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How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter

The Mommy Brain Blog

Monday, February 27, 2006

a dollink

I was tempted to try to track down Josh Rittenberg's parents after I heard his wonderful essay today on NPR's "This I Believe" program today, and ask what on earth they did to raise such a child.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

this is totally unfair, BUT

My friend and muse, Elizabeth, just sent me this story, but I have to preface it with the fact that my wonderful spouse has stepped up to the plate once again this past week while I was away -- managing groceries, carpools, even cleaning the rat box, and never mind that I just got off the phone with my older son's teacher, reporting that he didn't do his homework ALL WEEK...............


I was out walking with my 4 year old daughter. She picked up

something off the ground and started to put it in her mouth. I

took the item away from her

and I asked her not to do that.

"Why, my daughter asked?

"Because it's been laying outside, you don't know where it's

been, it's dirty and probably has germs" I replied.

At this point, my daughter looked at me with total admiration

and asked, "Wow! How do you know all this stuff?" "Uh," .I was

thinking quickly, " All

moms know this stuff. It's on the Mommy Test. You have to know

it, or they don't let you be a Mommy."

We walked along in silence for 2 or 3 minutes, but she was

evidently pondering this new information.

"OH...I get it!" she beamed, "So if you don't pass the test you

have to be the daddy."

Sunday, February 05, 2006

einstein and motherhood

I came across a beautiful quote attributed to Albert Einstein in a story about neuroscientists and the Dalai Lama in a recent edition of the Psychotherapy Networker.
It goes like this: "A human being is a part of the whole, called by us 'Universe,' a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.

"This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation, and a foundation for inner security."

Being a stereotypical northern Californian upper-middle-class Boomer, I practice compassion in my yoga class. But I also practice it, day after day, with my children. Sometimes I succeed though more often I fail. But I do trust that practice is making me steadily more aware and maybe even better in the long run. The special potency of parental love helps give many of us the motive we might otherwise lack to try to comprehend the workings other kinds of brains -- the kinds of brains, for instance, that think it's perfectly alright to wake you up to bug you about what you'll be doing for their birthdays when their birthdays are six months away. The kind of brains that need more constant reassurance and stimulation and contact than your own, perhaps. Wouldn't it be great if parents could start to see this daily tending of our insular families as a step toward connection with the wider world?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

lots of stuff at once

Here's a wonderful L.A. Times article about the huge difference parents -- or merely parental figures -- can make, in vivid contrast to arguments a la Judith Harris that the influence of genes and peers far outweigh anything we can do.........

....An old friend, Jill Wolfson, got in touch recently after many years and has a new book for 9-12 year-olds, "What I Call Life," based a lot on Jill's long reporting on kids in foster homes and juvenile halls. Jill has always been a wonderful writer, and the book has gotten great reviews, so I've ordered it. As a bonus, you can also learn to knit on her site, though not cast.....

....In other news, I had lunch today with Bob Berner, director of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, the nation's first land trust dedicated to preserving farmland. After 20 years, the trust controls more than 35,000 acres in Marin County, 40 percent of which is still in farmland, Berner and his public relations director, Elisabeth Ptak told me. The key is buying easements which preserve the property as farmland forever; it's a great cause. I am hoping to get my two kids out to one of MALT's farms during "ski week" later this month to see if peer pressure can finally make them do chores. I'm picturing it as a potentially irresistible force meeting immovable ankle-biters...Stay tuned!