I finished pumping my gas and jumped in my car when the white of my husband’s sedan caught my eye as it pulled up beside me. I rolled down the window because, well, sometimes I have to talk to him (I probably wanted money). After our so-engaging-that-I-can’t–remember-it conversation, I proceeded to roll up the window with my right hand, reaching across my body because my left hand was busy doing something... I continued to roll the window up until I felt the crushing pain of my left hand being wedged between the window and its final destination.
Yes, I managed to roll my own hand up in the window.
It took me a minute to process what happened before I made any attempt to free myself. With my brain yelling unpleasant things at me, I reached for the button to release my hand from the evil window, but instead of rolling it down, I accidentally rolled it up and sent another wave of crushing pain through my hand. When I finally got my hand out from the window’s clutches, I looked around to see who had witnessed my moment of utter lunacy. Thankfully, the coast was clear! I sped out of the gas station with a new awareness – my brain was, or IS, mush.
Popular media has suggest a cure for parental “mushy brain syndrome” – a hobby. An article in Parent & Child magazine entitled, “Like Riding a Bicycle”, listed tips on how to find yourself again “in the sometimes messiness of motherhood.” Author, Amy Levin-Epstein, provided several tips in categories like “Be A Role Model”, under which she states “maybe you [the mother] should join an art class, a sports team, or a foreign language-learning club.” Her suggestions continue in the “Think About The Long Run” section where she proposes “…waiting tables on the weekends while your little ones are at soccer practice.” This is it; this is supposed to rebuild the pile of mush occupying my skull? It is hard for me to believe that having a mommy hobby or obtaining a stressful job as a waitress for an hour while my kids are at practice will add enough value to my life to be meaningful.
If I have to think about the long run, such as when I am an empty nester, I don’t want to be left with empty hobbies. I want a career. I want a sense of success. I want to live by my definition of success, which extends beyond raising productive members of society – although that is it’s own very important kind of success. I realize success doesn’t happen overnight. I know that first I need to resurrect the part of my brain that has been longing for intelligent conversation and debate of dynamic ideas but where do I start?!
As I write, I am sitting in an uncomfortable chair at a table in my local bookstore. Not too far away, there are seven women ranging from mid-30’s to late 50’s who have obviously gathered for a book club meeting. Well, I guess the book club was their excuse to get together. However, with some eavesdropping, I heard very little discussion of the book. I heard much more laughter and several bouts of running amok with tangents ranging from pedicures to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell military policy to eating boogers for breakfast to where to get your cat spade.
This is what I need! A group of women discussing anything other than children and cleaning.
My mission is to find such a group. I vow not to talk myself out of it. I will fight the urge to cower in my closet from the fear of leaving my comfort zone and I promise to not to let the motherly routine hold me back.
I must fix my mush.