Wednesday, October 15, 2014

If you give a woman with ADD a sink of dirty dishes . . . (Part 1)

That post title is supposed to read like "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie." Was that not clear? Go back and read it again. . . . There you go!

So, as I tried to do ONE simple task today - clean the dishes - I was constantly pulled in a million different directions and, without trying, was soon in the middle of umpteen projects at once. My mind was racing with a never-ending list of things to do as well as the stream-of-consciousness philosophical analyzing and dialogue that always seems to be going on up there. I kept getting distracted by more and more things that needed to be done and then I would do another task half-way before realizing that I hadn't finished the previous task and, when returning to that one, found three more to do. Mentally. Exhausting.

I think I was keen to observing all of this in light of a conversation about motherhood that I had this past weekend while I was out to dinner with a few women. One of them brought up that more and more is expected of us, in terms of time and mental energy, than ever before.

We talked about all the little things that add up. Milk used to be delivered to homes. When we were growing up, if you needed gas, you pulled into a gas station and someone pumped it for you. There were laundry services. There were more "villages" and helpers.

Things are being advertised to us as being ultra convenient, and while some aspects may be, it does put more of the work burden on us, too.When we needed to do banking, we used to go to the bank during regular hours and the teller would take care of everything. Now, you, too, can do your banking online and at home! We do more and more things ourselves and we have more and more "conveniences," as they are called.

We can email and text and use social media to get a hold of people instantly! Now, I love the convenience of texting more than I can say. I would've FLIPPED to have had something like that as a kid/teen - can you imagine?!? But it does sort of make you more accessible than ever before. Years ago, if we wanted to tell our friends something, we either called them (if it merited that) or we waited until the next time we saw them. There were no convenient, immediate ways. Again, I LOVE texting. I get to be in touch with several friends at once all while never once actually getting ON the phone. So I can communicate and share information while I do other things - it's fantastic! But yes, it's more ways for people to "get" to us, to access our time and our mental energy. Same with email. It's immediate. If we were to snail mail all of our missives, I bet we wouldn't send nearly so many emails. More ways for people to access us. More things for us to do (return emails). As with anything, there are pros and cons.

Add to that the culture of today - where are the children and why aren't they playing outside?!? I would be FINE with our kids playing outside all hours of the day with neighbor kids, but guess what? They're all inside! Either because their parents are helicopter parents who fear the world, or because they're on their x-box, or because they're behind some kind of screen. I don't know about you, but you can send your kids out to play with other kids only if there actually ARE other kids to play with! Thankfully, we do have neighbors whose kids are outside fairly often, and Max really enjoys playing with them. But in general, getting together with other kids - especially when you homeschool - means arranging playdates. If that's not 21st century parenting right there, I don't know what is.

And arranging play dates means calendaring and scheduling, emails or several texts or a phone call to find concurrent times that work for everyone, followed by letting the kids know about the play date. Then, there's the drop off, the pick up . . . usually conversations are involved. All of it great. All of it cutting into our days.

Then there's Society. With a capital "S." Now, when I was little, I was not involved in many extra-curricular activities. My parents were immigrants who had to drop out of school to support their families. They didn't know about them and so neither did I. And by the time I learned about them from school mates, I had missed the chance to get involved. It didn't matter much to me, because I enjoyed the free time after school. That was in high school. In elementary school, I spent 10 years (4-year-old nursery through 8th grade) in after-school care or at my grandparents' house because both of my parents worked.

But I know that when I was little, Society was okay with kids getting themselves to their activities, or with kids walking everywhere by themselves, or with kids hanging out in public places (gasp!) unsupervised. I remember the days when I was able to go to my Mom's work after school for a few hours. I would walk across Main Street in the city and visit the public library, then cross the street again and go to the bakery or malt shop. All by myself. No one batted an eye. Nowadays, you can get arrested for letting your kid go to the park alone with a cell phone!

Society doesn't exactly easily allow space for kids to grow up and learn confidence and responsibility. And Society certainly doesn't encourage parents to let them. We're expected to drive them everywhere, be there while they're there, and drive them back. Gone are the days of drop offs with some extra curriculars. One of my friends the other night said that a requirement for her to be present at her child's supervised and paid for activity compounded by an experience where they actually made the moms participate, was the straw that made her quit. She wanted to sign him up, drop him off, and run to the grocery store, but nope. That wasn't okay. This is happening more and more. Kids are over scheduled and, often, parents are, too.

You get the idea. We're busy. And everyone wants a piece of us. And I haven't even addressed basic homeschooling. So, what's it like to try to, oh, I don't know, do a simple task like dishes in the 21st century? I'll write that up in the next post since this one has already gotten long and is just the backdrop!


Dr. Mark said...

Hey! I want to see how this bad boy turns out!

That there is so much backdrop to this story is appropriate given that you're highlighting how what should be a simple task now requires so much thought and coordination. I'm looking forward to reading Part 2.

Also, it's ironic that just trying to leave a short comment on here became so complicated. My phone wouldn't do it so I had to set up my computer and then redo the whole thing. Sheesh. ;)

Emily Foley said...

The other day I was at the store and the bagger asked if he could help me with my groceries to my car. I said no like usual and then went, "wait, not no. Yes." I mean I'm seriously pregnant and this guy offered and gets paid to do it. So yes, yes please help me.

Also...I just do the dishes after dinner. Always. I stand up from dinner and put them into the dishwasher right away. Of course there are nights I have to go do something and can't get to it right away, but that's the minority. Mostly I put them in the dishwasher. I cannot stand a sink full of dishes.

Boquinha said...

Emily, that's smart. And we're getting better about doing that in our new house for sure. But your minority issue is our majority issue sometimes (having something right afterward). Also, with homeschooling and our own business, we ALL eat all of our meals at home every day (unless we eat out) - so it's breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes - you can see how it adds up!

And good for you for accepting help!

Boquinha said...