Review: “The Mommy Brain”

October 30, 2008 at 7:59 am (Baby Stuff) (, , , )

So for the last few weeks, I’ve been making my way through “The Mommy Brain: How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter” by Katherine Ellison. It’s taken me this long because I read the book in little bits & pieces, while eating or before bed, and I’m one of those people who reads several books at a time so I can always turn to a new subject if I want.

This book has been absolutely fascinating. Although quite scientific in nature, everything is written simply enough for even the most science-phobic person to understand; there aren’t a whole lot of scientific terms used, but nearly every time there is, a quick explanation follows (for example, oxytocin is mentioned often, and even when you haven’t read about it for three chapters the book will remind you that this is the hormone linked with mother-child bonding). I really enjoyed reading about the experiments with rats, even if I don’t want to think about myself being just like one; still, there’s something really stunning about the primal connection that mothers share no matter what — our evolutionary urge to nurture, love, and protect. And there’s no denying the test results that show how having a litter fundamentally changes the rat mother’s brain, just like having a baby changes the human mother’s!

Have you ever felt like your “mommy brain” leaves you forgetful and dazed? Okay, but do you realize how creative you’ve gotten in your problem-solving and communication skills, how much more empathic you’re becoming when “reading” other people, and how naturally multi-tasking comes to you? Anecdotes sprinkled throughout this book reminded me of the common sense intelligence that mothers have in spades — one in particular made me laugh and laugh. A woman talks about taking a drive down a mountainside with her son, who starts yelling “MOMMY! MY VOICE IS GETTING QUIET!” She assures him that it isn’t, but he’s panicking: “MOMMY! SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH MY VOICE! IT’S TOO QUIET!” And then she realizes — the change in pressure from them coming down off the mountain means that he needs to pop his ears, which is why he thinks his voice is getting quiet; she tells him to swallow, he does, and he’s happy because his voice is “back to normal”.

This book was easy to read and as I mentioned, great even in small bites. The chapters are all tightly focused and broken up into separate headers, so it’s easy to read a page or two, get through a certain section, toss in your bookmark and go on with daily life. I will definitely pick it up again in two years or so, to re-read and see which things I’ve noticed changing in my life. I’d recommend this to any mom or mom-to-be — it made me feel so proud and happy about all the uncontrollable, hormone-related things that I have coming to me, and made me realize even more what an amazing process of change my own mother went through.

I don’t know if I’ve ever loved you so much as I do now that I’m going through this whole pregnancy thing, mommy 🙂

Now listening to: Lamb, “Gabriel”


  1. Gala said,

    Great…you made me have teary eyes and picky nose…
    So–now you are getting to know in stages how much I love you..just wait until that baby is here and see how you feel then!

  2. Cristin said,

    I always thought my kids made me stupid…. I don’t think I’ve completed a thought in 5.5 years…;

  3. Cara said,

    I’m with Cristin, I swear my IQ has gone down 50 points since I had the baby.

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