BRAIN SHRINKING MOMMA

Dear Suse and Ella,
I had my first child a year ago and quit my job in order to stay home with my baby. I really love my kiddo, but I am struggling to find purpose and meaning in being with him all day everyday. Before being a mom, I worked with at risk adolescent girls: tough work but rewarding with lots of team work and creative problem solving. Now I feel alone, like my brain my be shrinking, and wonder if what I'm doing matters...any suggestions?
Sincerely,
A Momma
Dear Momma,

It is certainly an enormous shock to leave a rewarding and challenging job, in order to devote yourself to motherhood - and we advocate keeping some balls in the air job-wise if you can! But there are some great novel cures out there to keep you sane for the time being. We have frequently been saved by listening to audio books while we have endured the tedium of years of pureeing vegetables, rocking babies to sleep and breastfeeding. Check out our list of the ten best audiobooks, found in The Novel Cure, to get you going. But meanwhile, we can also offer you some excellent suggestions for novels to remind you that you're not alone, and that there is joy and hope within your current situation, shrinking brain and all. Rachel Cusk writes brilliantly about the horrors of motherhood, in a way that many have found helpful as she faces up to the emotions that many of us deny. Her book " A Life's Work" , a nonfiction account of becoming a mother, is an excellent analysis of the terrifying range of emotions that new mothers go through. However, more positive role models can be found in Helen de Witt's superb book 'The Last Samurai', and "The Millstone" by Margaret Drabble. The former is a wonderful novel describing the approach to motherhood of a single mother who cannot tolerate boredom, and perhaps as a result, her son becomes a genius. The mother and son have a fabulous relationship, until he decides that he must find his father (she was never that interested in who he was). He then goes in search of many different male archetypes. The latter is Drabble's acute analysis of motherhood in the sixties for an unmarried woman. All her friends predict that the child will become a millstone around her neck. This is not the case, and you will take heart from the enormous joy Drabble's heroine finds in her 'millstone', despite society's opprobrium and the difficulties inherent in single motherhood. It's coincidence that both these novels approach the issue from the angle of a single mother - all mothers feel inherently alone alot of the time, no matter how wonderful and present their partners are. But both these novels are particularly brilliant at showing you how your brain can stay the same size it was before you had the baby - and possibly even grow!- beyond the boundaries of the Moses basket.

Yours. ​Ella and Suse
We prescribe - The Last Samurai by Helen de Witt
The Millstone by Margaret Drabble

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A SLUG WITH VISIONS OF HUMANITYABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP ENDED, LEAVING SCARSADULT ACNEAFRAID OF FAILUREALCOHOLIC DAUGHTERALONE ON A WIDE, WIDE SEAAlways wanted to be a writerANOREXICANXIOUS ABOUT SINGLE FRIENDAT A FORK IN THE ROADAVID READER, LACKING BOOKBEREFT OF A CATBORED IN ALABAMABOTHERED AND BEWILDEREDBRAIN SHRINKING MOMMABROKENBROKEN HEARTBROKEN HEARTED - TORN BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE BEST FRIENDSBROKEN UP WITH GIRLFRIEND; FEELING BURNT OUTCAN’T MOVE ONCANDIDA REVOLTAIRECan’t afford to go on holidayCAST ASIDECHEATEDCHRONIC PAINCOLD HANDS AND FEETCONCERNED ABOUT DAUGHTERCONFLICTED PARTNERSCRAVING FOOD CULTURECYNICAL STEPSONDAILY ABUSEDARK NIGHT OF THE SOULDEPRESSED AND UNABLE TO READDEPRESSED DURING CHRISTMAS, AND LONELY NOWDESPERATELY WANTON GIRLDIRECTIONLESSEASILY BORED WITH NOVELSEMOTIONALLY SABOTAGED BY MY MOTHEREMOTIONS IN EXTREMEEVER THE FRIEND AND NOT THE PARTNEREXTREME ANGER AND FRUSTRATIONFADING AWAYFALLEN OUT WITH MY FRIENDSFALLING IN LOVE WAY TOO FASTFAZED AND CONFLICTEDFEAR OF CONFRONTATIONFEAR OF GETTING OLDFERTILITY PROBLEMSFOMO (FEAR OF MISSING OUT)FORGING A BRIGHT NEW FUTUREFRIEND WHO HAS LOST A CHILD LATE IN PREGNANCYFRIENDS DAUGHTER LOST TO SUICIDEFrightened of lifeGAPING HOLEGetting over a break-upGIRL OF UNCERTAINTY, BOUND BY RULESGIRL WHO DOESN’T FIT INGRIPPED BY LOSSGUILTY FRIENDHOPELESSNESSHOUSE AND LIBRARY DESTROYED BY FIREI love music more than booksI no longer commute – and therefore I no longer readI PEEK AT THE END OF NOVELS BECAUSE I WORRY THE CHARACTER MIGHT NOT MAKE ITI wish I were famousIN MOURNING OVER LITERARY DEATHSINABILITY TO SIT STILL AND ANXIETYINCONSISTENT AND NON-STUDIOUS- BUT AMBITIOUS NONETHELESSINDECISIVEINSECUREINTERESTED IN EVERYTHING BUT ACHIEVING NOTHINGINVISIBLE WOMANITALIAN NOVEL CURESJILTED AND UNSUREJOB IN LIBRARY UNDER THREATKICKED IN THE HEADLEADENLIVING ON THE MARGINSLONE RANGERLONELY AND DEJECTEDLONELY IN LOVELONELY IN MONOTONOUS JOB, LOSING SANITYLOOKING FOR A SENSE OF PURPOSELOOKING FORWARDSLOSS OF A SISTERLOSTLOW WATTAGELOW-ENERGY PESSIMISMMAD SCIENTISTMARRIED TO A MAN, ATTRACTED TO WOMENMISSED THE BOATMISSING MY MOTHER-IN-LAWMUM GOING BACK TO WORKNEED TO LET GONEW CITY, NEW LIFE -BOOKS FOR 12 YEAR OLD BOY?NEW FRIENDSHIP WITH HOLOCAUST SURVIVORNIGHTMARISH COLLEAGUENOMADIC FLANEURPOST NATAL DEPRESSIONPREGNANT AND ALONE