My wife, Brandy, and I are two adults of above-average intelligence. We’re highly organized professionals, engaged community volunteers, and masterful multi-taskers. We’re able to work from home — sometimes simultaneously — while refereeing sibling disputes, attending to boys’ bottomless appetites and walking a dog with seemingly the smallest bladder on the face of the earth.
But there is rust beneath my finely polished Commuter Daddy armor. Lately, I have noticed numerous outbreaks of Daddy Brain.
Exhibit A: When Brandy was away a couple of weeks ago for a girls’ outlet shopping weekend — an annual rite — all seemed to be going well. I was keeping up with laundry, boys were brushing their teeth when asked, and sports schedules were being successfully juggled. We had even managed an excursion to a Providence Bruins game. On the Saturday of that weekend, we all ate lunch together, and I mentally patted myself on the back for how nimbly I was dancing from one responsibility to the other. Jinx! Moments later I misplaced the chips. I could have sworn I put the Chip Clip on them, and placed them back in the cabinet where they belonged. I pulled everything out of that cabinet to prove myself right, but it was fruitless. I put everything back, assumed the kids had snuck a snack, and turned around to begin the Pita Chip Inquisition. This is what met my steely gaze:
I had used the magnetic Chip Clip to close the bag, as I had remembered, but absent-mindedly affixed that clip to the refrigerator instead of returning the ensemble to the cabinet.
This is not the first time Daddy Brain has peeled back the veneer of my notion that I have everything under control.
Exhibit B: We decided Friday to eat out and take advantage of a Limelight Deals (my day job) voucher I had purchased when the product launched in my home market. While Mason was at soccer practice and Brandy was allowing Benjamin to run off some steam at the playground, I snuck in a bike ride. I beat everyone home, printed out the voucher from my Limelight Deals account, placed it under my keys and wallet so I would not forget it, and rushed to the shower. I finished getting ready, hollered to the family to make sure they all were ready, and we all piled in the car. Luckily, before I pulled out of the driveway, I checked for my wallet by patting my back pocket. Yes, the wallet was there, and the keys were in the ignition. But something was missing… The voucher! I got out of the car, and took a step toward the door, only to realize I needed the key ring from the ignition to unlock the door to the house. Holy Double Daddy Brain, Batman!
Exhibit C: That wallet-check trick you saw in Exhibit B? That training derives from repeated bouts of Daddy Brain when I have departed for business trips and left my wallet on my desk or bedside stand. It’s happened more times than I care to admit, including two employee lunch meetings in a row when one of my staff had to pick up the check. How do you spell lame? B-O-S-S F-O-R-G-O-T W-A-L-L-E-T.
Exhibit D: Two summers ago the family came with me on one of my regular trips to New York, a last hurrah for the kids’ school vacation. Upon arriving at the hotel, we realized we had remembered clothes and sundries for everyone except for the guy whose business travel was catalyst for the excursion. The next morning, I started my day at the 24-hour Wal-Mart, just so I could wear something other than gym shorts to the office.
Apparently Daddy Brain is an unofficial condition that has received some research attention, and is ordinarily supposed to beneficial. According to an April 2009 article in Miller-McCune magazine, research has shown that parenthood imparts cognitive and physical benefits upon fathers as well as mothers.
Loving a woman and fathering her children changes a man’s body and brain in ways that make him more canny and resourceful, while improving his ability to handle stress.
Clearly I need to show Brandy and the kids more love.