Monday, May 09, 2005

Mother's Day (better late than never)

This is your brain on Motherhood (New York Times op-ed piece on Sunday)

The above article is just the latest press that Katherine Ellison has succeeded in getting for her new book "The Mommy Brain: How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter." Basically, her thesis seems to be that rather than the commonly perceived intellectual decline associated parenthood, having kids actually makes you smarter, by challenging your brain in new ways.

A few of my thoughts on the subject:
  1. I am distressed to learn that not only are women perceived to be less worthy of jobs because they might have priorities other than career (e.g. kids), they are also perceived to less mentally capable of doing the job because they have been (or are) pregnant. As if I didn't see enough roadblocks for women already.
  2. Some of Ms. Ellison's examples seem rather obvious. Motherhood makes rats better at doing mazes because they have better time management skills. Who doesn't know that mothers succeed in doing things faster and more efficiently her childless counterparts? They have too; they have a baby waiting to be nursed or child needing to picked up from school.
  3. I say Yay to us getting smarter as we have kids. I'm going to need all the smarts I can get to keep up with a demanding career and demanding kids.
  4. Big kudos to Ms. Ellison for all of the publicity her book is getting. The NY Times article is at least the third I've seen on her book. Besides, most men aren't going to read a book called the mommy brain, and most mothers don't have time. So at least this way her research is getting attention.
So does "pregnancy brain" exist? Does "mommy brain" exist? Is anyone reading the book?


Writer Chica said...

Interesting article. To respond to your questions of whether a pregnancy brain or mommy brain exists, it would be prudent to define what we mean by those. I don't feel like being prudent. Instead, I will just mention how my "brain" has changed since pregnancy and motherhood claimed me. My focus and priorities have changed. I am a much better person because of my son. He keeps the focus off of me and teaches me patience and requires that I be creative about solving problems (like how do I get him to eat his veggies??) Plus he makes me ultra-attentive which helps lots in my writing. I have learned so many useful ways to enjoy life and to pay attention to what really matters and what doesn't.
Anyway, it is good to see a book like this out.

ScienceWoman said...

Tonight I was visiting with my friend K and her 3-month old son. I told her about this book, and asked for her thoughts. She said that having a child has definitely made her smarter. She is learning all of things her child is learning, (how to breast feed, how to roll over, how to smile), but from an adult perspective. I am not sure exactly what she meant by this, but she sounded wise. And I was jealous.