Embracing Imperfection, or "My Adventures with SLOPPY Joes"

This is my first experience with blogging so you will be joining me on a new journey. I am not sure where to start except, I guess, with my own daily experiences as a woman with ADD in a good marriage and my experiences every day helping other women with ADD in their marriages.

Last night I was assigned the very simplest of tasks at dinnertime which was to open up a microwave package of rice and follow three easy steps- 1. squeeze (which I did very well I must say) 2. open and 3. microwave for 90 seconds. I was on a roll until step number 2.

I didn’t follow my own advice for a person with ADD and was trying to open the rice with a sharp knife while my husband (who was actually cooking dinner) was telling me some distressing news and well, let’s just say a sharp knife in uncoordinated hands while being distracted by conversation is not a great idea - I sliced my finger pretty well.

At the same time, my daughter came in, saw with horror that I was involved in preparing the meal and asked “what’s for dinner, SLOPPY joes?!”  My husband and daughter got a good laugh out of that and, believe it or not, I started to laugh, also. I really did think it was funny and descriptive of all my misadventures in the kitchen.

I tell you this to point out that my reaction was only possible because I have been at this for so long and because I do not measure my worth any more by how I open rice dishes or how well I prepare meals.  Believe me, this wasn’t always the case. 

For many years this kind of experience would have left me feeling inferior, guilty, and filled with shame. One of the advantages of getting older is being able to see oneself more clearly and learning to value one’s strengths. I now have an internal track record of other achievements and an appreciation of my other qualities. My self esteem arsenal has adequate resources from which I can draw at times like these.

I have also established a history with my family over the years where they know that even though I can laugh at myself, I will not accept meanness or their defining me by the struggles I have.  Limits and boundaries have been established and hard fought for in order for this to happen.

So here are some important points to work on in this battle toward embracing imperfection (the subject I will be discussing at two keynotes this fall (add.org and chaddnwmi.org )-

  1. You have to work on self acceptance FIRST, before you can expect this from your husband or family. They take their cues from you and you are the one who needs to draw the line about how they treat you and how they view you.
  2. You must get to the point inside yourself where you expect and will only accept respect from others. To do this you must find a way to put much more of your time and energy into developing and building your confidence and competence. The goal is not to make perfect rice but to have a fulfilling and satisfying life.
  3. Examine how much time you are spending each week in activities in which you are developing your sense of competence and how much time each week you are spending with people who can truly see you as a whole person and not just focus on your problems.
  4. Work toward improvement – rather than a full solution.  You don’t need to get over all your challenges before you allow yourself to have a life. 

And, most importantly, work toward wholeness, not perfection. When you begin to see life and yourself  through this new perspective your relationships will start to improve. It starts from inside.

Sari Solden is a therapist and author of "Women with Attention Deficit Disorder: Embrace Your Differences and Transform Your Life" and "Journeys into ADDulthood".  We appreciate her expertise, particularly in the area of how women can manage their ADD and what special issues they face.


Am i ?


  I am new to this site..I always feel like there is something wrong with me ..I always wants to reach my goal ,to be perfect in whatever things i do...but the problem is that i am not able to finish anything properly...feeling too much sad that i am losing so many important opportunities in my life..sometimes my mind itself becomes my enemy..i starts praying to god...to help me,,and while i am studying i am not able to concentrate, I used to be a topper in my school but everything changed so soon ...that i am now feeling as a looser..nobody is there to give me a shoulder..I have not shared this problem to anyone!!Pls help me so that i can do better in my life...Yes..but i have a hope that i can change..!

Knives in the kitchen

When my husband and I are cooking, he knows that he needs to do the chopping, because I'm a menace to myself and make him nervous when I'm handling knives.  Most of the time I'm fine, but the times I'm not....  Now, if only he could be more accepting of other areas where my ADD affects my behavior.

Helpful Advice

I like your comment to work toward IMPROVEMENT rather than a full solution or perfection.  I think I can do that!

NOVA1986's picture

I am a mother of two daughters..

I am a mother of two daughters, they are doing more than great at school, nevertheless I am concern about their future. Their father is diagnosed with ADD 5 years ago and I am pretty sure my mother-in-law also (not diagnosed). I have my eyes open for any signs of this condition. I am happy to read from all of you who are brave enough to share your life, because I need some ideas and guide, so I can help them if they need it. My older daughter get frustrated in the kitchen, my youngest love it. Both love to read, they are happy girls with unique talents and challenges, I pray that they don't got this condition, so they can perform in live in a way that they don't fall in depression or lack of self-esteem. But the chances or having it are great, and want to be prepare to be able to help them, I think this forum will do part of my resources. Thank you very much you all are great!


I am a woman with ADHD.  I

I am a woman with ADHD.  I agree with everything you said.  I completely understand where you are coming from.  Many times I hear from the non-ADHD spouse vent about their ADHD spouse.  It makes my cring and depressed; therefore, I choose not to read it.   When I do read it, it makes me want to say "hey wait a minute, since when are you easy to live with".  I don't read it often because it distracts me from focusing on my own ADHD AND my strengths.  I also realize while ADHD is a disorder it can also be used as a strength (not a crutch, a strength).  For example:  for me to someone and give them their undivided attention is a blessing.  Yes, I need to radio and t.v off, but I believe that is what everyone should do anyway.  I have the ability to "wear my heart on my sleeve".  Yes, I "put my foot in it", but sometimes things just need to be said for something to get done or for someone to "get the point". 

The kitchen is the one place

The kitchen is the one place the I can be so easily distracted waiting for water to boil can be disatorous, somehow i always think i can do something else while i am waiting. Grilled cheese is almost always burnt on one side. The joke in the house is we can always just scrape the black off and it won't take much different. So now i announce to my family when i am cooking and the kids hop in to assist or remind me when i get distracted.

kitchen shortcuts

I'm also very easily distracted in the kitchen - so dull!

But I have found a few helpful tools

1) Crock pot cooking! Prep the night before, store in Fridge, take out in the AM on the way to work, place in crockpot, plug in and double check that the thing is heating up,  enjoy 'whenever' dinner happens.

2) Toaster Oven with a "count down" timer.  Place frozen french fries on tray, into Toaster Oven, set it for whatever the package says, and it shuts itself OFF at the proper time!!!! Yippee!!

3) Kitchen timer that fits in my pocket without shutting itself off.  This is a bit adventurous for me, sort of a once in a while thing.

4) Cooking - look for recipes that require hands to be busy every second - so scrambled eggs are better than fried. Any recipe that requires 'downtime' is off the list.

5) Cook for a day, eat for a month: If you can get your hyperfocus on, and have the freezer space, this style of cooking can be very satisfying. 

6) The Microwave - the fact that it turns itself off at the end of cooking time means so much!

My rule is 'know my weakness, plan ways around them, accept that life sometimes happens, say aloud: I have a lot of good qualities, X isn't one of them.

and with Pinterest, it makes

and with Pinterest, it makes the Crockpot cooking and Cook for a day, eat for a month types ALOT easier to maintain!! It has literally changed the way I feed my family and saved me a ton of money due to not having to go to the store all time because I hadn't planned anything out. I have never used a toaster oven with a timer, I will have to try that!

Knives in the Kitchen

My husband hates when I cook at all.  He is always afraid that I will create an accident (mind you is that he is also a neat freak).  He looks over my shoulder (which makes me more nervous).  When he does this I often just blurt out that he is not perfect and that he needs to leave me alone.  I wish sometimes he would focus on his problems and just leave me alone.  How do I make an non-ADHD spouse realize that he has issues too.

Speaking from a non-ADHD

Speaking from a non-ADHD spouse point of view, part of why he might feel obligated to watch over you is because the consequences of whatever mess gets made in the kitchen will fall onto his shoulders.  For example, if my ADHD spouse burns something in the kitchen, he will leave the blackened pot with burnt on food sitting in the sink for days, until I finally get sick of it and end up having to scrub and clean it myself.  Or if the pot is ruined, I have to throw it out and buy a new one (and since he is very irresponsible with money, I am the one that has to pay for these mistakes which can be costly).



Your spouse has a diagnosis

Your spouse has a diagnosis of a mental illness to fall back on as an excuse for their "failures", what is your excuse for being so mean?? You sound like you are raising a child that doesn't meet up to your standards. Keep it all in perspective. What would you do if your spouse read that post? I would be hurt to no end if I thought that my husband "got sick of it" and had to "go buy a new one" because I was "so irresponsible with money". I have several bad qualities that I have worked very hard on to overcome, and I'm still a work in progress. Sometimes it takes others working on them with you to help you out, and maybe your spouse needs some support with all of their multiple shortcomings that bother you so bad. Nobody's perfect.

Can you get an evaluation?

Can you go to a psychiatrist or a good psychologist who does evaluations and get a formal diagnosis? Some of your wording makes me think you may not live in the US. and in some other countries it is harder for adults, or even children, to get evaluation and treatment for ADHD. But my husband could have written your post, and ADHD meds have helped him some.

In the meantime, seek the company of friends or family and try to do things that bring you joy. Your sense of isolation makes everything worse.


re: Embracing Imperfection, or "My Adventures with SLOPPY Joes"

Thanks Terry and thanks for all the work you do helping women overcome their shame, accept themselves and learn to focus on their strengths.Women should check out Terry's book, Survival Tips for Women with ADD and ADDconsults.com.

re: Embracing Imperfection, or "My Adventures with SLOPPY Joes"

Sari, How great to see you on this wonderful blog. I love this story and many of us can relate. Thanks for adding your perspective to a situation that could otherwise bring us to our knees in tears. You've been such an inspiration; I hope you'll continue to add your voice to this great blog. Terry Matlen, ACSWhttp://addconsults.com/http://www.myADDStore.com


This post gave me such a chuckle!  My kitchen and I have tenuous relationship.  Especially when it involves the monotony of everyday meals.  Several years into my diagnosis my husband and I brainstormed about ways to avoid my commonplace disasters.

I have scorched MANY tea kettles and pots. Those little whistling kettles?  Simply won't work if you forget they're on and go outside to water the plants.....out of hearing range.  Our solution was to replace it with a hot water dispenser....no more fire hazard.

We invested in a rice cooker.  The children were amazed.  They'd always thought the way you knew rice was ready was the smell of burning rice!  They'd never had rice you didn't have to scrape away from a burned crust.

I learned to simplify, simplify, simplify if you actually want the entree and vegetables to make it to the table at the same time!

And I try to retain a sense of humor.  I rarely get everything on the grocery list on the first trip, even when I remember the list.  The kitchen usually looks like a cyclone hit when I'm finished cooking.  And my oldest daughter has to reorganize the pantry every time she comes home from college.  

But as a friend once told me....my kitchen is clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy!

add in the kitchen

I've been reading these posts, and laughing, thank the Lord I can laugh :)...Your post is refreshing to me for reason's I want try to list :)... My Angel of a wife( she has had other names over the past 6 years) has ADD, so I have lived most of these posts...We are finally after 4.5 years of BAD, 11 months of separation, and 10 months of counseling, we are learning to understand each other, and even having somewhat descent conversations...(don't laugh). I was a 50 year old widower w/ two grown married daughters when I met my 46 year old wife, (like my first wife, she was another gift from God, he had been saving for me...seriously!)  who had never been married. I lost my first wife of 30 years to breast cancer who was a quiet, sweet home body type, who fully trusted me to take care of things. I was a professional at this marriage stuff right??....Oh my Goodness! I didn't have a clue :)...I'm going to give a few tips here: If you are in a relationship that is struggling, get help! Let me guess: If its been going on for any length of time the add person does everything they can to separate themselves from you, and thinks you are mean, angry, and possibly out of control at times...And you feel unloved, disrespected, used, and taken advantage of, and you are probably bitter, but you want let it go, because its your protection. How did I do?? I don't care how normal, strong, self reliant, you are, if your married or dating a person with add/ADHD you must understand what it looks like and its effects to have a chance. It's tragic how we humans (maybe it's just me) can respond so negatively to what we don't understand. Add, has it's own face...and to a non adder, it looks like many things, non of them good...My wife still lives in a somewhat state of defensiveness, but I am learning to understand, just how hard it is for her to do things, I take for granted, or even worse, the statement I beat her with over 4 years..."its just common sense". If your in an ADD relationship you will have to adjust, you will have to daily put yourself in her/his shoes. They don't think like you, nor can most rationalize like you, that can't do certain task that you can do...But, they are as intelligent as you, maybe more and as important as you, and need loved, and understood like you. Just like in any marriage, you are not responsible for them, only to them. I finally figured out that me just being me, going through my normal daily routine's was creating insecurities in my wife...When she is feeling good about us (she says its when I'm being nice) she will brag on me how I can make 5 different things all get ready to eat at the same time...common sense for most people who can prepare a meal? Extremely difficult for adders. If you can't loose your expectations of what you call right or normal, you are in for problems. My marriage and yours may never look like what the world calls normal, but if love, kindness, and understanding rules in our homes...Who cares what the world thinks...I hope this blesses someone, it did me. :)