Few parents enjoy feeling so scatterbrained, says neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain. And momnesia can be dangerous, such as when moms forget to fasten the straps in an infant’s car seat. Yet momnesia may give modern mothers an evolutionary advantage, Brizendine says.
“It turns you into someone who serves that little infant, to keep it alive no matter what,” says Brizendine, founder of the Women’s and Teen Girls’ Mood and Hormone Clinic at the University of California in San Francisco. “Other parts of your brain that are usually on high alert are sort of taken offline.”
Yeah, because being unaware of your surroundings while you focus on one particular task has always been so evolutionarily advantageous.
It seems to me, as a guy who has lots of memory lapses while taking care of an infant (to the point where I may walk downstairs to get something and have completely forgotten what it is by the time I arrive) even though my hormonal disturbances are supposedly minor, that sleep deprivation and job conditioning are easily enough to account for whatever may be going on. There’s the 15-25% of sleep lost, plus the rest of it disrupted.
Then there’s having to be prepared to drop whatever you’re doing at a moment’s notice to deal with a baby. You know those trains of thought that take 20 or 30 minutes to develop, or jobs that need several hours of uninterrupted concentration to get done right? Forget about those when you’re a primary caregiver for an infant.
But no, it must be evolution and women’s hormones.
(And I gotta say, with the example of someone who has had to rescue her kid from choking more than 20 times in 17 months: there’s a reason for keeping babies and small airway-obstructing objects apart, and prevention really is better than treatment.)