Why I’m Letting Go of My Todo List

baby-165067_1280I’m a list person. When I wake up in the morning, I make a list of things to get done Today. Once something is on the list, it is like an itch that needs to be scratched. Somehow, someway (often late at night), I am determined it will get done before bed.

I get a little thrill out of checking each item off the list. If I had my way, as soon as my feet hit the floor in the mornings, I would get to work and not stop until every item on the list was complete. And I prefer to do everything in the order that makes the most sense. It bothers me if I realize I didn’t work efficiently. Like, the dishwasher should run overnight and if when I wake up the morning I realize I forgot to start it, I am perturbed.

It’s probably indicative of some psychological need to control things, but I like feeling like I make the best use of time. So, every morning I wake up with these self-imposed deadlines. Or, at least, I like to.

But, inevitably before I’ve checked even one or two items off the list, a call comes from down the hall and interrupts my train of thought: “Mommy!” A perfectly timed reminder of my current situation.

Most of the things on my list get interrupted. So as I tap the brakes on my productivity train, I sigh. Some things will have to wait. But then, I think the most comforting thought:

This is just the phase of life I’m in.

The heavy sigh that escapes my lips as I shift gears and go to answer the beckoning is accompanied by a smile. I do love that sweet little voice. I want my little ones to want me and even enjoy how much they need me.

I know someday I’ll be the one calling for their attention when they are pulled in a hundred other directions, but for now, these little souls and their bodies are dependent upon my answering their calls for needs or comfort.

Just for a little while, the Today lists are kept short — and some things will have to wait.

Her diaper is dirty and then she’ll need milk, which cannot be rushed, then her older brother will be up shortly after. It may take hours to check one thing off but I know these years will go by in a blink. I have to see that tending to their needs and soaking up love is productivity of a different kind.

Sometimes I’ll read something inspirational, something that makes me want to take a leap professionally or start a big project or make a big impact. And I start to imagine this militant schedule where projects are seamlessly finished, deadlines are all promptly met and I can muscle through my schedule to make everything fit.

Just as I am about to push myself over the edge of a big commitment, I remember what I would have to sacrifice to make it happen.

I count the balls that I’m juggling and the things I value most: nursing babies, spending some down time as a family, keeping our home peaceful and low-stress… I realize now is not the time.

But this is just the phase of life I’m in.

I miss a lot of social events. Sometimes I turn down invitations because my schedule seems limited or the effort seems too much on my kids or husband.

Other times I do not get included and I’m split — sometimes sad, other times relieved that I do not have to decline. Or I have to cancel last minute because someone got a stomach bug and we all had a long night. Even if I decide to go without my kiddos, my heart is in two places. I’m not fully present.

This is just the phase of life I’m in.

Every once in awhile, I come across articles with catchy titles and cannot help but read them:

“The Importance of Getting 8 Solid Hours of Sleep”
“The Perfect DayTime Makeup Routine”
“How to Get Your Teenage Body Back in 6 Months”
“How to Stage Your Living Room to be Magazine Worthy”

I’ll jump down a rabbit hole of links to articles or photos of fitness goals, trendy fashion selfies and beautifully curated living rooms with gorgeous, white furniture. While all of these things have a place and are fun and can bring joy, they are not going to take a top spot on my list of priorities at this time.

Uninterrupted sleep seems a distant memory, but there is something so sweet about snuggling next to a nursing baby.

Some days it feels good to dress up, but most days I don’t want to use my good makeup when the only faces who see mine during the day don’t notice the difference.

My body is being used for so many incredible purposes right now, but it does not resemble a teenager’s. And my home is comfy and cozy for little ones who carry around leaky sippy cups and crayons, but that includes stained couch pillows and toy buckets and that’s fine — no pressure to keep it all in pristine condition!

That’s just the phase of life I’m in.

I’ve seen some mothers who seem to juggle so much more than I do and do it happily. But I know our obligations are different, that they have advantages and struggles I do not know about. Rather than comparing my plate to someone else’s and lamenting my limitations, I’m going to embrace them. That may mean walking away from all the pretty, curated images and just being present.

I think the older we get, the easier it is to handle the passage of time. To my four year old, waiting 15 minutes is “foreeeeeever.” But I know now that a year goes by in a flash, and these years of waiting for the next stage of life is brief.

So, even though this one comes with less sleep, more running late, less doing things on my own terms — it also comes with a lot of cup-filling purpose and memories and love. More than I ever thought. Not a bad trade off. And I’m content with the work of Today.

3 thoughts on “Why I’m Letting Go of My Todo List”

  1. What an excellent article! I feel that way as well. Raising 8 children, I’ve had to talk to myself a lot about these things, and come to the same conclusions. I gave up lists over a decade ago and never regretted it. Children and their needs are way more important than me getting items ticked off a self imposed list of things to do.

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