In a world where every sort of behavior and character flaw earns a medical diagnosis and a whole episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," I feel my particular disorder has been widely ignored.
We have all heard about the spike in ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) among school-age children, a phenomenon that has inspired untold titles on best-seller lists and endless controversy among physicians, educators and parents about how to help children who struggle to pay attention.
But what about the undiagnosed and untreated cases of a similar malady that haunts millions of wives and mothers across the fruited plain: Domestic ADD (sometimes called always distracted by housework disorder, or ADHD).
This is real, people. It strikes women during childbearing years and lingers through menopause, until at last it mimics the symptoms of the now familiar "senior moment," a series of brief, addled episodes of complete confusion.
Oh, wait. The buzzer on the dryer just went off. I'll be right back …
… OK, here I am again. Had to fold two loads of laundry, sweep the kitchen floor, refill the dog dish and put five potatoes on the kitchen counter. I still have to peel them and put them in the crockpot. I hope I don't forget.
Anyway, as I was saying, domestic ADD is evident in millions of households across America. It cuts across socioeconomic boundaries, racial and ethnic differences and religious divisions. It strikes women at their most vulnerable moments – while talking on the phone to our mothers, for example, or when hunting the house for a pair of lost sneakers.
Suddenly, without explanation, we are overtaken by the urge to shop for shoes on the Internet or sort our jewelry boxes or weed out the clothes that no longer fit our 10-year-olds. Without warning – and certainly without planning – we find ourselves departing from a well-defined "to do" list only to peruse a long-forgotten photo album or scrub the grout in the bathroom with a bleach-soaked toothbrush.
Hold that thought. I'm just going to run out really quickly to get the mail …
… I'm back. And let me just ask these questions: Why can a woman never find the Wite-Out when she needs it? And why do we bother to fill a closet with hangers when our teenage daughters won't use them? And what is my user name and password for the public library's Web site?
Whatever. I digress …
Yes, back to the subject at hand, which is: Why can women not stay on the subject at hand? I think I know the answer to this burning question, and if I can articulate it, I might just write a best-seller and go on Oprah to discuss the social tragedy of unfocused and disorganized women who suffer silently behind closed doors, too ashamed and embarrassed to let anyone in the house see the pile of stuff covering the dining room table.
That presumes, of course, that I could finish such a book, much less the one I started reading a month ago that is sitting on the nightstand next to my bed. But first I have to finish sweeping the cobwebs from the ceiling in the basement storage room, not to mention peel the potatoes.
If you ask women what we'd like more of — money, sex or time –we'll always say we want more time. Foolishly, men believe we want extra time to make more money and have more sex. But the truth is, we want to be able to finish the baby books we started for our children in time to give to them as high school graduation gifts. Also, we'd like to know what it feels like to climb into bed at night in a home where every room is clean on the same day.
Alas, we are simply misunderstood. I would explain further, but it's time to pick up the children from school and begin an afternoon of chauffeuring them to practices and lessons. Then it's a trip to the grocery store, a quick pass at the dry cleaners and a stop at the bookstore for a birthday gift.
The bookstore … that reminds me … maybe I'll look for a book on how to stay on task.