Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mom: Your Brain is Really OK

The older graduates are coming home, raiding the refrigerator and using the kitchen computer to look for a job (wouldn't want it any other way) and the youngest are sorting through extra-long twin sheets and supply lists while everyone scrounges for the last frozen pizza for a SNACK, and the laundry keeps cranking through the machines (small prayer here to the appliance gods).   I am impressed by my own ability to juggle it all while I listen to Adele and run to the grocery store for more milk and juice and go to work.

Funny thing because I was just thinking about how my mind was getting old and I keep losing my keys or my parking spot or forget that I already told the kids that story from my own freshman year.  And just in time a book was recommended to me that explains how the middle aged brain can actually do all these things, i.e. forget and accomplish so much.  The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain:the surprising talents of the middle-aged mind by Barbara Strauch, science and health editor at The New York Times, is a primer on the current psychological and neuroscience research into the ways in which my mind and those of many friends and parents of patients are functioning.  Trust me, it's a godsend.

Next time I get reprimanded for re-telling a stupid joke or forgetting a friend's name or the plot of a movie (or that I even saw it before) let me remind people that Strauch says we are better at problem-solving, integrating, social expertise, judging character and situations, multi-tasking (oh yeah!) and wisdom.  Used to be that wisdom came with "old age" but it turns out no one really studied healthy middle-aged people so much before.  And contrary to decades of "wisdom" it turns out that the brain can make new cells and most importantly, new connections.

So I say, bring it on that middle age stuff.   Reading this book I felt empowered to recognize how we have traversed so much life and are really experts in our own little corners.   Like the Kali, the multi-limbed Hindu goddess associated with eternal energy and motherhood (and also violence since the world is not so simple), we have many arms and they are all moving, keeping the worlds we inhabit in balance.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ann,

    Years ago, Barbara Strauch's classic "Primal Teen" gave me insights for raising my (then) middle school son. As a college admissions consultant and blogger, I always recommend that book to my clients and readers.

    Now I have a new book to explore, very relevant to MY middle-aged brain, as my (now) college age son comes home, insists on independence but still expects perfect concierge-dom from his not-so-perfect Mom.