I do not have attention deficit disorder (ADHD), but I have come to admire it. It wasn't always that way. In fact, after 10 years of marriage to an ADDer (and being the mother of at least one ADDer), I had begun to question my life.
From my husband's chronic lateness to his seeming inability to follow his own carefully constructed schedules, I was at the end of my rope. And then something wonderful happened. This past year, I began to see ADD from a new perspective.
I remember the day it happened. I had reached my breaking point and was ready to hire a divorce lawyer to end the nightmare of impulsivity, distractibility, and restlessness. I was ready to stop wondering what happened this time when he still wasn't home late in the evening.
I was finally going to be free of the Jack-and-the-Beanstalk lifestyle of "I went to sell the cow but I got a better deal by trading her for beans." I was tired of seeing a simple shopping list transformed into a culinary Taj Mahal... when it hit me: A predictable life wouldn't be this interesting.
Now don't get me wrong. Predictability matters, but I began to see that trading spontaneity for efficiency wasn't really such a great deal. You see, living with a household of ADDers can be difficult, but it also can be a lot of fun. Without ADD, the shortest distance between two points is always a straight line. With ADD, the distance may be longer, but it's far more interesting, and I've discovered that I prefer to live in a fascinating geometric design.
People with ADD see the infinite possibilities of the world. They may go to the store for milk, but, if along the way they meet the farmer whose cow was milked, they'll stop to introduce themselves. Oh, sure, they'll be late - and they may even return home without the milk - but they will have connected to another human being in a way that the schedule-bound seldom do.
ADDers have an uncanny ability to make connections. Not long ago I volunteered at my child's school to decorate the cafeteria for a dance. I went to work, hanging the streamers and balloons quickly so that I could hurry home to fulfill the rest of my to-do list. But my child with ADD reminded me to introduce myself to the other parents, to ask about their kids and get to know them. She recognized that volunteering was not only about working but about working with others. Although I reminded her that I was the mother and not in need of social prodding, secretly, I knew that she was right.
My child had viewed the situation more holistically than I. ADDers are like that. They keep their eyes open to the possibilities life has to offer, rather than put on the blinders that the rest of us willingly wear.
This past year has taught me a valuable lesson. Diversity is its own magic. Surrounding ourselves with people exactly like us limits life's possibilities. By welcoming new perspectives, new ways of seeing, we see more of the world in which we live. Needless to say, I never did hire that lawyer. I was given the gift of insight on that fateful day.
The ADDers in my family have contributed adventure, excitement, joy, and creativity to my life. Without them, my schedule might be rigidly adhered-to - but I would certainly fail to stop and smell the roses.
This article comes from the April/May 2005 issue of ADDitude.