“Aren’t you going to bed?” my husband Rob said, looking at my bright, yellow rubber gloves.
“I’ll be up soon,” I replied, squeezing a sponge. “I just need to clean up a little.”
“Una Mas,” he said, shaking his head as he turned towards the stairs.
I can’t help myself. There’s always one more thing to do before something else and not enough time to complete the task: one more area to scrub, one more toy to pick up; one more drawer to organize. The kitchen floor is sticky and crunchy. My windows are permanently smudged. And there’s that pesky, pink ring around the toilet bowl I’ve been meaning to get to. I have no clean underwear and can’t find any matching socks.
Never mind that I haven’t showered, painted my toenails, nor responded to e-mail. These things are like the pesky critters in Whac-A-Mole – clobber one and another pops up. Finding time to accomplish what I want, including sleep within 24 hours is challenging. Add one demanding child, an exuberant dog, and itinerant husband to the mix and life becomes… well… crazy!
Una Mas, or Una Cosa Mas – Spanish for one more thing – I reason, is an incurable obsessive-compulsive disorder soon to join the ranks of substance abusers, gambling addicts, and shop-a-holics. Unfortunately, it lacks a twelve-step process and a sympathetic husband. Thus, I continue to tack things onto my day, until I resemble the poor donkey at a child’s birthday party – hopelessly pinned with appendages in strange places.
It’s not that I procrastinate. I am organized, detailed, efficient, and simply unreasonable when it comes to time.
Years ago, when I worked for an ad agency and rarely made it home before 7 pm, my husband would call looking for an estimated time of arrival. I’d tell him that I’d be home in a half hour – just as soon as I dashed off a quick memo, or approved creative. Another hour would pass before I walked out the door. Eventually, he caught on and told me to quit lying. After all, what was so important it couldn’t wait until the next day? I tried to suppress my Una Mas, but I would always find another call to make, e-mail to send, request to fill, and fire to stomp out. Sometimes, it wasn’t my fault. Co-workers, clients and bosses also had a knack for unloading their Una Mas on me.
During my tenure, I had the joy of working with a lazy teammate who left me to meet with her client while she dashed out the door to make her 5 o’clock pedicure. “You know how it is,” she said, showing her fangs. “If you don’t make the appointment, you get charged anyway.” I wanted to take off my Manolo Blahnik knock-offs and throw them at her.
Client meetings were also treacherous. “And one more thing,” the client said, as my fingers brushed the doorknob. She sounded like Steve Jobs’ classic line in product announcements “and there’s one more thing.” But I knew it wasn’t going to be a pleasant experience. My mind was on my poor dog, who was probably whining and crossing his legs.
“I need you guys to put a direct mailer together for this charity fundraiser,” she said. Oh, no! I thought, not the dreaded, thankless, probono project. They suck the life out of you. “By tomorrow,” she said as I took the paper from her glossy, white-tipped fingers, hoping that my creative director wouldn’t kill me. But what could I say to the lady who just approved a half million in billings? No? I don’t think so.
Bring it on!
Perhaps my trouble with Una Mas began when I purchased my first PDA (Also known as a personal digital assistant. And yes, I’m totally dating myself!). Drowning in a yellow sea of sticky notes, I turned to the palm-sized, techno-gizmo to better manage my professional life. I used the handheld to organize everything in my world – creating hundreds of lists, and scheduling workouts, play dates, meet-ups, and writing. I added contacts, jotted character notes, copied recipes, and kept track of family doctor visits. I compiled gift ideas, tracked purchases, logged definitions of words, and stored lots of other useless crap. I had Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a portable keyboard. I had successfully eliminated the dreaded Post-It note from my life. But had I gone too far?
My PDA was Una Mas on speed. And today, I’m an app junkie with my iPhone. I have over 60 apps to manage my one more thing addiction.
Several years ago, I recall wandering through my mind fog when a little Buddha emerged and tugged my hand. “Mommy, let’s go,” said my then four-year-old.
“Okay, Okay,” I said, stopping at the mailbox. “Let me just check the mail.” I peered into the dark cavern for the elusive multi-million dollar book contract.
“Mommy!” James stomped his foot and crossed his arms. “You’re always doing something.” Oh boy! He was right.
I promised to walk with him. Fame and fortune needed to wait; being with my son can’t. His cute and cuddly era was temporary. So what, if I don’t take a daily shower, return messages right away or cook dinner every night. It’s far more important to play dragons, build a zoo, or make alligator soup with my neighbor’s dandelions.
Over time I have lowered my standards on hygiene and cleanliness, but I continue to struggle against Una Mas. When I do find myself trying to cram in one more thing like a mad squirrel forcing another nut into a wedge that’s too tight, I take a deep breath and gently remind myself that (1) the laundry can wait until tomorrow, (2) the toys are fine piled in a heap on the floor and (3) I don’t smell that bad. Everything is as it should be. My family is happy, healthy, and tired. I am blessed. And now, I can go to bed.
“Honey?” my husband said, as I slipped between the sheets. “Did you take the dog out?”