There’s a young woman on the metro smiling at me. Okay, former student. Her name starts with an S. Or maybe a P. I’m certain that either her first or last name starts with either an S or a P. Or maybe an N. She used to come to office hours every week. I’ve asked her about plans for the spring, after graduation, and she pauses for advice. Here comes that look of concentration on her face that says, “I’m trying to follow you. I’m sure you’re going to start making sense any minute now.”
If I’m at all lucky she’ll assume I’ve been smoking weed and not that I no longer have a brain.
I miss my brain. I really do. It may not have been the most brilliant one on the planet, but it was the only one I had, and it wasn’t so bad.
Absent-minded ditziness is expected from expectant mothers. But that’s not really the point at which one needs one’s mind.
Recently I locked my baby and me out of our apartment after shopping for Shabbat. When I phoned the building super, he was in Virginia, an hour and a half away. Neighbors let us hang out in their apartment. Eventually the super felt bad for us and gave us the Secret Combination to the extra key box. The duplicate key to my apartment didn’t work, of course. And, to top it off, my phone battery went dead. The nanny in the suburbs 45 minutes away has the spare.
Oh well, the neighbors had just installed a plasma television, so we watched the 10 laziest animals in the world (sloth is #1, no surprises there, but did you know #2 was the male lion?).
When people ask me if it’s hard to be a mother, I say, so far, not really. I mean, it's physically and emotionally demanding, but it's not hard. Well, it would be nice to be able to put the teething, feverish, congested sweet thing down for two seconds to use the bathroom (not to mention brush my teeth), but this is as bad as it gets. And anyway, the fever has subsided, and she’s almost back to normal.
Right now I get to sing songs like “Froggy Went A’courting” out loud in the street s of our nation’s capitol without looking at all strange. I can spend hours on the floor reading cool books and looking at wild illustrations. I can make weird food and crazy noises. And of course, because of breastfeeding, I get to eat 600 extra calories a day.
What’s hard is doing anything else: writing a book, commenting on student papers. I keep reminding myself that sleep deprivation is a means of torture. It’s okay not to be completely with it when you’ve got a baby. But I'm really worried about giving two papers at my profession's national conference this week.
I don’t blame my brain for deserting me. There is a certain amount of tedium involved with child rearing that might have bored it.
Still, if anyone sees it wandering around somewhere, please tell it that I miss it, I need it, and I love it, and I’ll be here for it whenever it decides to come home.