welcome to mom brain

Welcome to Mom Brain!

You look surprised!

Maybe you thought, because she's a mom, that her Mom Brain was a squishy pink labyrinth of feelings and Disney song lyrics.

Maybe you thought that Mom Brain looked like your mom's kitchen, the way you remember it from your childhood: the smell of potato soup in the air, snow falling gently outside the window, the counters gleaming, the dishwasher humming softly in the corner.

Maybe you thought Mom Brain was just an empty room with deep outlines on the carpet from where the gym equipment used to sit.


Mom Brain isn't squishy. It isn't cozy. And it's sure as hell not empty.

Mom Brain is Mission Control.

It's a giant room filled with banks of screens. You might have noticed that it smells like hot electronics in here, and something is always flashing, beeping, or about to flash and beep.

There is a meter, a gauge, and a monitor for everything.


But don't take my word for it! Let me show you around.

Right up front, here's the gauge for "How Did the Kids Sleep Last Night."

notice all the little gauges
under the big one?
those are the gauges that mark:
what time they got quiet
when they fell asleep
when you fell asleep
when they woke up in the middle of the night
and when they woke up for keeps
before the dawn

It's conveniently placed right next to the laminated chart that displays the needs of any given activity, and expenditure of energy that each task or excursion will take for both child and parent.


Chicken has school today.

- He will need to eat breakfast, get dressed, get his backpack together, and get into the car.

- Approximate expenditure of Mom Energy: 7,000 kcal

- Approximate percentage of Chicken Goodwill consumed by this activity: 
(check the monitor for how he slept) 
(check the protein intake scale) 
(check the Buster Insanity bank of monitors) 
Possibly 14, depending on whether Buster bites his finger and says "Yummy hot dog," and if we can find the green shoes.


Here is the scale that measures "Protein the Kids Have Eaten Today (g)"

Next to it, you'll see the protein scale for yesterday.

Next to that, "Chicken Height" percentile gauge, and "Buster Height" percentile gauge.

There's also a database of articles about the epidemic of poor-quality foods in America, as well as a ranking of international cities where hormones and pesticides are illegal.

And next to that is the monitor that refreshes every 4 minutes: "Protein Sources Currently Available in the Fridge."

This is, in fact, the Protein Awareness Wing of Mom Brain.


If you'll follow me down this row, you'll see the hourglass, neatly labeled "Minutes of Acceptable Behavior Remaining in the Day."

Once the last grain of sand falls, you must draw the shades and lock the doors.

Either that or run to the woods with leather straps to lash them to trees, like werewolves.

Moving on!


Here is the bank of monitors dedicated to tracking stores of household resources. If you look closely, you'll see gauges measuring real-time levels of:

dish detergent pods
Life cereal
big Ziplocs
household cash
clean socks
iPad battery
green apples (Chicken)
red apples (Buster)
protein bars (Ryan, Chicken, and Buster)

Yes. While she's cracking a timely joke about Paul Ryan at preschool pickup, she's also thinking about literally everything else.



Oh here's a nifty feature of Mom Brain! This is the Household Radar. It operates based on the memory bank, a supercharged coil located beneath the floor right here in Mom Brain. The radar triangulates the positions of necessary items based on a number of parameters:

  • where the kids are hiding shit right now
  • where I like to put it
  • where Ryan thinks I like to put it
  • where was the last place I actually saw it
Looking for car keys? Sunglasses? Baseball cap? Debit card? Scotch tape? The lemon-juicer? A child's toothbrush? Husband's retainers? Check the Mom Brain Household Radar. All that shit is on there.

And let's take a quick minute to remember, this isn't a pocket-sized gadget that Mom can switch to silent or leave behind while she runs with a herd of deer through a meadow or something. 

This is her brain. 

Her actual brain that she uses to do ALL OF THIS, and also signal appropriately when changing lanes, while answering the question, "Mom? When is Santa going to die?"

She's doing that, and also ALL OF THIS.


Oh... there?

This is Section X. We call it the Nightmare Zone.

If you look up, you'll see a stock ticker tracking the chances of:
  • a nuclear attack, 
  • an earthquake,
  • a tsunami,
  • an earthquake/tsunami,
  • the preventable death of a child,
  • the nation sliding into fascism, 
  • a child's eventual descent into drug addiction, 
  • bankruptcy followed by homelessness,
  • infidelity,
  • car accidents that kill some members of the family but not Mom,
  • and getting cancer.
Beneath the ticker you can see rows upon rows of glass-fronted, locked cabinets, each with its own tiny hammer attached to a chain. Within each of the cabinets is an emergency management plan specific to a hypothetical disaster. Yes. Mom Brain already has a plan. For everything.


And remember! This is Mom Brain. It's her brain. It's where she THINKS FROM. It's inside her, all the time. While she's remembering Chicken's teacher's cat's name, she's also planning what she would do AFTER turning off the gas and filling the bathtub with water while it's still drinkable, post-Big-One. 

It smells like hot metal in here and it's always beeping and flashing and that's why she drinks okay???

Anyone need a potty break? No? Onward! This next spot is pretty fun. Here's the wing dedicated to Mom's emotional resources. 

Here is the Anger Meter:

It only really goes up.

But it doesn't matter how high it goes, it only matters that the anger level stays below the shame meter.

The two meters are right next to each other, so it's easy to keep an eye on them.

Here is the Patience Gauge:

It only really goes down.
But it doesn't matter how low it goes as long as there's some gas left in the Screen Time Tank.

Here is the Creativity Analytics Bank:

Nobody knows what the fuck is going on there, it might bust out the top and spray creativity all over the floor so people are slipping on it; it might go 2 weeks without even a blip.

There's an old shoebox with a handwritten sign taped to it that says, "Dreams." Sometimes - SOMETIMES - she picks up the box and bends open a corner of the lid, and whispers something into it. We don't know what.

Don't open the lid! For fuck's sake, haven't you heard of Pandora?!? Lady dreams are DEATH to the WORLD once freed from containment. Jesus, let's move on. QUICKLY.


Oh this one's fun! It's the personal relationship station!

Now you'll notice that there are a number of banks of monitors here that are asleep; those are for people that she doesn't have time to keep up with anymore, but she's holding on hope that someday they'll come to her funeral.

hey girl
volleyball practice?
remember that?
that was
rest in peace

Here's the sex ticker - it reminds her, to the hour, how long it's been since she had sex. Notice, it also streams real-time monitoring from the "guilt gauge" and the "bodily needs" stations.

Every time she has a sexual thought about another woman, a grain of sand drops into that bucket. She counts the grains of sand, like, a lot. The weight of that bucket is also transmitted to this monitor here, which monitors "Life Choices: Satisfaction?" and that monitor there, which displays the running tally of whether or not she deserves to be happy with who she is, no matter who she really is.

Oh, are you confused? Get a little turned around?


yes that can happen here in Mom Brain. It's especially tricky because the same gauges and meters appear in nearly every location here. For example, you'll find an identical "Guilt Gage" on literally every display in the space.

Oh, that is the date night ticker - whoops, it's at 99 again, I'll make a note to let them know to wind it back to 0. I asked them to add a hundreds digit last year, but... well, date night is an easy one to let slide, right?

And hey, quick reminder! This isn't an actual bank of monitors that she can come and look at and then walk away from. These are things that live in her brain, like a pork tapeworm. Like a whole family of pork tapeworms that never stop wiggling.


Oh this is fun, she's going to get ready for bed. Shhhh... watch this panel light up like the fourth of July. This is pretty special. You're gonna like this.

This panel is the Reflection Panel. It typically only lights up at night, when there's enough energy to divert from the "Keeping the Children Alive" wing. After bedtime, KtCA wing goes pretty quiet except for the "Check their breathing" alarm, which goes off at least once a night, and the "Oh shit, how long has it been since you've Googled carbon monoxide leak" ticker.

Anyway, the Reflection Panel is where she takes stock of her life, its value, and its shortcomings.

Oh, oh, oh, she just took off her clothes and looked in the mirror! Woooah baby, look at the board light up!

We've got light on the cellulite meter, the droopy boob tracker, the jowl scale, the line graph that represents her level of rage at her teenage self for thinking she was fat.

See that big red light that just popped on?

That's the "I've Gotta Stop Eating Cake" light.

Don't worry, it only stays on for -- whoops, see, there it goes, she put on the loose pajamas and it went off again.

AND AGAIN! This isn't a notebook with ponies on the cover that she writes in while sipping herbal tea! 


This is the brain she uses to watch Game of Thrones and listen about your day.

You think she's chillin on the couch with Tyrion? YOU ARE A FOOL. Or possibly a tool. But definitely one of those.

She's monitoring the minutes remaining in the episode and reordering the rest of the evening to ensure she gets 3 loads of laundry done and calls to check on her sister before it gets too late on the east coast.

These buzzing, humming, chirping, wailing urgencies live with her. This is the noise that she can't stop. It's why she falls asleep to talky TV shows like The West Wing or John Adams or Parks & Rec.

Oh and there's so much more to cover. The East Wing has her work, self-respect, and how she makes sense of her place in the world.

Downstairs is processing, where she shoves all the big feelings into deep storage and submerges them in frosting and pinot noir.

And over there, we're very proud of this, new just last year, is the "HURRY UP YOU HAVE TO SAVE THE FUCKING WORLD" Department. There's this great big clock on the wall that's counting down to the end of the world, but the numbers have all been redacted, so. It's a great motivator.

And we didn't even get to that big screen over there that just flashes the question AM I OKAY? over and over again all day long.


This is what home looks and sounds like to her.

No, you say, but my lady is super into meditation.

Oh yeah?

Well let me take you to the motherfucking meditation wing of her MOM BRAIN, Jason.

Yeah yeah yeah, here it is, here's the gauge that tells her how long it's been since she's meditated (also linked to the guilt gauge, btw) and the little dial that counts all the times she forgot to be mindful today, and the live-updated list of all the books about gratitude that she has to read...

I'm not trying to be a hater, but you need to understand that she is one person doing literally everything, not just in her life, but in the kids' lives, and probably much of what's in your life, too.

And when you tap her on the shoulder and ask, "Hey, what can I do to help?"

This is what happens in Mom Brain: She suddenly sees another person who is her responsibility. Another board lights up. Another thing beeps.

you can...
can you fold my
never mind
can you
no i have to write that email

And when you do some thing - most of the dishes, pack a suitcase, take out the trash - and you come to let her know that you contributed, and collect your reward, this is what happens in Mom Brain:

You're one of those guys. You sat at one monitor and you did your one thing, and that's truly nice. Thank you.

Just know that when you do that, now the "Make sure to appreciate your husband" alarm has gone off in Mom Brain.

She has a choice: she can either slap the button under that puppy, thank you for helping, and get back to the 4,000 other things she is thinking about, OR, if she doesn't do that, it's only a matter of moments before the "YOU PICKED A FIGHT, HOPE IT WAS WORTH IT" sprinklers go off. 

Mom Brain is a hard place to live. 

So why do so many live here?

Well, there are a shitload of reasons. Because she loves you, and your kids, and wants to do a great fucking job. Because when she was a kid, she was told that other people are her responsibility, and she was blamed for other people's actions. Because she genuinely gives a shit about saving the world, and nutrition, and date night. Because she's burdened by need. Because she's blessed with fullness. Because she's a goddamn soldier. 

Because once she gives a shit, she can't take it back. Yes, about you.

Thank you for coming to visit Mom Brain. I'm here to answer any questions you might have, and don't forget your complimentary goody-bag. 

You'll notice a blank thank-you card in there. 

I think you know what to do. 

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