03/28/2008 02:48 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

You're Smarter Than You Think

New motherhood not only saps your energy, but feels like it claims more than a few brain cells, too. Every mom of young children I've met sheepishly admits to her own "mommy moments." You know the times you leave your keys in the front door (at least once a week for me), or race out of the house with your shirt on inside out or dial a number and forget who you are calling. One humbling day, a few weeks ago, I actually convinced myself to the core that it was a Thursday when it was really a Tuesday and got a lovely $47 ticket for parking my car on the wrong side of the street.

It's easy to get down on yourself. But despite these minor hiccups, when you think about all of the mental might it takes to juggle the pieces of our overscheduled lives, you realize that moms have to be pretty brilliant people to keep things running smoothly. We are, in fact, much smarter than we think. And as featured in Newsweek this week,
some new research suggests women as a whole need to give ourselves more credit. British researcher Adrian Furnham, a psychology professor at University College of London, tells the magazine that women often underestimate their smarts while men overplay theirs. Furnham analyzed 30 international studies of how men and women assess their own brainpower and found what he calls "the male hubris, female humility effect." So you may very well be smarter than the guys in your life but your ego doesn't realize it. And it is especially difficult, when you are toiling away changing diapers and folding laundry.

My point is that sometimes the mundane side of motherhood dulls our self-confidence (not to mention sleep deprivation and those last ten pounds). But like all women, we must not lose sight of our innate abilities to problem solve, manage time and along the way, nurture our families. As journalist Katherine Ellison points out in her 2005 book, The Mommy Brain: How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter, being a mom may actually improve our mental function by boosting our perception, efficiency, motivation, resilience and emotional intelligence. Raising a family is a big job with multiple hats. So on those days when you can't remember where you put your keys, it might help to remind yourself just how smart and capable you really are. I'm going try it myself...right after I figure out where I parked the car.

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