Whenever I tell my friends about my struggles with ADHD, I get the same response–some variation on the litany, “But we all do that!” I know they are just trying to make me feel better, but it does make me laugh.
Sure, we all have a certain level of trouble with getting things done in this insanely busy world. Mothers in particular are challenged in every possible way. I get that. But the difference between them and me is…well, let me give an example. Making dinner.
Let’s say your typical woman wants a quick dinner, as I did just last night. Quick and easy to make, quick to get on the table. OK, how about hot dogs and oven fries, frozen peas on the side? I did have a special dessert I made – peach, apple and rhubarb crumble, but I had stewed the fruit and had the topping all ready to put on. Now, take your average mom, and barring interruptions, perhaps even with them, she could get that meal on the table in, say, 30 minutes. (Well, that’s what I think, but I do have a rather shaky grasp of the concept of time.)
Ignoring sad experience, I didn’t adjust my 30 minutes upwards. However, knowing the pitfalls, I made sure to preheat the oven *before* I put in the fries, so they would be on time. I did not engage in conversation, or bring in a novel to read during the boring bits of cooking. Not only that, but when I got into the kitchen and found myself turning in circles, I turned to my old friend, the cooking list.
Now, the cooking list is very helpful for me. On this list I put every task down that needs to be done to make a meal. Then I number the steps, so I do them in the right order. Now, I ask you, do you other moms need to do that to make hot dogs, fries and peas? And I put it all down, including asking the children to set the table (I should have added ‘cope with complaining’), buttering the rolls, taking out the condiments, putting the peas on the range, taking them off, the whole shebang.
And yet, for some mysterious reason, it took me a bit more than an hour to get that meal on the table. What did I do in there? I honestly don’t know. It’s possible that I started doing things like cleaning out the fridge or washing the counters, maybe doing the dishes or cleaning the window.
I do know that I resisted several impulses, which counts as so many small miracles. I didn’t call my friend to wish her a happy birthday (which meant I didn’t remember again until I was thinking about going to bed at 10PM – but hey, at least I didn’t totally forget). I didn’t go check the weather, my e-mail or the news on the computer. I didn’t sit down to quickly write up a to do list for the next day, organize the junk drawer, or take out the recycling.
Thank goodness I now know what’s going on. I can laugh about this and see the humor. Hey, I can even be proud of my little triumphs. Dinner was done before 7, and the kids did get to bed on time. But, dear friends, if you make one of those well-meaning comments about how your house is always a mess, too, or it’s hard for you to focus as well, don’t be upset if I just laugh and change the subject. I still love you, it’s just that you can have no idea. And thank goodness I now think that’s pretty funny.