When my daughter was 4 years old, she told me very matter-of-factly that I wasn't very smart.
In her eyes, I was the mommy who forgot things all the time, who got frustrated when she couldn't remember a phone number or if we needed to buy milk. I didn't go off to work in a big office building in the city like Daddy, therefore I couldn't be very smart.
She didn't see me as the woman who had a master's degree and formerly managed million-dollar research grants, the woman who got straight A's in school and was dubbed "Professor" in sixth grade. All my life I was the smart girl. But now my own daughter thought I was stupid.
Most mothers of young children go through numerous "I-miss-my-brain" moments, but I found this conversation particularly disturbing. Had I really lost it? True, I was constantly tired and I hadn't adjusted particularly well to being a stay-at-home mom, but it scared me to death to think that I might have passed some intellectual point of no return.
Recently I went to a new doctor and, while discussing my flu-like symptoms, I said that I thought the germs had been "vectored to me" by one of my kids. After hearing my vocabulary, he seemed inordinately surprised when I said that I was a stay-at-home mom. Yet even though I explained myself clearly, he typed "works at home" into my file. I found that insulting. It was like he was refusing to believe that someone who displayed a bit of brainpower could possibly be "just" a mom.
So who's right: my daughter, who views Mommy as a loving dimwit, or the doctor, who was surprised that I had a brain left in my head? The truth is that I'm just an intelligent person whose mental capacity took a big hit from the strain of caring for young children. Will I ever regain my brain? Will it ever completely come back? I wish I knew.