Thursday, May 24, 2007

Lists



Trying to pretend this is a Monday Musing would be wrong, although that is truthfully how it started. As usual my best of laid plans in my Groundhog Day life have gone out the window. The list of "Must Get Done" items have been down-graded to, 'Next Week" items. Things meant to be done today are pushed off for never. I have managed to cancel my dentist appointment for the second time, change my volunteer day to next week, and differ several important errands for next week.

How does this happen? I am an extremely organized person, I have a routine and self-imposed schedule I try to follow. Why then does any day I make a plan for fall apart with such spectacular display? Yes, there are the sick kids and sudden dramas that drag me away, but mostly I feel like it is me. I just cannot get on top of all the things I want to, in the timely manner I think is appropriate. The real answer I fear may be my new love of blogging, but let's not touch on that just yet. I prefer to think it is Rosebud's chronic and constant battle with constipation that is making me a little crazy lately.

There are the daily things like, making meals, making lunches, baths, homework, playing outside, and general tidying up. Then there are the weekly things like cleaning the house, washing the sheets, buying groceries, and making sure we are not double-booked on the weekends. Then there are the other things you need to fit in like haircuts, doctor appointments, dentist appointments, birthday parties, baby showers, and more birthday parties (May is killer for us) all the while trying to get to those other big important jobs. You know like washing the patio doors so you can actually see outside or finding all the sun hats you carefully put away last fall.

I make lists to keep this all in order, I usually have a weekly list of things to do at home and things to do out, which includes any thing I need to pick up or buy. Dividing it this way helps me sort out what needs to be done first and what is most important. How much do I rely on my lists? Well, this week I forgot to put honey on the grocery list so I kept reminding myself all the way to the store, "don't forget to get honey" and of course did not remember it. If it is not on my list it simply does not get done. I used to blame Mommy Brain, but truthfully I have always been a list person. When I worked in an office I loved the on-line to-do list features of my email/calendar program; I would supplement my personal lists in my planner with that list each week, printing out a copy. Then once I got a Palm Pilot I was on my way! All my lists in one tidy place, yippee!

While I love lists and the function they serve, what I don't like is when those things don't get done. The lovable list then becomes a tangible reminder of my failings. There was a time when I would be mortified to mail a birthday card late, now I often mail it the day before (or of) the person's birthday. I have left belated messages on many an answering machine in days since I have become a mother. I get the idea that you just cannot stay on top of things the same way you used to, but what amazes me is the rapid decline. It seemed to happen for me when Rosebud came along, I think before she came along I had a better ability to keep my house of cards standing.

I have noticed now that I fluctuate between being largely not bothered my lists and the fact that I rewrite them each week just adding more stuff and being very concerned to the point where I lie away at night stressing over it all and letting those inky dark thoughts creep in as Beck so well articulated. Can you guess where I am right now? Yeah, the never-ending, never crossed off lists are bothering me. In my rational mind, when the sun of the morning shines in, I can completely understand the reasons, we were in New York, we have been busy, there have been other unavoidable circumstances taking me away from my own life. I get all that, I really do. In my darker moments though the fact that I am a staying at home and don't have everything under control (by my standards) bothers me, a lot. There are days I want to write things like get up on my list just so I can cross something off.

I am sure I will not reach the end of my days and wish that everything on my list was crossed off, I am completely confident that the smug satisfaction of cleaning the basement and putting all the photos in the album will not be my first thoughts of measuring the success and happiness of my life. Papoosie Girl asked me the other day how old my Dad was when he went to heaven, after telling her he was 48 she started to cry. She was worried that since Daddy is 41 that something bad could happen to him and it took a lot of awkward explaining and reassuring that this doesn't happen to everyone. This week my best friend's Dad suffered a massive heart attack and he is still in the hospital. He is supposed to leave for a long-awaited trip to Europe with his wife, the first trip abroad for them. They now have to postpone the trip, life is so unfair sometimes.

My good, sane mind knows that at the end of the day my lists are nothing more than my neuroses on paper. As my eyes fill with tears at the enormity of what I want to accomplish and the silliness of this self-imposed pressure I know that it doesn't really matter how many things get crossed off. I think I cling to my lists in some desperate way of controlling what I know cannot be controlled. Life is not a tidy list meant to be trudged through, checking things off, "eat dinner" next, "read to kids", next "love husband", next and on and on. Life is complicated and messy and wonderful too. The pizza delivery man said this to us recently, "any day I am on this side of the ground is a good day" maybe a bit crude, but wholly true.

Wasting time worrying about inconsequential things seems to be my specialty lately. I feel like I am somehow going to be judged on these undone things, when I know in fact the only one judging is myself. A little self-diagnosis perhaps, but I think I know myself pretty well. I tend to go though these cycles and I know I will be on the other side soon. The side where my list stays stuck on the bulletin board for months, untouched. I realize this is fundamental to my personality and I actually do love my very organized and diligent self. Just some days it really can be my mental downfall.

Bring on the kids, bring on the healthy bodies, bring on the summer fun and what really matters. I know that I will never complete any list I make, that is the nature of the beast. So for today, I say, shhh clever little mind we are taking a vacation day and the only list I want to read is the menu at Starbucks.

8 comments:

Christine said...

Oh, i am a HUGE list maker, too! I sometimes make little scribbly lists and other times big elaborate print out lists. And i know how it is to leave a list incomplete. I hate that feeling. Enjoy your Starbucks!

Mad Hatter said...

Yes, we don't really talk about it but blogger after blogger alludes to it. This joy, this past-time, this sanity keeping hobby that might just possibly be shattering our brains into fragments. I hear you. Loud. And. Clear.

Beck said...

As much as I love blogging, I do know that it's not actually good for me - I'm happiest when I manage to quiet my constant narrative. I've actually been thinking seriously of hanging up my blogger hat for a while, but we shall see.
Hey, I also love refereces to myself in other people's posts! Fun.

Alpha DogMa said...

I've just learned to embrace the chaos. But now I fear that my lazy-daisy organization (ie it is noon and I'm still in my pajamas) has made me unfit to ever return to the reality of paid employment.

Omaha Mama said...

It's like you plucked this from my brain! I make lists and lists of lists. In fact, I'm needing to get a list together tonight, of more things to do. It never ends. I hope you find some peace with it at Starbucks, let me know if that works!

Oh, The Joys said...

I try to be so organized, but I find the older I get, the less it workds. I am a BROKEN woman!

Omaha Mama said...

Oooo, a teaching degree. I started back when Brenna was 5 mo. old. For a career path I wanted, but also one that seemed mommy-friendly. So far I haven't been all that disappointed. I hope you find the choice that's right for you!

Omaha Mama said...

Sorry for the random comment - the email function isn't working on blogger and I wanted to respond (and am admittedly impatient) to your comment over at my place. Thought I'd clarify - for anyone reading comments who may think I've just lost it!