This post was contributed by Debbie Jarvis, educator, artist, mom of two, and curator of She started her blog because life after kids is crazy and hilarious and crazy hilarious, and we’re all in the same wobbly, sticky, crayon-graffitied boat.


Yesterday, I shushed my phone while it was ringing.  I didn’t feel like answering; I just stared at it. I finally said, “shhhhhhhh” to the phone in my hand.  My friend then hit the button on the side to silence it for me. I literally “shushed” my phone. Then we started laughing about how ridiculous this was.  (My friend and me – not the phone because it is not a person and can neither be shushed nor actually laugh.)


What happens to our brains after we have children?  I get when they’re 3 months old and we’re getting less sleep than a tortured prisoner of war (because aren’t we prisoners of war, in a way?  Our lives dictated by little, tiny, impossibly cute tyrants?). But what about when they’re 3, 4, 5… 15? Is it the cumulative effect of years of sleep deprivation, of psychological warfare battling wills against unrelenting requests for snack just 45 minutes before dinner, of enduring the excruciating jolts of physical pain of stepping on rogue Legos at 1am?


I once read somewhere that having kids is like being pecked to death by a duck. As our kids poke away at us, literally and metaphorically, it’s as though every “Momma!  Momma! Mommy! Mom! Mooooom! Mooooooooooooooom!” chips away at our actual brains. I can feel my neurons dying. Like, “yeah, I didn’t sign up for this. I have a college degree. I’m out.”  They don’t even ghost me. There’s no pretense here. They’re just gone, unlike the constant poking at my leg by a tiny finger until I finally turn around and ask, “What????” way more harshly than I meant to. 


“I farted.”


I have no words. 


And sometimes I have no words because they have fallen out of my broken brain. 


I frequently can’t think of the words for things.  It takes me a few hours and a few cups of coffee to be able to recall things I’m positive I used to know.  My five-year-old is still learning past participles (and I’m constantly thankful that he doesn’t have to learn English as a second language, because what a brutal language to have to actually try to learn as an adult…).  He’ll occasionally make errors such as “winned” instead of “won” or “thinked” instead of “thought.” 


I’ll catch myself making the same errors.  I have taught English Language Arts as well as English as a Second Language.  Yesterday, I realized I said I “eated” a sandwich for lunch. I’ve come to terms with this, and I am only a little bit ashamed.  I’m also not ashamed that I can’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning, what day of the week it is, or when I last washed my hair, because my kids are both in bed sleeping, the dogs are fed, everyone got their various medicines, I paid three bills today, and I cleaned up after an event that shall hereafter be known as the great toysplosion of 2019.


But we’re all in the same wobbly, crayon-graffitied, slightly sticky boat.


My friend texted me because, when asked by a waitress at brunch this morning if she would like a straw for her water, she responded with this doozy: “No thanks, I’ll just … use… my mouth.”


She realized after “just” that she was committed.  She had no way out.


Another friend recounted to me the time when her oldest son was just 6 months and she asked her mom, “Could you scissor my steak for me?”  She said she thought she might be having a stroke.


I used to wish I could be on Jeopardy! because somehow I just knew all the answers, even the opera ones, though I don’t even know why because I don’t listen to opera and never did.  Now I’d only be able to win if the categories were allergen-friendly school appropriate snacks, brands and types of diapers, and Potent Poopables.​


So I’ll just sit here, drinking my wine (which is surely good for those brain cells) and maybe reading the Dictionary in a sad attempt to encourage some words back into my vocabulary.  Then I’ll head up to … the place where you lay down when you’re tired… you know, the sleep rectangle with the head squishies. Bed. That’s the word: bed.