Broken Mugs, Ovens Left On, and Crumbs in the Kitchen: To Be Absentminded with ADHD

“I don’t even think about whether or not the cupboard doors are open. It’s not like I see them open and say to myself, Screw that, who cares about those doors, they’re just dumb doors. I want to close them because I know Mom has a thing about that and I don’t want to het her mad at me, but I just don’t think about those doors…same thing with faucets. Same thing with lights. Sam thing with dirty laundry.”
-Superparenting for ADD by Edward Hallowell, M.D. & Peter S. Jensen, M.D. (pg.32)
The September post “Back to School and Work with ADHD” mentions that those of us with ADHD can be “as absentminded as fruit flies.” We flit from task to task, neglecting what we’ve left behind in favor of what’s to come. We’re busy. We’re preoccupied. But we also mean no harm.

Despite the years that I’ve spent learning about ADHD and how to overcome its challenges, my forgetfulness is tenacious. Mugs break. Ovens remain on. Drawers are littered with crumbs. Blinds fall down. Refrigerator lights burn out. iPhone screens crack. Keys are left in the wrong purse. These slip-ups are inevitable, or at least, I’ve given into believing that they are.

These imperfections accompany ADHD. And while I (and many of you) make an effort to close every cabinet and wash every dish, it is a constant battle. We must consciously remind ourselves of such customs and niceties, else we appear negligent.

I wanted to share the quote that kicks off this post because I think it perfectly describes the feelings that accompany such spills, cracks, and slip-ups. Often the biggest misunderstanding between those of us with ADHD and our less hyperactive friends, teachers, and family members, is the assumption that our every mistake, our every misbehavior is intentional. In fact, those blunders that we’re berated, reprimanded, and grounded for? We never intended to make.

It’s important to call attention to this miscommunication, not to relieve us ADHD’rs of blame (we know our faults are frustrating!), but to help those of you without ADHD to understand where we’re coming from. We’re sorry. We feel bad when we forget to walk the dog. We feel guilty when we leave the TV on. We feel ashamed when we break an heirloom. And we know you’re upset.

If you’re a parent of a child with ADHD, one of the best things you can do is continue to remind your child of the rules and structure of the household. Yes, he or she may groan and give you the eye roll, but beneath that annoyed exterior, your habits are working to embed themselves in your child. Even after twenty-six years of parenting, my mother continues to have such patience with me. Always calm, always accepting, she evokes my desire to want to do better.

For those of you with this forgetful form of ADHD, my wish is that you’re able to improve. Or, if not, that your friends, family members, and teachers are able to empathize with and accept you for who you are. Venture over to the “Back to School and Work with ADHD” for tips on how to improve organization and (with dedication!) temper the absentminded fruit fly inside you.

When did you last act forgetful or absentminded? What was the result?

With holiday spirit from me to you!