This Is My Brain On Kids

I finished pumping my gas and jumped in my car when the blue of my husband’s truck 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 (in a Saab, the buttons that control the windows are in the middle between the front seats). 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 rolled my own hand up in the window. It took me a minute to process what  happened before I made any attempt to free myself.  Twitter patted, I reached down for the button but instead of rolling it down I accidentally rolled it up sending another wave of crushing pain through my hand. Once I finally got my hand out from the window’s clutches, I looked around to see if anyone had witnessed my moment of utter lunacy – the coast was clear. I rolled out of the gas station with a new awareness – my brain was mush.

For the last nine years I have gradually been losing brain cells. A slow deterioration from board games, cleaning, shuttling and bathing that has killed any intellectual thought with the constant restriction from being expressed. My brain is now reserved for elementary level homework and the precise stacking of folded socks into a pyramid.  

Magazine and web content articles have come up with a cure for scrambled egg brain – 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.

Being a role model is more than finding a diversion from a hollow life and if I have to think about the long run when I am an empty nester, I don’t want to be left with hobbies – I want a career. I want to live by my definition of success which extends beyond raising productive members of society. I realize success doesn’t happen overnight and I first need to resuscitate the part of my brain that has been longing for intelligent conversation but where do I start?

As I write this paragraph I am sitting in an uncomfortable chair at a table in my local bookstore. To my left are seven women ranging from late 40’s to late 50’s who have obviously gathered for a book club meeting, well, that was their intent. However, with some eavesdropping I heard a little discussion of the book, followed by a lot of laughter and they are now they are running wild on a tangent. This is what I need; a group of women  my age discussing anything other than children and cleaning. My mission: to find such a group. I vow not to talk myself out of it, to fight the urge to cower in my closet from the fear of leaving my comfort zone and not to let the motherly routine hold me back. I must fix my mush.

To be continued…


43 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rhonda Burkhalter
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 04:31:06

    You figure out what this group will be and I will attend! You can write some short stories and I can not only take, but develop my pictures and we can discuss! See, 2 hobbies, that are likely enjoyable careers in their early stages. Ah ha!


    • Torie Combest
      Sep 13, 2010 @ 04:45:40


      Hopefully I can find a book club or something, I will let you know. If I wrote fiction we could definitely start our own group. Unfortunately, I lack the imagination that it takes to produce a fiction book. Maybe we can come up with something else – I will think about it this week. Love to see your comments, thanks.


  2. Melanie
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 04:35:27

    Oh, honey, I love your blog! I just absolutely love it. It makes me laugh, and think about my life as well. It’s funny to read about another mom who longs for the same type of things I do. I encouraged you on Momster to write a book, and I really think that you should go for it. You have so much talent, it’d be a shame not to. The world needs your perspective on life, and I do, too!


    • Torie Combest
      Sep 13, 2010 @ 04:55:29


      I was about to go to bed when my phone went off and after reading your message I had to respond. Thank you so much. Your compliments have made my night (technically day, since it is 1am here). I do have plans to write a book. Still in the brainstorming process but I plan on getting started within a month. Thanks again, your compliments mean the world to me.


  3. Us@NTOFA
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 09:52:48

    Stopping over from Bloggy Moms.

    I can so relate with this. I feel the effects of mushy brain syndrome on a daily basis. I’m hoping once my youngest goes to school, my gray matter won’t be so far gone that I can perhaps go back to college and maybe slap together some coherent thoughts of my own. A book club seems like a great idea if you can get everyone to focus. 😉


    • Torie Combest
      Sep 13, 2010 @ 12:20:14


      My youngest just started preschool this year and it has helped with being able to do some things I like. I hope I can find a book club with similar interest and it is ok if they can’t stay focused, as long as we are not discussing cleaning supplies. Thanks for commenting.


  4. MusingMom
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 12:03:37

    I don’t have any good advise, I just hope you can find some peace. I was sort of in this position in January when I started my first blog. I didn’t get it together till July, but things are moving.

    I do know what you mean about conversation. I am sufficing right now doing this.



    • Torie Combest
      Sep 13, 2010 @ 12:28:04


      The blog helps with slipping some intellectual thoughts throughout my day but I am looking for a little more. I just basically want to know that I am still human and I am not trapped in the house. Hopefully I will find what I am looking for this week. Thanks for commenting.


  5. Anna
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 12:58:10

    Such a delightful post. But you know, that time when the job is so brainless – THAT’S when the writing seed needs to be planted. Let your hands fold the socks, they know how by now. Put your brain into gear with whatever the story may be. Then, at some point when it’s quiet, pour it out on a document in your computer. It’s so much fun to write.


    • MusingMom
      Sep 13, 2010 @ 13:10:39

      I have done this, I get in a hurry to write and I either don’t get the socks done or send myself an email on my phone till I can get back to it. :o)


      • Torie Combest
        Sep 13, 2010 @ 13:15:23

        Gotta love the MemoPad on the phones. When I am busy doing something and a good sentence pops in my head, I go to mempad type it in. My favorite place to write down ideas is in the car rider line at my kids school. It is usually the place when creativity strikes. On my way there now.

    • Torie Combest
      Sep 13, 2010 @ 13:10:48


      Thank you. My brain is constantly writing, it is a passion of mine but I would just like a chance to get out of the house more. Not with playdates or volunteering in school but some real adult time. I think it would be a nice getaway from the everyday. Thanks for commenting.


  6. Julie
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 13:09:29

    You capture it all! What a pleasure to read……..



  7. PartlySunny
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 13:20:52

    Waitressing. Huh. I managed to avoid that all through college. Why would I want to do that now? Wait. . . that IS what I do now! All day long (I exaggerate — the kids are back in school, so it’s been cut down to waitress in the mornings and evenings, interspersed with maid, errand girl, personal shopper, laundress. . .)


    • Torie Combest
      Sep 13, 2010 @ 18:59:18

      Could you imagine how stressed you would feel if you had to waitress on top of doing all we do in a day? It wouldn’t make me feel better at all, a matter of fac,t it stresses me out just thinking about it. It makes you wonder if the author has children. I know she had good intentions but…


  8. akbutler
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 13:39:48

    I’m with ya. My brain is toast too. I’ve been told that each kid sucks more brain cells from you. not the nicest way to put it, but it does seem to apply.
    I’m with PartlySunny though – waitressing would not do it for me. But the women’s group – perfect. I hope you find it, and if you don’t, you should start one. Not a book group, not a mom’s group, but just a group. I’m guessing there would be several women around you that are feeling the same way. Just look at all of us here who want to join!
    good luck!


    • Torie Combest
      Sep 13, 2010 @ 18:53:15


      I believe that each kid kills brain cells, I have three kids and probably three brain cells left. I have thought about starting my own SAHM’s group – kind of a support group for our sanity. I am going to look to see what is out there and if I find nothing I may just start my own. Thanks for the suggestion. If you are close to Louisville, Kentucky, I would love for you to join.


  9. Melissa Romo
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 14:38:30

    Torrie! You’re a great writer. I loved these essays and man, can I relate. If someone hasn’t suggested yet, check for writer’s groups that might meet near your home. Sometimes the only thing that keeps me anchored in a writing career is knowing I have to write something for the next critique group. There are lots of other types of meetings too and happily, sometimes they don’t talk at all about kids!! Good luck and keep at it. Your brain will re-grow, I’m sure. 😉 (And sounds like there’s a lot more there than you think.)


    • Torie Combest
      Sep 13, 2010 @ 18:48:28


      Thank you so much. I have heard of and I am going to check it out tonight, thanks for reminding me. I will let you know what I find. I hope to hear from you again.


  10. Marcy
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 14:50:34

    Reading this reminded me of why I signed up for a 13 week course called The Artist’s Way that starts in a few weeks. I have to take care of ME! Nobody else will. I’ve also realized with great dispair that I have to become a morning person to take care of me first thing in the morning BEFORE the herd awakens and puts in their morning breakfast orders and then some! YES!! Finding other like hearted souls that are willing to talk about ANYTHING other than marriages, children, cleaning, and the latest sales … are JEWELS and are worth looking forward to spending time with when we feel that ebb and flow of overwhelmness!

    Glad to feel “heard” and validated in making room for Mommy on this ship I’m steering … along with my co-parent of course … but we all know how *that* goes. Mama has to lead. Motivate. Remind. Refresh. Prompt. Scold. Discipline. Etc. THEN we rewind and do it all over again with each kid. We have 5. Sooooo….cannot wait for my class to carve out MY time, space and aliven my soul! Then I come home able to give from a full heart vs. resentment that I take better care of them than me.

    Thanks for writing this … makes me think I have some things to share too!!

    ~ Marcy

    PS. WE can start our own women’s group – live near the Portland Oregon area? If not … good ‘ol on-line. 😉


    • Torie Combest
      Sep 13, 2010 @ 18:46:00


      The art class sounds great. I do not live near Oregon, I am in Kentucky but an online group sounds interesting. Maybe we can get something together. Email me if you ever want to exchange ideas.

      Thanks for commenting. I hope to hear from you.


  11. Serene -
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 18:47:44

    I think a book club or some other kind of peer group is a great idea. Also, a not-too-stressful volunteer job might be good. I have a women’s cancer center down the block from me, and they’ve been a good place to have a low-pressure volunteer job.


  12. jass
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 19:00:51

    Okay, Mommy mush brain, yup I have that. Here is what I did today. Raced to the local community center to find a woman named Candice because she sent out an email saying she would be there at 4:30 and we could drop chqs off for basketball registration. Got the the center, borrowed a pen to write out 1/2 the chq because I couldn’t remember the fees. Flew up the stairs to the gym and asked a few kids playing basketball if they knew anyone named Candice. Nope. Back down stairs to the first rink, empty. Across the way to the second rink, meet ladies in the hall, ” Are any of you Candice?” . Nope. So I go inside another freezing cold rink and hit the stands and ask several more ladies if they are Candice. Nope. Finally, a group of ladies try to help me. No luck. Finally I decide to check the email once more and to my surprise( but not really) the email was for Sunday not Monday. I was so pissed off for wasting my time and still not getting his registration paid for. This is not a first. I can’t tell you how many times I show up to Dr. apppointments on the wrong days. Ahh, Mommy mush brain. Why drink??


    • Torie Combest
      Sep 13, 2010 @ 22:57:17


      Sounds like a typical day at my house as well. We read it but it doesn’t sink in because we have so many other things to think about.

      Thanks for commenting.


  13. Wendy Irene (Give Love Create Happiness)
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 19:33:03

    Great idea! How about putting together a meet-up of local bloggers in your area? The times I have been to similar events I had a blast!


  14. heather
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 23:54:23

    I LOVE IT! I would love to feature you as a column in my eMagazine! & on my website! Email me



  15. Kelly
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 11:23:42

    I need this too…but how bout a different kind of group? Why not just simply get together to discuss career goals or personal goals (maybe more like a bucket list of goals). That way we can encourage one another as we grasp for and eventually, hopefully, achieve them! I have a budding custom jewelry business that is still in it’s infancy and kinda feel like no one wants to hear about it. I always said that in my twenties I built my family and now my thirties will go toward building my career. I would very much like to focus my 40s on traveling…hmmm…takes money and lots of it. Gotta go, I have a two year old requesting a diaper change…shit! (pun intended)….


    • Torie Combest
      Sep 16, 2010 @ 11:52:14


      That sounds like a great idea for a group. I think I am in the process of starting a group of some kind with a couple of local moms. It would be on Monday nights, maybe once a month or so. Not many details yet but if you would like to join us let me know. Thanks for commenting.


  16. Leslie
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 11:30:23

    Aw, I’m so glad I found your blog (and this post) (from BlogFrog, btw). I, too, struggle with the same thing. But my hesitation is in meeting new people – not so good at that.

    This gives me more motivation and inspiration to actually try! Now I’m off to scour MeetUp and see what there is (hope there’s an Artists Way group, like one of your commenters joined).


    • Torie Combest
      Sep 16, 2010 @ 11:55:24


      I have a little anxiety about people new people as well. I think being a writer and an introvert go hand-in-hand. Even though I am content on my own, I crave that interaction. I am interested to see how it goes for the both of us. Keep me informed.


  17. S
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 15:52:38

    SO glad I am not alone! I recently gave up a job I LOVED to stay home with my kids and take care of my family. There were complications that made the job not worth the cost, if that makes sense. I swear some days I can feel my brain shrinking. I would love to have “me” time, but as we all know – its few and far between. Too exhausted to utilize it anyway. I adore my kids and know this is the right thing for my family. Just hope I don’t get lost in the process. Thanks for listening…


    • Torie Combest
      Sep 16, 2010 @ 16:00:35

      Staying at home is a hard job that can bury you before you even realize what happened. Join us in finding more “me” time – even if it is just going for a walk just to recharge. Let me know if you find something that works. Thanks for stopping by.


  18. Amy
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 22:53:11

    love your blog…The title to this post is awesome – Love it! I can relate…I am visiting from Bloggy Moms…I am now following you. Please stop by and visit my blog @ . I am on both Networked Blogs and Google Connect; I would appreciate the follow. Thanks, Amy


  19. urban muser
    Sep 17, 2010 @ 10:53:32

    hope your hand is feeling better. maybe you could pick up a craft like knitting? it gives your mind something to do, and you can always find a knitting group to meet with once in a while to satisfy that part of it. just a thought.


  20. Gina
    Sep 17, 2010 @ 20:14:32

    I think whoever wrote that book is an idiot. Waiting tables is going to make you calmer, smarter and more devoted to your kids? NOT!

    Good luck on the book club or whatever you end up finding. I know that the group of women I socialize with from my church are my lifeline.


    • Torie Combest
      Sep 17, 2010 @ 22:41:30


      The person that wrote that is seriously misinformed. It makes you wonder if she has kids or has ever been a waitress. Thank you so much, i may need the luck just to make it out of the house.


  21. Karyn Climans
    Sep 17, 2010 @ 20:57:20

    The person who suggested the waitressing job during your kids’ soccer games is a lunatic. Now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest … I used to feel like you do. I am very well educated (2 university degrees) but I felt I was a totally stupid idiot who had lost the ability to concentrate on anything of any meaning when my kids were younger. Flash forward to today … I started my own business almost 5 years ago. I now have a successful company that sells my products (which I design and market) internationally. Believe it or not, your brain hasn’t become mush. All of the knowledge is still lodged in your brain cells, it’s just hiding under a cloud at the moment.
    Hang in there. They eventually grow up!
    I’m here from Blog Frog. is my company’s website. is my blog site.


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