Life with Ladybug: This is your brain on a chaise lounge

By Shannon Magsam

Gwen asked me this week whether my husband and I had fun on our few days of “alone time” during vacation.

I told her yes and then said something I suddenly realized was very true:

I relaxed down to my brain.”

You know what I mean, right? So many times we moms look like we’re relaxing, but really our brains are just not buying what our posture is saying. Feet propped up poolside or at the park? A magazine in one hand and a glass of iced tea in the other? Yeah right.

The car might appear to be in park, but it’s really just idling, waiting to jump the curb at a moment’s notice — to help the child who just fell off a skateboard or to answer that important work call or to throw in another load of laundry when the machine makes that awful buzz.

Generally, even if we don’t have to spring into action, our minds are usually racing, like Mario Andretti’s up there with his foot hot-glued to the gas. Round and round and round. We re-read the same sentence in our magazine or read a whole paragraph and still don’t know what the article’s about. Let’s face it: it’s really, really hard to force our brains into shut-off mode.

I recognized myself recently in a line from the “Mirror, Mirror” essay in Anna Quindlen’s memoir, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake. She was talking about how, as a child, she loved it when her mother fixed her hair.

She wrote, “It was single-minded attention from a person who was frequently pulled in so many directions that she was psychologically drawn and quartered.”

Oh, how that sentence rings true of mothers.

So I was pleasantly surprised last week when my mind actually did settle down and enjoy the vacation we took to celebrate my husband’s birthday. (We dropped Ladybug off with my family near Conway and drove off into the sunset to just hang out together for a few days.)

It all started with an awesome sound track that John had created for our road trip. There was “Kissed You” by Gloriana and “Woman Like You” by Lee Brice and a little “Back in Black” thrown in there for balance.

By the time I we got to the hotel pool, I was in full jell-o mode. I slid right into that chaise lounge and immediately became absorbed in reading a clever new book titled Wife 22. Not only was I not re-reading any sentences, I was devouring whole paragraphs at lightning speed.

Occasionally, I would put down the book and consciously appreciate the sunshine on my face. There were a few kids clamoring around me, but I didn’t let myself worry that they might slip on the concrete or if they were inexperienced swimmers out in the deep end.

They weren’t my kids and their own mothers were there. I could almost hear their brains humming inside their skulls.

I knew that, soon enough, I would be back in charge of my own child and my brain would need to revert back to mother mode (not to mention all the other modes like Motherlode mode).

So fellow moms, this summer I recommend you carve out a few days (or more probably, a few hours) and give your brains a little siesta.

Your brain, even after it’s off the chaise lounge, will thank you.

Shannon Magsam is mom to 10-year-old Ladybug, married to Ladybug’s dad, John, and co-founder of To read previously published installments of Life With Ladybug, click here.