I’m getting ready to head into the final push of getting this medieval history manuscript finished up–due date December 19–which means that I needed to polish off a bunch of random tasks this week so that I can concentrate.

Let’s see…I’ve gotten the galleys for The Well-Trained Mind, third edition, out the door; taught a class on sonnet-writing; caught most of the way up with my grading; done four day’s worth of “Mom’s school subjects” with the kids (which is to say, my part of the home schooling load–we normally do five days of school a week, but one of the days was a complete educational meltdown–it happens); ferried teenage boys to two different social events; mucked out the pasture twice; researched the events in Mesoamerica and South America between 900 and 1200 AD; and…wait, there was something else.

Thank goodness my mother LIKES cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

Anyway, my focus has been narrowing over the past week, which means my usual multitasking abilities, already diminished by AGE, are declining EXPONENTIALLY.

So I’ve been collecting signs that my brain is shedding side-tasks which it deems unnecessary. You know you’re about to pop a mental valve when…

1. You walk back and forth to the garden several times, collecting vegetables for dinner, without realizing that the large brown creature snacking in the Swiss chard is NOT a dog, but rather an escaped pony.

2. While making bolognese sauce, you toss the ground beef into the trashcan and the styrofoam supermarket tray into the frying pan.

3. You carefully set the coffeemaker to go off at 5:30 AM so that you can get in some writing time before the kids get up, but you forget to put in either water or coffee.

4 You carefully put your Blackberry in the refrigerator and drop the cheddar cheese into the outside pocket of your computer bag.

5. You let all the library books get five weeks overdue and write the grateful librarian a check for $145.20.

6. After writing the check, you make three circuits back through the library looking for a missing child before you realize that they’re all in the van, so you must be searching for the imaginary child you never had.

7. You try to balance the checkbook the next day and notice that you haven’t recorded the last five checks you wrote, including the amount to the library you’ve now forgotten, so that paying the bills becomes an exciting roulette-type activity.

8. You say to your seventeen-year-old son, “Mommy’s getting ready to have a nap, so let’s all be very quiet,” and he looks at you as though you’ve suddenly dropped twenty IQ points.

9. Around 10 AM, you think to yourself, “Time for a hot bath and a glass of wine.” (No, I didn’t. I just THOUGHT it.)

10. You don’t just call all the kids by the wrong names–you end up throwing the dog and horse into the mix too. (“Hey, Ben–I mean Dan–no, I mean Fluffles–“)

My number-one hope for the next month is that I can get through to December 19 without accidentally setting the house on fire.

Showing 23 comments
  • Renee (Drama Queen)


    I needed a laugh today.

    I also needed to know that someone else is suffering from mental energy deficiency!

  • Melissa

    ROFL! That was hilarious. Sadly, I can relate. I hit the same number you hit this year. And it gets worse by the day. Hang in there. If anyone can do it, it’s you.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • JumpedIntoTheDeepEndFirst

    Just remember to leave the number for 911 on that cheese in your computer bag 🙂 Hang in there!

  • Overworked

    Great to see you have a sense of humor about all this. I can relate. I own a small business and with all the economic challenges ahead I have been spending more time than normal pounding out spreadsheet scenario after spreadsheet scenario trying to figure out what course of action to take in order to survive. In the meantime, my wife just subtly reminded me that the heater quit working on the car, the second bathroom toilet is constantly clogging, the thermostat furnace is not working properly causing it to run when it shouldn’t and not run when it should. The plates on the second car expired and Thanksgiving and Christmas are hurtling down the tracks. Business, what business, who cares!

  • Janice in NJ

    Hmmm… wonder if we had our hsing melt-down on the same day. Was it something in the air? Or is it just the nature of the beast. Everyone gets X number of good days when you feel like you’ve FINALLY figured this parenting/educating thing out and then you HAVE to have Y number of ego-correcting bad days. I suspect that it caps things off nicely – keeps me from getting a big head and all that. 🙂

    Gosh it’s so yuckie though! Funny thing that – hsing reminds me of doing audio at church. NO one notices when you are doing a good job – EVER! But when everything starts squealing and the feedback loop implodes on itself getting louder and louder, ALL heads turn to see who is botching the job.

    Interesting that. Humility and all. What a ride!

    I hope that your weeks slide into places of peace where all seems right with the world! 🙂


  • mary kathryn

    Oh! You poor thing! If I were there, I’d pat you on the head, and try not to do any damage 🙂 I’ve called everybody by the wrong names. And I’ve ALMOST put things in the wrong spot, but caught myself beforehand. Ever poured your orange juice on your cereal? That’s a favorite of mine.

    You need MORE SLEEP. That will cure all ills. Your brains are still there. Somewhere.

  • Staci at Writing and Living

    They’re all funny, but I’m still giggling about #8.

  • Susan in TX

    I’m soooo relieved to know that I’m not the only one who searches for that “extra” child! You are definitely in good company…I’ve told my children many times that I taught them all their names very young so that they would know who they were and I wouldn’t have to keep up with extra information! 🙂
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours,
    Susan in TX

  • Heather

    Well, you aren’t alone. Last year, I left one raw ham out all night in a very warm kitchen and had to throw it away. I went back to the store and bought another one and popped it in the oven right away, after adding the mustard and honey and brown sugar… two hours later I realized that I put all that stuff on the plastic wrapper, which was now permanently melded to the ham. I finally sent Josh to buy some deli ham and swore I’d never cook another ham as long as I live.

  • Amanda Read

    Haha! How funny, even I (and a few people I know from large families) have sometimes mixed up the names of our siblings and pets – it’s crazy!


  • Jenny in Ca

    oh I feel your pain. I operate close to this on a normal basis, and I can’t claim to be doing anything literary or intellectual on the side…throw in constant anemia and the results are pretty silly. I think what gets me the most is the self-sabotage. I am actually a little afraid to check my library account right now, though it will not be anywhere near your find! Yikes! Thanks for the chuckle, I feel a little more normal now.

  • Jennifer

    This was perfect. I was actually going to post on the forum asking you what you do when you completely overload with too many commitments. I’ve been working on proofreading pages to send to an editor this week and my focus narrowed so much that everything else went absolutely blooey. Yesterday my 11 yr old son came to hang out with me while I tried to study for an Accounting midterm. I finally said, (with tears in my eyes and a horrible quaver in my voice) “Look; I can’t understand this problem when you’re not talking to me. There’s no way I can do it while you’re talking to me. I’m going to flunk this test on Monday if you don’t let…me…do…this!”

    He walked away with a look that just stabbed me in the heart. I sat and had a good cry and then promised myself that I would never take on this much stuff all at once again.

  • Pam aka newlifemom

    ROFLOL. Not just you, but all the responses too. I am glad I am not the only crazy hsing mom out there. 🙂


  • battlemaiden

    Naps? Bolognese sauce? There is still some wiggle room before the complete meltdown. You’re safe.


  • Karen

    It is, fortunately, fairly difficult to set the house on fire through
    mental gasket pops. I cook ten pounds of carrots at a time
    for my dogs and have twice left them steaming with just an
    inch of water in the pan, for three hours because I completely
    forgot about them. Both times there was a horrific scorched
    smell, lots of steamy smoke, and gunk on the pot bottoms —
    but, I am so grateful to report, no fire. I now stick to the
    microwave and frozen vegetables. I have set the cook time
    to 28 minutes instead of 2 minutes and 8 seconds; but that
    mistake, I catch!

  • Faithe

    OH Susan!! Thanks for the chuckle. My husband told me today I remind him of the Dorrie fish from Finding Nemo…I can’t figure out why…Now where are those car keys?? What was I looking for?? Drive?? Drive where??OOOHHHH!!!!
    I think it is awesome you REMEMBERED all the kids AND animals names. That was good. Funny thing is, my kids will answer to whichever name I call them…and sometimes I just ask..Hey you! What’s your name again??
    Seems lately I can’t get my sentences out all in a row and I am mixing my metaphors like “Stick that in your hat and smoke it!” HUH?? Must be the hormones or my Mom’s old age rubbing off on me.

    OY VEY!!

  • Christina

    I’m sure your blackberry enjoyed the moment of peace in the refrigerator 🙂 I know that I am tired when I look directly at my husband and cannot remember his name – sad but he understands.

  • AmyL

    Oooohhhhhh, poor Susan! You do forgive us for laughing, don’t you?

    I gave up on keeping the names of my kids straight long ago. It works better to just count heads….one-two-three-four.

    As long as I have the right number of short people in tow, I’m good. Right?


  • Kate CA

    I just want to know if you tried to answer the cheese. 🙂

    Your post truly made me giggle. I hope your life slows down a bit – you deserve a rest. 🙂


  • Anna

    Oh, thank goodness I’m not the only one.

  • Laurie

    This morning while making coffee in our electric drip coffee maker, I put coffee in the filter basket, poured water into the tank, and pushed the “on” button. A few minutes later I noticed that the empty carafe was still in the in the sink, and fresh, hot brewed coffee was dripping onto my counter top : O) I’m not even reading a book about medieval history, let alone writing one!

    Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving,


  • Christina

    So know what you mean. Last night I went to put the bag of mozzarella in the oven (which was on). And then I went to get my 15 month old from my 7 year old’s hip and put my hands under my 7 year old’s arms. We had a good laugh about that. These things happen daily-a little scary, I think. But you have to laugh, or else lose your mind for sure. Or maybe both?

  • nancypants

    If this weren’t so painfully true of most mothers (even those who aren’t “professoring” and writing history books) I wouldn’t have let out so raucous a guffaw! Pretty sure every mother’s heart is with you in this post! Thanks for “keepin’ it real” for us!

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