The last couple weeks, I've had 3 big meltdowns. Part of it is the general life overwhelm of being a full-time working mom, and some of it is that I insist upon living a creative and fulfilling life, even if that sometimes means some sacrifice of sleep (and downtime, honestly.)
What specifically caused the meltdowns was that I spaced on a couple work things that were outside my routine way of doing things, which triggered a shame spiral and cycle of self-doubt, and my imposter syndrome came out full force, and oh, it was bad.
I don't think I'm alone in having problems remembering stuff. A lot of my mom friends report a change in cognitive function and memory since becoming mothers. Turns out, there's some science behind this as well: motherhood really does alter the brain, but they're not quite sure how. A study shows an interesting interplay between hormones and neuroplasticity and memory. Of course, when I read this just now, I thought Oh fuck, I'm screwed forever. I'll never be able to remember things again.
But then I read some more, including what happens in the antepartum stage. As it turns out, short-term memory is definitely affected, but motherhood activates other parts of your brain: the parts that control empathy, anxiety, and social interaction. Basically, we become even more empathetic, emotionally aware, and concerned for the welfare of our babies.
The problem is that society doesn't value caregiving, emotional intelligence, or much other labor that is considered traditionally "women's work," so my inability to keep the ever-shifting details of my work and home life forefront in my brain is a real problem. There's no room in the workplace to show any sign of perceived "weakness", or to see this shift as an appropriate and natural part of my life as a mother *and* a worker.
I'm pretty annoyed about it, actually. I have a lot of internalized doubt and shame about being a working mom already, and this just complicates it further. It's so frustrating that society centers the male experience, and rarely accounts for or accommodates the female experience.
In any case, the good news for me is that my brain may indeed recover and get even stronger. Mama rats became better at mazes than non-mom rats after the pups became independent. So there's hope for us yet! And in the meantime, I'm writing every dang thing down.