'Just one more thing' will be the death of me

I was really looking forward to having dinner with a friend last Friday night. My husband and daughter were both going to be out, and I was excited for the chance to relax and catch up with her.

I was all ready to go when I decided I had time to throw a load a laundry into the wash before I left the house. That way I wouldn’t have to stay up late waiting for the clothes to come out of the dryer. I headed downstairs to the laundry room and was still sorting clothes when I heard my daughter’s voice.

“Bye, Mom,” she called out. “I’m leaving.”

I felt a moment of panic. She was headed across the street to babysit at 6:15 p.m. I was supposed to leave at 6:15 p.m. I stopped turning inside-out socks right-side-out, threw in some laundry detergent, turned the machine on and left my house in a rush. I was late, of course, but my friend understood.

“I always think I can do just one more thing before I leave,” I told her. She nodded knowingly.

The list of “one more things” I’ve tried to do before leaving is long. I’ve loaded dishes and started the dishwasher, refilled the dog’s food container from the bin in the basement and sorted through the pile of mail sitting on the kitchen counter. I’ve even tried to take the dog for a quick walk around the block or call the dentist to schedule an overdue cleaning.

I am particularly vulnerable to this urge on weekday mornings before I head into work. I don’t want to face a sink full of dishes when I get home, so I try to wash them quickly before I leave. If it’s garbage day, I might convince myself I have time to quickly clean out the fridge so I don’t have to do it after work.

The problem is none of the activities take as few minutes as I have available. And so I am perpetually late, even though I am a firm believer in punctuality — at least theoretically.

For several years I tried to blame being late on my daughter. Her pace seems to be the same every morning — whether she gets up on time and has a full 30 minutes to get ready or oversleeps and has a mere 15 minutes before we need to head out the door. (She did not inherit my feelings on punctuality.)

But the truth is even when I’m not waiting for her, I’m often late. And it’s usually because I’m trying to do just one more thing. The problem is there is always have one more thing to do. My “to do” list is never really done.

Just this week, I found myself stopping at the store after work to buy some rice. I had carefully planned our meals for the week and purchased rice when I went grocery shopping on Saturday. I had not anticipated that my dog would get sick and I would need to feed her the rice I planned to serve with chicken satay Tuesday night.

As for my laundry-induced lateness on Friday, my friend didn’t mind. We had a wonderful time. When I got home, I put the clothes in the dryer — where they remained until morning, as I promptly fell asleep on the couch.

So I had just one more thing to do Saturday morning before heading to the grocery store.

— Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean