Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - July 18, 2002

Just a minute while I live in the moment

One day last week, I told some of my friends that I had more things on my mind than I had brain cells to deal with them.

Usually, I'm pretty good at "multitasking" - the buzz word for doing several things at once. But some days, I just can't handle the multiple demands of husband, children, work, home, parents, extended family members, cat and goldfish.

My husband chides me about my distractibility, telling me that it's sometimes impossible to carry on an intelligent conversation with me because I'm thinking of all the things I have to do. While I watch television, I don't just watch television. I read the paper, go through mail, or write letters. While I do laundry, I also work on this column, straighten up the room, or go through photos. While I talk to someone on the phone, I put away the dishes, make a cup of coffee, or pick up scattered newspapers in the living room.

I think my condition is partially hereditary. At least I've noticed that my Mom, my sister and my brother are afflicted with the same thing. We all make lists to keep track of our multiple tasks. We all have 12 projects going at once. We all have difficulty focusing on one thing at a time.

I also blame part of my distractibility on technology. After all, cordless telephones, microwaves and computers allow us to do several things at once - and usually, quite efficiently.

I suppose I could attribute part of it to age, although I hate to admit that. Some time ago, a friend e-mailed me a humorous piece called "AAADD," an acronym for age-activated attention deficit disorder. The piece goes into some detail about how this woman tries to get things accomplished during the day, but finds that she is constantly distracted along the way. I understand. The older I get, the more I have to deal with and the more crowded my brain seems to become.

But, really, I think a big reason why I'm distractible is because I'm a woman and women are supposed to "take care of things" for everyone in their lives.

Husband runs out of underwear? Wife to the laundry room.

Children are hungry? Mom to the kitchen.

Boss needs a report? Employee to the computer.

Parents have doctor appointments? Daughter to the doctor's office.

House a mess? Car needs a tune-up? Cat needs food? Goldfish needs his tank cleaned? Who goes to the rescue? Yep, you guessed it.

Do all these people/animals expect us to do things for them? Not necessarily. Sometimes we rush to help without anyone asking or demanding it. Does this mean we have to jump right in? Only if we want to.

Sometimes I just do one thing at a time and "live in the moment," a theme that's popular in current women's magazines - along with the "you can do it all" articles. For example, when I am washing dishes, I can see how beautiful each dish becomes as I scrub the gunk off. Making my bed, I observe how the patterns of the quilt lie along the edge of the bedspread. Doing laundry, I notice how fresh the once-stinky socks smell when I take them out of the dryer. OK, but what else should I be doing right now?

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