For as long as I can remember whenever I’ve called my mom with my head stuffed with a myriad of things to accomplish, and not nearly enough time to do them all in, she has always said, “have you made a list?” Usually my answer was “no”, but I got better at it, and now that I’m married, most Saturday mornings find me and my guy making a list of the things we’d like to get done. We do this so we can try to focus on the most urgent tasks, and so that we can know how to support each other in attending to our individual priorities as well.
Last Saturday we made such a list. It was pretty long. About an hour later however, I remembered to my delighted horror (that IS a thing), that my daughter’s birthday was tomorrow. I had been thinking all this time that it was Tuesday, but it was indeed Sunday. I had procrastinated buying anything significant and really didn’t know what to get because I hadn’t planned anything either. Mommy guilt trip planned and underway… And, being pretty set in our religious convictions, I knew that if there was any purchasing of presents or celebratory décor, it had to be done today. Suddenly, all the things that I had put on the all-important list, became, well, quite unimportant. I took my daughter out and we went to Build-a-bear where she settled for a stuffed animal palomino, in lieu of the real thing. I sat and watched her eat (very slowly) a pink cupcake, and on the way home I remember hearing her say, “you know what I love about my horsie? ALL OF IT!” She had a fun day, she had felt special, mission accomplished as the mommy guilt train left the station…phew!
I came home, really tired (there were a lot of bratty kids in build-a-bear, and it had taken a toll – FYI, the cupcake was awarded to one very well behaved child…). I put my babe down for a nap, and then snuck off to take one myself. Not long after which, my baby decided he’d much rather snuggle with mom. Which turned into, much rather explore my bed and tempt fate by crawling full speed right to the very edge. I got up and came downstairs.
There was a church meeting to go to, where we would get to hear from some of our female leaders from Church Headquarters. I was tired, I didn’t really feel like going. BUT, I remembered that a long time ago I almost didn’t go to a church meeting because I didn’t feel great, and I ended up hearing a talk that would impact my family and many, many others for good. So, I decided that if I really didn’t feel like going, I probably REALLY SHOULD go. So I did, and it really helped my whole mood, and spiritual energy go way up. I was able to sit with ladies who I love to laugh with, and the messages were truly inspiring. AND, I was able to get to Menchies with 5 minutes to spare to pick up a cake that my 4 year old talked all day about getting.
When I got home, my husband told me something that really struck me. He said, “I think you chose the right things today.” Had I? I guess I had. I had almost forgotten what I had even added to the list, but it didn’t matter then because I felt fulfilled. It made me think about how I use my time, because I think that most days, I flounder about wasting time here, focusing too much on cleaning there…and not enough time just being WITH my kids. And I don’t mean just physically with them, am I really present. Am I taking seriously the charge to seek after the things that matter to God. Or, am I too busy with my own to-do list.
A friend of mine recently had to write her brother’s obituary. He was my age. And it made me think if I would feel fulfilled when my mortal life comes to its end. Would I feel as if I had worked off the right list. Would I have more hours logged on Facebook than hours spent reading to my children. Will I have helped someone else feel better, rather than helped myself to more dessert. I very much want the things that I choose to spend my time on, reflect who I want to become, or rather, who HE wants me to become.
What if you learned that you suddenly only had today to live. Or that someone you loved only had today. How would you choose differently? What would be on your list?
I think I would have “watch the sunrise” at the top, then “pray”. I would make a point to look into my kids eyes when they speak, not just nod while looking at my phone. I would go for a walk and feel grateful for a healthy body, and a beautiful world to enjoy it with. I would look for opportunities to help others instead of judge them. I would be more forgiving of myself. Well, then why don’t I? Why don’t I make lists of ways to be, not things to do.
Maybe my “vision board” should have words like, “gracious”, “prayerful”, “kind”, “patient”. Isn’t that the whole point? We are here on earth to “become” something more, not to acquire more somethings. After all, when the sun sets on our lives, will others applaud us for having many shares, or for having shared, with many? I hope it’s the latter..
So for now, I take a break from the everyday to-do list, and make lists that help me remember that it is who I am becoming that is more important, rather than the never ending check boxes of tasks that leave very little mark on our world or on the hearts of those around us.
Some ideas are…
The things you love about your spouse
The things you are grateful for
The things you want your children most to know
The things you remember about someone you’ve lost
The people who have touched your life
The qualities you most admire and want to develop