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About Motherhood

In all likelihood, you have heard the common characterization that children drain both your energy as well as your body. Not a fun thought at all. Yes, raising kids can be a burden sometimes, but is it really such a horror story? Is having children really going to turn you into a lifeless zombie?

I would argue instead, that motherhood can boost your intellect and brain capacity, not drain it.

That's the claim made in a book called The Mommy Brain: How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter, by Katherine Ellison. This book, written by a reporter with two children herself, introduces some interesting findings that point to the fact that having kids can actually lead to more smarts. An interesting concept for sure, and quite an encouraging one to counteract the negativity that mothers sometimes face.

As with most mothers, Katherine Ellison was at first worried that her sanity may take a hit when she first had kids, what with all the tasks one must keep track of, from changing diapers to feeding babies, etc. It's easy to get lost in such a world. It's a fear shared by many mothers, who feel that after childbirth, their brains would deteriorate as they are forced to multitask in the wake of increasing disruptions and the inability to sleep as well as one did before.

But the author soon read a report based on scientific research that showed that rats that were mothers had better brain function. The areas that saw improvement were memory and learning capacity. This was what changed the author's viewpoint and led her to research the topic further.

How does being a mother make you smarter?

In the book Katherine Ellison presents five categories in which motherhood provides advantages. They are perception, efficiency, resiliency, motivation, and emotional intelligence. Within each category, the author presents research findings, drawn from both studies that have been done on animals as well as studies that have been done on humans.

The first category (perception) has to do with with our senses. Among the findings presented is the interesting fact that mothers had improved visual senses compared to women who did not have children. This doesn't necessarily mean their vision was better in the traditional sense, where their eyesight is sharper. Instead, it means mothers seem to be more aware of what is going on in their surroundings. In other words, they notice things that other people may not notice. Additionally, where the senses are concerned, it seems that mothers have a better sense of smell. This may be connected to the fact that mothers need to protect their babies, and the improved sense of smell would help the mother avoid foods that may be bad for them.

But that's not all. There is also evidence that a mother can see increases in motivation. This makes sense and I have witnessed this firsthand in friends who have had children. Mothers tend to have less fear, and cope with stress better as well. Again, I have seen this in my friends. One of them was quite unmotivated and stressed out over small things prior to having children. After becoming a mother, she seemed to be far more focused and well-adjusted. This may not be the case for all mothers, but on the whole, studies support that more often than not, this will be the case. Evidence of improved learning capacity and improved memory capacity are also addressed in the book.

But the thing that is most prominent is the increase in what psychologists call emotional intelligence. A woman may have previously seen the world just through her own eyes. But once they become a mother, they become accustomed to seeing the world through other people's eyes (most often their baby's - but this ability clearly carries over to other people as well). In a typical relationship with another human being, you can always just ignore the person if you don't see eye to eye. This can't be done with your own child however. Because of this, mothers are forced to learn how to expand their thinking and comprehend another person's views.

As you can see, the book presents many fascinating facts, and is definitely worth reading if you are a mother, plan to be a mother, or know people who have become moms. It can also be a great gift for anyone who is a mother. Not only will the book provide them with insights on motherhood, it will also be a nice dose of positivity that will help people realize that motherhood has many advantages that society may not have recognized in the past.