KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Saturday, July 15, 2006

AD/HD: A Day in the Life

Time management is an issue that affects lots of two-career households, including those with freelancers like me.

My workday runs from about 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, with lots of breaks for child care. My husband and I have three children; the 11-year-old and 4-year-old are still at home (the 23-year-old's on her own), and I am responsible for their care during the workday—on top of working in my home office—until my husband gets home, because paying for child care would take a big chunk out of our income. My husband's job is a hour's commute away, but that's if he's driving over the speed limit.

Our arrangement, since our 11-year-old's birth, has been that when my husband, Ed, arrives home from work, he is completely responsible for child care and for making dinner; he's also responsible for the bulk of child care on weekends. (I got more satisfaction from this when the boys were very young because Ed did all the diaper-changing when he was home.)

Someone once asked if this was fair to Ed. Hell yes, it is. He may work hard, but when he's working, he's doing only one job. I, however, am doing two jobs—editing and child care—when I'm working. Our arrangement helps me recuperate from having to be on duty with the kids (in the summertime, at least) all day long, and it gives my husband plenty of time to bond with the boys. He's always been fine with this arrangement; I didn't have to push him into it.

Our fights usually have to do with Ed's lack of a sense of time, which is related to his attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD). He's a foreman for a small cabinetmaking firm—and I do mean small; there are fewer than 10 employees, even counting the owner—so it's not as if he has the weight of a huge company on his shoulders. His workday is supposed to be 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. But things come up near the end of the workday, and instead of his quickly planning out how they will be handled the next day, he's taken to handling them immediately, thinking that they won't take long at all. But of course, they always take a long time. So he leaves work at 5:00 p.m. (tolerable), 5:30, 6:30 ... last night he left at 7:00 p.m. and was home after 8:00 p.m. His boss doesn't require him to work late all the time. And it's not as if he's an emergency department surgeon who faces unexpected operations at the end of his shift to save people's lives.

This problem with gauging time means that (1) I am responsible for the kids for a much longer time than I'm supposed to be, under our agreement, and (2) no one knows when dinner will be, which makes the kids and me crabby. That means I have to stop working at 7:00, when I usually do, but dinner's not ready and the kids are hungry, so I have to make dinner. By the time we eat, it's time for the kids to get baths before going to bed, and they're whining, "When will Daddy get home?!"

Ed promises over and over to leave work on time—unless there's an emergency, and that, I would understand—but lately, he never manages to. Everyone's schedules are thrown off, I'm angry, the kids are whiny, and he's not happy because I'm angry.

I know that these are the kinds of issues that both parties must talk out—honestly, at length, and without the kids around. They should set aside some time to talk, making it official by getting a babysitter. They should talk about the feelings that are behind the actions, have empathy for each other.

I should go do that, but it's hard to feel like bothering, because I've told Ed many times exactly what I think about what feels like his lack of respect for my time. And each time, he says he knows he should pay attention to the clock and just leave work at 4:30. But then he doesn't. He even did this all throughout this week, when we had a vacation from the boys and could have more time together. It's gotten to the point that I don't believe his promises. And that situation is so typical of life with an AD/HDer.

I don't know how this issue will be resolved, given that with Ed, poor time management skills are one of his handicaps and not a lack of respect. We'll see.




Cris said...

Hi EM! I have a confession ... in a previous life, I did not know what to make of ADHD. I thought it was an excuse for unfit parents to blame society for their kids behavior. Then I took a job as an administrator for an ADHD school for kids ages 7-14.

My position was to process applicants and tuition fees and not related at all to the clinical area. But I wanted to educate myself on what I was processing and why there was a school exclusively for these kids. It really was an eye opener. I was embarrassed of my previous ignorance.

Ultimately, this was one factor why I took interest in Medical Informatics.

Kudos to all your efforts!

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

I knew I liked you for a reason, Cris! Now I know why: (1) you're honest and (2) you have intellectual curiosity. :-)

I know several people who used to think that AD/HD wasn't real, but then it was diagnosed in one of their relatives. It's hard for a lot of people to understand AD/HD because people who don't have it can have some of its symptoms in an extremely minor form, so the thinking is "if everbody has some of its symptoms, it's not really a disorder." And it's not something that's physically visible the way a broken arm is.

You've brightened my day, Cris. Thanks.

Laurie said...

Hey I think that is a great arrangement. I also work from home while raising a 15 month old and a twelve year old. I am home with the kids all day and when my husband gets home I want him to take the kids for a while. He doesn't seem to think this is okay. He whines that he has been working all day. Well what have I been doing? Stick to it, you are right!


Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Laurie, thanks for your support.

Ed already agrees that his taking over child care in the evenings is the right thing to do, and he's done it for years. It's just that with his AD/HD, he has absolutely no sense of time and has lately had a very hard time stopping work, as if he has no brakes or was compelled to keep moving. He did much better with this just this past week, getting home pretty much on time all five workdays.

We've talked about the possibility that he has obsessive-compulsive disorder; it's not uncommon for people with AD/HD to have other disorders too. He's agreed to see if he can control his stronge urge to keep working on his own, and that if he can't, he'll talk to his therapist (who also treats me for depression and one of our sons for AD/HD) about the possibility of OCD.

Template created by Makeworthy Media