jen groeber: mama art

4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.

Mama lost her brain… again.

Today, cleaning out my e-mail from weeks ago, I re-read an e-mail from one of my college roommates.

We’d had a girl’s weekend in Washington, D.C. complete with walks to all the monuments, sushi and a crazy spin class during which I almost threw up in the dark to the sound of Katy Perry imploring me to be a hero, not a zero.


My kids said, “Martin Luther King had a dream there!”
I’m the one in the black Mom coat.
April 2014

It was an awesome weekend of rejuvenation. Truly. Too much saké, and all of us lamenting and celebrating our insidious aging- it was brilliant. Also, I stole my roommate’s Metro card. The one from her boss, the judge or the president or someone important. I don’t know exactly who gave it to her, but I do know that it’s worth money, lots and lots of money, and she wanted it back. Like five weeks ago.


Yes, I know my college roommates haven’t aged.
April 2014

So here’s the thing. I don’t remember reading that part of the string of e-mails of thanks and hahahas that followed. I don’t remember finding her card (although I do remember shoving it in my pocket somewhere in a D.C. subway) and I don’t remember sticking it in an envelope and scribbling her address on it and mailing said envelope back to D.C. No idea.


Somewhere on a subway in D.C.
April 2014

I’ve just checked my pockets, my wallet, my handbag and the Metro card has left the building, my building anyway. And so now I’ve sent an e-mail to my college bud, the one who’s a successful lawyer, who speaks Russian fluently and was the anchor on her high school quizbowl national championship team, and I await her response. Did I or did I not return the Metro card? In my e-mail I misspelled dementia, by the way.

Mama lost her brain… again.

I just texted a babysitter to ask her if she could babysit for us tomorrow night. Because it’s so easy to find an available sitter when it’s now Thursday and I need the sitter for Friday. In my text I wrote, “I know you must be dick of us, but any chance you’d be free to sit Friday from 6:00-9:30?” No joke.

She was actually just over last night for date night. And believe it or not, we ran into her mother at the restaurant while we were out. I’m not sure what I was expecting her mother to look like. Our date-night babysitter is a gorgeous, bright, educated, grown-up 21 year-old. She is a fully formed, amazing human being. And her mother? Equally gorgeous. Also? MY AGE! Seriously. If we’d gone to the same high school she would have been on my field hockey team. We’re the SAME AGE, people. I could be a parent of a  21 year-old instead of a 3 year-old. Yes, I will have another glass of wine, thank you.

I’m not sure exactly how it all ties together (because my brain can no longer make swooping, lyrical connections apparently) but there’s something going on here.

I think I might be aging. And forgetting things. And losing my mind, or at least the capacity to use it in normal, functioning ways.

But if I’m going to be fair to myself (Or is it fare? Oh, wait. Fare would be the Metro card…) perhaps this early-onset-dementia  is not my brain, but rather, my circumstances, the conditions under which my poor, brittle, gelatinous brain is attempting to function. (And yes, my brain is both brittle and gelatinous, like my osteopenia bones, thanks.)

Because during the time I’ve been writing this I’ve wiped three butts and discussed the possibility of designing a monster truck car with skull decorations that could continue to drive even when the wheels come off. It would only cost a dollar, by the way, in case you’re interested. And I helped stick stickers on flying fairy princesses who are only wearing underpants until you sticker them. I mean, I’m literally looking at half-naked fairies and writing this. At the same time. Literally.


The view from my computer
Fairies in panties
April 2014

I’ve also texted three more babysitters for tomorrow night. And I tried not to use the word “dick.”

Maybe some days it’s all a little too much. Maybe when I think I have dementia because I can’t remember how I spent a Saturday before I had kids, it’s because I was doing almost nothing before I had kids, just making jewelry and watching ten consecutive episodes of TLC’s What Not to Wear or 50 First Dates for the 50th time. (Interestingly, that movie is about a woman who has a brain injury that makes her unable to acquire any new memories. I am currently astounded that the geriatric gerbil in my brain went and retrieved that perfectly fitting movie from my intellectual archives.)

So I’m realizing that although I’m a mother of four young children, I am no longer (and perhaps never was) a young mother of four young children; no, I will leave that claim to fame to my mother. I am even perhaps, an old mother of four young children. And what with the PTA or the school auction or the half marathon or the art show or the trip here or the driving them there or the art projects or the team sport or yes, even the blog, maybe we Mamas are all just doing a little too much to do any of it exactly as well as we’d like.

And for now, I say, that’s okay.

17 comments on “Mama lost her brain… again.

  1. dvb415
    April 4, 2014


    • jgroeber
      April 10, 2014

      It was the text to the babysitter that got you, am I right? She’s such a class act, but still. Zoiks!

  2. Kelly L McKenzie
    April 4, 2014

    “I’m the one in the black Mom coat.” Too. Funny.

    Oh you are on the forgetful momma train. There are so many things to look forward to! The best bit? Chatting with your pals about all the things you’ve forgotten recently. We do it all the time, my friends and I. Funny how we can remember them yet forget why we went downstairs …

    • jgroeber
      April 10, 2014

      I love that you got it. Because my husband mentioned liking the post but then he gently pointed out that “Um, just so you know. In that picture? All of you have black coats…” And when I said that was the point, he said he didn’t get it. It’s definitely a “mom coat” thing. And I never know why I went downstairs. It’s what keeps me so fit, going up and down those stairs!

  3. Miriam
    April 4, 2014

    My husband and I are both the young parents and the old parents, depending on which kids are being discussed, We’re in our mid-40’s and have a 23 and a 20 yr. old. I have to admit, it feels sort of nice having people say “wow, you look so young to have grown up kids!”
    But no one tells me I look young when I’m with my younger boys 🙂 No ego boost there. My body feels like I should be an empty-nester, but I still have another decade to go. There are many things I prefer about being an older mom though (aside from the tiredness)- I’m much more laid-back this time around.

    • jgroeber
      April 10, 2014

      What a terrific point of view you must have. You’ve lived it both ways. And while it seems a little batty on the one hand, I can also totally get how it would make absolutely perfect sense, filling the house again just as it empties. In some cultures you would have just gotten grandkids at that point.
      In the end, how both sets of kids get the “best of you”, the energetic, uptight, young version and then the slightly less energetic, more laid back, seasoned version. Win, win.

  4. jdavi339
    April 5, 2014

    Love this walks definitely a must :}

  5. Julia
    April 5, 2014

    I’m glad to know I’m not alone. Older mom, too much multi tasking and not enough sleep. 🙂

    • jgroeber
      April 10, 2014

      Right? Miss Fanny P posted something similar right around the same time I posted mine. We’re all just juggling and dodging and trying and flailing and hopefully not failing, but who knows? And where are those balls I’m juggling? Or were they cats? Or kids?
      Just keep moving is always my motto, for better or worse.

  6. Perfection Pending
    April 7, 2014

    Ugh. Totally relate. Having children really ages all of us though. I have horrible issues myself. We are all doing too much. And, right now, it’s making me want to stop doing everything and just focus on one thing. Yet, it’s utterly impossible. Sorry I’ve been MIA on your blog. I just added you to my bloglovin feed so hopefully I won’t be such a slacker!

    • jgroeber
      April 10, 2014

      Slacker? Slacker, who?! Slacker would be someone who took over a week to reply to comments. Which would be me. YAY, ME!
      It’s impossible to focus and for now I’m thinking maybe skimming this, digging deep in that, faking this, being authentic in that. I’m bound to strike some sort of balance and mostly cover my bases, right? I’ll be mindful when I’m 50. (I think I used to say I’ll be mindful when I’m 50. Oops!)

  7. Margie S
    April 12, 2014

    I think I delivered part of my brain along with my placenta – TMI? I find post it notes to be very helpful;)

    • jgroeber
      April 14, 2014

      They say your brain literally shrinks 7% in pregnancy. I think it’s supposed to swell back? Something about some sort of fat that embryos need to develop that is only found in a mother’s brain? But I think my brain shrinkage was cumulative… and permanent.

  8. adventureswiththepooh
    April 15, 2014

    What a treat to see these familiar, fun faces in this post! None of you (you included, my dear) have aged a bit. I have always been absent-minded so I’m not sure if my forgetfulness is mommy-brain or wendy-brain. Anyway…thanks for the morning laugh and the reminder that my life is no more or less ridiculous than anyone else’s! Now go throw some pants on those fairies, please.

    • jgroeber
      April 15, 2014

      Am I so right that these women have not aged?! It’s crazy!
      Of all the Mamas I read or watch on FB, or who gather the notes for her slackerly college class 😉 , you appear to be the most organized, brainy powerhouse ever, except maybe for MP pictured above. She’s nuts she’s so good!
      And I find that fairies are often pants-less in my house. Which is odd.

  9. maryannparker99
    April 21, 2014

    Just in case anyone was seriously concerned about the state of Jen’s brain (as if . . .) she put that metro card back in the mail, pronto. It’s her addle-pated roommate who didn’t have her act together to acknowledge that fact for several WEEKS. Love the post — Happy Easter Bunny bawk hawk (because I say that now, entirely because of you) xoxoxo

    • jgroeber
      April 21, 2014

      Oh, praise the Lord. I have been thinking about that Metro card for-ev-er! (After I forgot it and then remembered it, I mean.) Happy Easter Bunny, bawk, bawk!

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This entry was posted on April 4, 2014 by in Surviving Motherhood and tagged , , , , , .

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