“Children are cuddly to hold, and painful to let go.” – Arthur Tugman
Someday you will really, really love making to-do lists. I know this sounds crazy to you right now; your mom always had piles of to-do lists so you equate them with oppression and anal retention. As it turns out she was totally on to something.
You get into to-do lists for two reasons:
- Life gets so crazy that if you didn’t write down the things you needed to do, very little would get done. You only have to miss so many dentist appointments and eat dry cereal because you forgot the milk a certain number of times to learn how helpful they can be. Plus as your brain gets older you just can’t remember everything. There are way too many distractions. It’s like trying to count to 100 while someone is singing the Barney song in one ear and the ABC’s in the other. Actually, that literally happens quite a bit.
- Crossing an accomplished task off of your list is a beautiful feeling – right up there with knuckle cracking and that first bite of a really good desert after a tough day. Seriously. It’s practically a religious experience. Which is why you will find yourself writing things on your list that you’ve already done just for the rush of crossing it off.
But eventually you will come to a set of tasks that are not gratifying to cross off; you will grieve the accomplishment; that there isn’t more to do.
Yesterday I crossed the last item off of my “get Johnathan registered for college” list and in that moment, the fact that my baby boy is leaving us became real. I swear I actually heard a thud in my heart that is still painfully echoing through my chest.
It was probably because of the last thing that was on that list: picking his roommate. Suddenly this stranger wasn’t’ a fictional, faceless character out there somewhere; he turned into a real, flesh and blood, three dimensional person: Matt. Matt has a personality. He is neat, likes country music and plans to study 7 – 9 hours a week. He has a hometown, parents, and a microwave that he plans to bring up.
The reality of Matt somehow made the reality of Johnathan’s exit from the nest much more real. I don’t like Matt. Johnathan can’t share his care package cookies with Matt. Matt may not put anything in my son’s little fridge.
But wait! That reminds me: we still have loads of shopping to do: that little fridge! A laptop! Socks!
Oh! And then there’s the graduation party! We have to figure out invitations, decorations, food.
This is great! I need to make a list so I don’t forget anything. I now have too much on my plate to sit in my grief.
Yup. Someday you’re really going to love your to-do list.