A Half-hour List

“Mom, I’m only concerned about me right now.” Liam with a sore throat and a doctor’s appointment on the near horizon. Me trying to tell him the plan for the weekend as related to sitting through his brother’s 6-hour gymnastics meet. I’m unsure how to feel about the brutal honesty of my newly 10-year-old son. I could find 100 quotes for and against this premise. At the beginning of the New Year, I’m perched squarely on a wide fence, pondering: give freely to the world vs make yourself happy.

I carry a small notebook around with me. It holds more necessities than my calendar. If I miss an appointment on my calendar, someone will call me. As for the list book, it’s my direction for the days and the weeks. Jobs I can do in 15 minutes or less around the house. Grocery lists. Chores for the boys. Weekly breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus for three different appetites. Notes about special projects: what have I done or who have I called to make something happen. A list of story ideas. Summer Camp dates.

And my most creative – and eventually, very labor-intensive list: 47 ideas for December’s Advent calendar. That list takes up four pages. Trying not to create a 24-day supply chain of sugar, I scoured the internet for ideas, finding sayings, science experiments, and holiday activities to do with the kids. On Day 19, the previous two Advent days had been un-opened by Will and Liam. I didn’t force it. While I was doing it for them, it was exhausting me, but I was very proud of it. Gold star Mom – for 19 out of the 24 days of Advent. But I digress, for the Advent calendar is another story.

I’m cleaning out my list book and have another one ready to go for 2016. Most of the lists are garbage at this point. However, I’m left with the annual dilemma of what to do with those pages I really need. Tear them out and try to file them with the appropriate subject in that ever-changing non-filing system I have implemented in our house? No, those pages would probably be better off left intact in the spiral bound book. Perhaps I will remember to look in it for important information this coming year. Then there is my niece’s Christmas list. Seeing me writing in my book, she asked what my book was. Hearing “list book,” she asked if she could write her Christmas list in it. Can I ever part with that bit of magic written in her 4-year-old hand? Doubtful.

When I’m traveling, I like to write a different type of list: deep-cleansing lists. Generally, this happens on airplanes and in airports during layovers – plenty of those on the trip to Iowa! (Click here for details!) Away from the normal routines and every day responsibilities, these lists are like flyovers of our lives. Do the cars need new tires? Did we ever completely finish the paperwork for our will? What little jobs projects around the house need to be done and can be done in 15 minutes? How can I make better use of time in a day? In a week? What loose ends need to be fixed? In some crazy way, this list freshens daily life for me and shakes up the goals – or rather re-establishes goals forgotten. Or never set?

I found a single page in my book titled “1/2 hour goals – daily.” I remembered writing it; I hadn’t implemented it on a daily basis by a long shot. The goal: for ½ hour a day do one of the things from the short list. It was supposed to be a longer list, but I hadn’t revisited it. Embroider. Read. Write. Send birthday cards. A very short list of things I enjoy doing.

In 2016, the Puritanical guilt needs to take a sabbatical. Surely, it’s OK to say for a half-hour a day, “I’m only concerned about me right now.”

I’ve been writing for an hour today. It feels good.

Happy Hump Day.