“I need a notebook for my science project.”
My mom answered, “put it on THE LIST.”
“We’re out of peanut butter!”
“Put it on THE LIST, “ my mother responded.
My mother’s LIST.
My mother was a great fan of list-making.
Both a hobby and an art form, she raised a simple tool for organization to a sacred practice, bringing us all closer to God.
Yes, attend Sunday School and church was on always on THE LIST.
THE LIST held the answer to just about every need a child could mention. THE LIST ensured birthday gifts were bought and the laundry got done.
My mother’s LIST was always scribbled on 4×4 white notepaper. I was certain her handwriting was some mysterious grown-up language. I never could read it.
My mother lived by THE LIST, which was clamped to our harvest gold side-by-side fridge with a magnet. I did not inherit my mother’s organizational DNA.
THE LIST was filled with items to buy, errands to run, and events to attend. Pre-dating the revolutionary sticky note, her list was sacred, and she always managed to keep up with it. I’m pretty sure Mom would have bought large amounts of stock in sticky notes if they had been around in 1975.
The power of THE LIST.
My mother’s list had power.
She never left the house without THE LIST.
Do I hear an “Amen” from the compulsive list makers in the house?
The wonder of THE LIST.
Like many children watching the strange ways of adults, I simply didn’t understand the value of keeping a list.
I was often frustrated with my mother’s sacred LIST. “I’m never going to drive my kids nuts, forcing them to put every detail on a list,” I foolishly vowed in my teen years. “When I leave this house, that is going to be the end of THE LIST!”
I wish I hadn’t said that. Hence the reflections of a reluctant list maker.
Let me tell you, those were childish words I’ve eaten many times over, served up with a heaping helping of humble pie. Somehow I survived the college years, giving a nod to a calendar in lieu of THE LIST. In my twenties, I prided myself on the ability to keep my list in my head, remembering appointments and deadlines with razor-sharp precision.
Most of the time.
Those days are long gone.
When my mother’s LIST became my list.
Babies came and I entered the parenting years where brainpower for details weakened with sleepless nights and crying babies.
Yet still I resisted list keeping.
Once my children outnumbered the adults in my house, I began to see the light.
I marched into the nearest Staples and bought a life-time supply of sticky notes in every color available. In that life-changing moment, I did not yet know I had missed the prime list-making-brain-development years.
My mother had a gift for list making honed from an early age. Waiting until my 30’s, I struggled to reach the barely-get-by skill of list making.
My chaos-bent brain matter had hardened to a chronic state of reluctant list making. Some people think in straight lines and bullet points.
Here’s a few items on my current to-do list:
Now here’s the way I naturally think:
List making is a learned (somewhat) skill that I force myself to practice. In fact, just this morning my daughter complained, “Mom, we’re out of milk.”
Guess what I said?
“Put it on THE LIST!”
Are you a list maker? Share your reflections in the comments.
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