I Think My Children May Have Stolen My Brain: Is Momnesia Real?

Do you think an unborn child can suck her mother’s brains out through the umbilical cord? I realize this sounds “scientifically impossible,” but hear me out.

Momnesia title

I used to be pretty smart. OK, I shouldn’t be so modest. I was kind of a super brain. (My mom will  back me up on this.) Now, I don’t want to get braggy or anything, but I have a Master’s Degree. And I used to hold some important jobs.

When I was a Social Worker, I could recite the portion of the Code of Maryland Regulations that pertained to treatment foster care, practically word for word. I could tell you family history, diagnosis, and recommended treatment for any one of my clients without looking at their files. And I came up with some pretty brilliant ideas in their treatment plans, if I do say so myself.

As an HIV/AIDS Policy Analyst (Senior Policy Analyst, mind you), I was always familiar with all the newsy, wonky stuff going on in HIV Prevention. I understood the nuances behind important-sounding stuff, like The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Advancing HIV Prevention: New Strategies for a Changing Epidemic.” I wrote papers and presented them at conferences. I attended national strategic policy meetings and people asked me for my opinion. For crying out loud, there were actual professional smart people who sought me out to give a guest lecture to a public health class at Johns Hopkins University and a keynote address at a state-wide public health conference in Nevada. And I’m not even from Nevada!

I’m not saying all this to impress you with my brilliance. Just to draw a contrast. Because, see, I’m not sure I could do any of that stuff anymore. Today I’m lucky if I both get to my daughter’s school for pick up without getting lost and drive us all home to the right house.

Yesterday, I went to the gym to squeeze in a quick workout while my big kid was at school. I dropped the little ones in the gym’s babysitting room and took a look at the kid’s fitness schedule for the day. (My gym has awesome fitness classes for toddlers.) The 2-year-old class was just about ready to start, so I signed Raymond up. The 4-year-old class wasn’t for another hour and a half, so I figured Sophia was out of luck for today. A little while later, Angie, the kid’s fitness instructor, came up to a woman who was working out next to me and said she was going to take her kid to the 3-year-old class that was about ready to start, because nobody else  had signed up for 4-year-olds. I said, “Oh, great! Can you take Sophia too? I didn’t sign her up because the 4-year-old class was so late.” Angie said, “Sure.” A few minutes later, Angie came back and said, “Nicole, I love you, but I think you may be losing your mind.” And surely I am, because I didn’t bring Sophia to the gym that day. I dropped her off at pre-school. Right before I came to the gym. I dropped her off, drove to the gym without her, looked at a class list, and felt sorry that she couldn’t go. Yes, I am losing my mind.

And my poor dog. I frequently let her out for a quick pee before the kids and I head off to school or shopping or the park or wherever, and then just completely forget to let her back in. (Lucy is not a dog that likes to hang outside by herself, mind you.) And when my husband is out of town, I’ve been known to forget to feed her for up to a day and a half.

I once saw an episode of Dr. Phil about some condition called Momnesia. (This is a real thing, I swear!) They had a new mother on who kept doing absent-minded stuff like leaving the door to the fridge open and forgetting how many scoops of formula she’d put in the bottle so far. I was like, “That’s me! I have Momnesia! Help me, Dr. Phil!” Unfortunately, Dr. Phil said that Momnesia only lasts up to 6 months. I’ve had it for 5 1/2 years. I’m running out of excuses.

This brings me back to my original thesis, that my children have stolen my brain. Let’s review the evidence. Before kids, I did a bunch of really smart stuff. After kids, I can’t find my own house or remember what I did 15 minutes ago.

Plus, my kids are really smart! I know they stole my brains, because all that smart stuff I used to think seems to have transferred itself to the insides of those tiny little heads. (Or in Raymond’s case, that humongous head that I’m very proud of birthing.)

Here is an actual, not-made-up conversation that took place in my house:

Me: Did your butterfly hatch from its cocoon yet?

Emma: It’s called a crysalis.

Me: Butterflies don’t hatch from cocoons?

Emma: Cocoons are for moths. Butterflies come out of a crysalis.

Sophia glasses 3

Emma and Sophia reading
Emma and Sophia reading

Plus, Sophia started reading just a few months after her 3rd birthday, and Emma could read at 4 1/2.

Not just children’s books either. They can read signs, instruction manuals, history books, the Bible, nutrition labels. This is Sophia when I told her she could choose one box of cereal. She wanted to make sure it didn’t have too much sugar.

Sophia nutrition label

And here’s 2-year-old Raymond when I found him with one of those outlet cover plugs in his hands: “It’s choking hazard, Mommy. Don’t put in your mouth.” Thanks, bud. I’ll keep that in mind.

Of course, since he’s the third kid, there may not have been as many brain cells left for him to suck out, because he also did this to his head:

Raymond head in gate

That may also be because my husband does  this to him:

Just a little beer
Just a little beer

But you know, now that I think about it. I am the one who taught them how to read. Sophia didn’t just start checking nutrition labels one day. She learned it by watching me. And Raymond would have no idea what a choking hazard was if I weren’t constantly telling him to keep them out of his mouth. Plus, I am becoming quite versed on child development and emergency room procedures (that’s another story).

If nothing else, I’ve produced three pretty smart kids. The world needs more of those.

Do you have any Momnesia moments to share? Please let me know in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you!

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16 thoughts on “I Think My Children May Have Stolen My Brain: Is Momnesia Real?

  1. Yes – I verify Nicole is an amazing, smart, brilliant, and super high IQ wonder daughter – as is her sister, Mary, who, after she watched the Wizard of Oz, told everyone,”I’ve got brains! I’ve got brains!” For at least weeks, if not months. Cutest thing!


  2. It’s not a matter of stealing your brains, the kids have stolen your focus. It’s easy to learn things, even complicated things, if you can devote yourself exclusively to thinking about that thing. When you spread your attention over several things, especially at the same time, mistakes get made.

    When part of your brain is saying “When do I need to leave the gym to pick up Sophia from pre-school?”, the part of your brain that says “Hey, I bet Sophia would like this class at the gym.” doesn’t get the message that Sophia is actually at pre-school, not the gym.

    It’s like juggling. When you get one more ball than you can handle, you drop all of the balls, not just the “one too many” ball.


  3. As a mother of 4 22-29-year-olds I experience(d) the same thing. Before I had children I returned my library books on time, always appeared for medical/dental/eye appointments, and remembered where I was going when I got to the stoplight at the corner of our street. While pregnant, I reasoned that the blood flow had been siphoned from my brain to prosper the child in my womb. Later, I settled on the theory that childbirth–much like getting drunk–kills brain cells. Thank God scientists tell us we have Nevada-barren landscapes of unused brain territory. So, I’m playing my share and six other people’s of online Scrabble–my personal plan to develop the Nevada in my brain into Maui.

    We met on Twitter, and you sound like my kind of gal. I read & loved The God’s In Alabama. I SO have to read From a Grown Up Kind of Pretty. Thanks for the tip.

    Happy momming!


    1. Thanks so much for your comment Ann! Glad to know your intellect seems to have returned. Maybe there’s hope for me! 🙂

      I definitely recommend A Grown Up Kind of Pretty, and just about anything from Joshilyn Jackson. She’s incredible!


  4. Have you had your Cortisol level checked? I have adrenal insufficiency and even with treatment of Hydrocortisone I still have memory problems on my bad days. Please get checked for this disease!! You can die if you have this and do not get treatment in a crises. It is caused by longterm stress. The treatment is too easy not to check.


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