February 21, 2009

Perfectly Normal for a Mom

I have been brooding over a comment my husband made to me yesterday. He wondered why I left the spoon that I used for the yogurt while making Dustin a smoothie at breakfast time on the counter. "Why don't you just rinse it off and put it in the sink?" My response was "Because I was probably doing a hundred other things and I didn't notice it. I did rinse out the bowl I used and the mixer." He apologized and said he shouldn't have said anything. But it didn't end there for me. (you know us females).

I am not upset at my husband, but at myself. I do things like that all the time. Not because I am lazy but because I don't think of it. I don't pay attention or else I get distracted. I just don't notice things. Nine times out of ten I hang my keys up when I get home. But the one time I don't is because I forgot that I had them in my hand and don't remember even putting them down. Scott says I need to focus more on what I am doing, or holding. I agree. I wish I could! I wish I didn't forget things like birthday parties and or returning videos; or spend half my life looking for things.

Scott is very opposite from me. I don't know how he has managed to live with me and my distracted, scattered mind all these years. He is an accountant by profession, and his mind seems to work like columns and rows. In his mind, things are simple. Just put it away, throw it away, rinse it off, use a planner, a place for everything and everything in its place. (And I am sure there are many reading this who agree). I wish it were that simple for me. I don't seem to have a place for everything, and if there is a place for it, it doesn't always get there. Sometimes, I admit I am lazy about it, but mostly I'm just busy or distracted. So I have piles. I set things down, and then when I'm busy trying to get dinner or whatnot, or clean up in a hurry, it goes in a pile. And most of the time I know what is in those piles. Of course I have to dig through them to find it! But it is hard for the people who live with me, because they don't know what pile to look in!

Having my choas isn't alway easy for Scott, I know. A few weeks ago when he wanted to iron a shirt he asked if I had any idea where the iron was. I knew exactly where it was--on the kitchen counter. (I had been doing quilt blocks. And I forgot to put it away. I really meant to. It had been sitting there for a few days). Poor guy. He needs a shirt that I probably forgot to iron, and then not complaining, he goes to iron it himself and can't find the iron--something he can't blame the kids for using.

Well today, I was reading the Reader's Digest and I came across a very enlightening article. The article is titled "7 Dumb Things We Do." It is actually an article about making mistakes. According to the article, the brain slows down when it has to juggle tasks. "Multi-tasking makes us stupid. Switching from task to task creates problems. We can forget what we were doing or planned to do . . . The contents of our working memory can evaporate like water in a desert; only after two seconds, things begin to disappear. Within 15 seconds of considering a new problem you'll have forgotten the old problem." Also "it can take up to 15 minutes to regain a deep state of concentration after a distraction."

Okay. My job title of MOM says it all: multi-tasker with many interruptions and distractions. (I wonder if I have ever been in a deep state of concentration in the last 14 years). So I am basically perfectly normal, right? but there is more!

"Sometimes a person can look directly at something and still not see it." Further on down: "Often we fail to pick up major changes to scenes while we're actually viewing them" because we notice on a need-know-basis. This was refered to as 'change blindness.'

There were studies and experiments to back up the statements in the article. And there are 8 tips to mistake-proof your life. I'm just happy to know that my brain, though frustrating to me at times, is just responding the way it's programmed to!

(However, I am still working for continuous improvement as I do try to put things away in the correct place as I use them, and put dirty spoons in the sink instead of leaving them on the counter. I am very good now at putting the peanut butter away before I even hand the sandwich to the kid.
I am just more aware of how the unending distractions of motherhood affect me).


Krystal said...

I LOVED this post! I am very much like you Melissa. I am not programed to make things like that easy. Just like with Laundry. Yes, it is easy to put it away after folding - but - I get distracted and forget that the task isn't completed! Then we thumb through baskets to find everything! I also live with piles, with the intent to put each pile away at some time or another....sigh. I am so grateful for what that article said because often times I feel like I am forgetting too often and wonder what is wrong with my brain!....apparently NOTHING! However, I will keep trying to improve :)

Krystal said...

BTW - I just posted a story that I think you will enjoy. It goes along with this post very well ;)

Andrea Hardman said...

I read that article and thought it fit my life perfectly. I've been trying to pay attention to what I'm doing at the moment but it's a hard change to make. I don't feel like I've made much progress. And I missed telling you that last week would have been fine for a visit. Sorry. Any time would be wonderful. Let me know and we'll make sure to be here.