(c) 2010, Christiana Lambert

Jackson’s tutor always says something to the effect that if Nature gives great abilities in one area, it’s going to take it away in another area. In other words, people don’t tend to be good at everything. His tutor even goes so far to say that Nature tends to try to kill off those who really are good at everything. Hey, I can’t quote his scientific references—I’m just putting out his theory.

I guess I should be glad I’m flawed!

But that doesn’t mean that being reminded of those flaws doesn’t cut me to my core—especially when they have been a lifelong struggle. Our true areas of weakness begin adding to our baggage from our earliest days. The sentences and phrases spoken to me about this weakness replay in my brain. I see pictures of how often I failed—at different ages in different rooms in different houses.

I don’t know where to put things. I know now that’s part of my ADD and also part of how I was raised. My mother, who had a brain injury and who most likely also had ADD, was not able to model for me or train me.

It’s a good thing I was good in school, just as she was. She and I are a perfect example of the tutor’s theory. We were at the top of our classes in learning and most likely near the bottom of our classes in putting things away and other various domestic arts.

Knowledge can set you free, so I’ve been learning about ADD for almost a decade now. I’ve studied techniques for how to work well with my kind of brain. I feel better in control of how I approach organizing, thanks to realizing I have to do things in a way that makes sense to my brain, not in ways that make sense to the naturally organized person.

However, the truth is I can only work with my brain, not control it completely. Sometimes I just have to cut myself a little slack. And I definitely cannot control other people’s actions or some of the events in my life that have added to the quantity of “stuff” in my home.

One of the gifts of ADD is that I can punt when I have to do so. When faced with my mother’s needs and my kids’ needs, I can figure out how to do what’s most necessary: be there for them to help them deal with their difficult times, find resources for them, and get them to outside help when necessary.

There is no denying that taking care of others in their crises changes priorities. Time available does not increase just because more tasks are added into a day. Care-giving has pushed me squarely into areas of my weaknesses. I have had to turn my focus to time and detail management. I have been the one to schedule appointments and see that everyone gets to those appointments. I have been the one to contact providers, insurance companies, financial companies, etc. to make sure all the pieces fall into place—especially when those who are supposed manage those details do not.

But while the time spent managing details is quantifiable, how much time does it take to console others in pain and to confront your own emotional responses to conflict and loss?

When life is hard, it becomes even harder to do those things that are difficult on a good day.

In addition to all the extra paperwork, appointments, and phone calls that have been part of my life over the past two years, add four moves for my mother—two of them with no more than a few days’ notice. Moving and figuring out what to do with things are pretty much at the bottom of my competency scale—note I haven’t moved myself for almost 22 years.

The best way to handle my lack of competency is not to move and not to bring extra items into my home. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a say in those areas recently.

So what I don’t need right now is criticism. What I’ve needed for a long time now is help. With all the unpaid work I’ve done over the past few years, I have lost my own sources of income—I can’t afford to pay someone else to help me—especially with burdens that are not entirely my own creation.

I have done the hard work of not abandoning my loved ones, even when they weren’t at their most lovable. I have kept up with the needed appointments and payments. I have not lost my faith, mind, or ability to treat people well.

But, no, my patio is not cleared. And trust me, I really do want it cleared, both for our upcoming graduation celebration and so I can enjoy sitting there—if I ever have time to do so. I want to be able to relax enough to enjoy our company and to have the beauty of our recent home improvements show through when our guests arrive.

Without a little help, it’s highly likely I won’t even get enough of the “stuff” put away to make it to the middle of the class in home organization. Rather than focus on that area where I remain at the bottom of the class, I need to turn my focus to what matters most: that we are all still here together.

Please, welcome to my home, and for God’s sake, stop minding the dust.

Jackson & Christiana, May 2010