t want it any other way.
And I don’t need a degree to prove it.