On Being a Mombie and Cutting Ourselves Some Slack

Questions. They’re too much pressure. I think we should make a pact right now to stop answering them.

How are you?
Do you want a receipt?
What’s for dinner?
Are you finished in the bathroom?

Sometimes I don’t know.

I’m not trying to avoid the question; I just honestly have no idea.

I’m sorry, Mr. Barista, who’s waiting patiently for an answer while the line piles up behind me. I can’t possibly decide whether I want a receipt. I already made a decision in this coffee shop. It was to order a cappuccino. Then you wanted to know whether I wanted it wet, dry or traditional. Traditional, please; I think; I don’t know. For here or to go? “For to go,” I said. Do I need a sleeve on it? “No?,” I said with conviction. 

The receipt question, though, while well-intended, is a bridge to far, man. My brain flickered and went out, and now it’s stuck in an infinity loop. Do I want a receipt? Do I want a receipt? In this scenario — complete brain meltdown — I’m having trouble processing what a receipt is, much less whether I want one.

It’s not your fault, Mr. Barista. You’re doing a great job.

The problem is me. Or not me, really. It’s the brain lump. Called motherhood. A big, old lump of motherhood right there in the middle of my brain. It’s progressive, this motherhood, and it causes my brain to respond unpredictably, running enthusiastically at warp speed or grinding gears to full stop. Moderation? Steady as she goes? Pffttt. These things are dead to me.

Sometimes this erratic brain of mine is good for a thousand questions like it should be in the Gifted and Talented Program for Moms, raising its hand at the front of the class and ooh ooh OOH, pick me-ing.

More often, my brain shuts down at the first question of the day, all slack-jawed and put-upon like a grumpy teenager. I think it’s faking. Playing dead. Hoping I’ll leave it alone and let it sleep in. And I’m stuck telling my brain that my kid just needs to know where his undies went, and, honestly, can’t it do this one thing to help out around here? But, no. It can’t. Infinity loop: Where is his underwear? Where is his underwear? What does the word underwear even mean? Why am I standing in the laundry room again?

Here’s what I want to say. My whole point, really.

If you ever feel like a mombie, or a space cadet, or like your brain is stuck in the middle of the highway and all the other brains are zooming past you; if you ever feel like you should be more present, more in the moment, but you can’t get your brain to turn over; you are not alone.

It’s OK.

It’s OK to be a space cadet. It’s OK to have a stuttering brain. It’s OK to have a lump called motherhood — or whatever — that takes over cognitive function or sometimes just shuts it down. It’s OK if the lump has moved to your heart so it goes fluttery and soft and terrified in rapid, missed-beat succession. It’s OK if it’s moved to your lungs and affects the very air you breathe.

It’s OK.

Your brain will be back at the front of the class in no time. Or eventually. Cross my heart. In the meantime, let’s all cut ourselves some slack.


Yeah; don’t answer that. 😉


I’d ask you all if you ever feel this way or to share your mombie experiences, but, you know, questions. They’re hard. If your brain is working at warp speed today, feel free to tell us a story about a time it wasn’t. Especially the one about how you almost went to work in your tights and no skirt; that one’s a classic. For the rest of us momrades who want to encourage each other even though our brains are stalled, we can just wave at each other, like this:



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158 responses to “On Being a Mombie and Cutting Ourselves Some Slack”

  1. YES. I love all the comments too. My husband is just shaking his head at my hysterical giggles.

    A few weeks ago I was making dinner and had the compost bin sitting next to the mixing bowl on the counter. The first couple eggs went flawlessly. The third got tapped on the counter, cracked open, and emptied…into the compost bin. Luckily my brain said, “Wait, what?” before the shell went into the mixing bowl.

    Just recently I was scrambling to get the 6yo to PT on time, loaded him and the 3-month-old up in the truck, left the middle two with my Mom… Realized when we got there that I hadn’t buttoned any of my shirt buttons. That’s ok, baby in moby wrap will hide that. Realized when I took her out to nurse her during the appt that I had no pads in my bra. That’s ok, baby in moby wrap will hide milk leakage too. Forgot to brush hair…maybe since night before. That’s ok, these people are used to seeing me scruffy. When did I last brush my teeth? Ugh, can’t remember. Thank goodness for the strong mint gum in my purse. Rummage through diaper bag…CRAP. My purse is on the kitchen counter, isn’t it. Good thing they already have all our info. Just don’t get pulled over on the way home…or hope for a cop with kids!

    A few months ago we (husband, 15-month-old, and pregnant self) were in Frankfurt en route from Orlando to Kyiv for our adoption. I hustled to a ladies’ room only to find it closed for cleaning. Another woman, observing my big belly and obvious discomfort, told me to just go in the gents’ room. I stared at her blankly, trying to process what she’d said. So she asked me–in English–whether I spoke English. I do speak English. A lot of English. I was born in the USA and English is my first and primary language. But after another moment of blank stare, what came out of my mouth was, IN UKRAINIAN, “A little.” Hey, at that moment, it was obviously the truth!

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