In my first semester of English class an unnamed number of years ago, we had an assignment to write about "the symbol of my life". My life has changed, and so this piece of paper is my new symbol.
In case you can't tell, this is a photo of a schedule. My very own to-do list. Yes, I'm neurotic that way. I used to make to-do lists during my summer vacations. Anyway, notice where it is. That's right, the floor. It used to be posted to the fridge until my baby tore it down. Is that symbolic or what?
Now, this list has many things on it. There are weekly jobs to do divvied up on different days in addition to the daily tasks. I made my list because I cling to this vain hope that if somehow I were more organized, my house could be organized, too. The theory was that if I had a certain time to do things, I would do them at a specified time instead of running around trying to get fifteen things half-done simultaneously. The only difference it made is that now I know which tasks I'm never going to get done.
The problem with a schedule is that if I get behind on one thing, everything else gets thrown out of whack. Let's assume, for example, that the kids have been crying and whining all day long (we're really going out on a limb here) so that I have either an earache, a headache, or both, by the time day is done. At that moment, a nice cup of hot chocolate and the dishes both call out to me. Well, the dishes do, anyway--in that loud, annoying, deal-with-me-now sort of voice in my head. By then, I've had it with loud voices (you really know you're going nuts when even the voices in your head annoy you). The hot chocolate whispers in a sweet, soothing I'll-take-care-of-you sort of voice. I swipe a dish cloth over a plate a couple of times to pretend I'm going to do housework, and then me, my book, and my cuppa settle down on the couch.
It takes me at least a couple of hours to pull my shoulders down from their perpetually tense position (glued to my earlobes). Once that's done, I might go to bed or even have a conversation with my husband. (How are you? See you in the morning.) So even though my body actually shuts down at about 10, I don't get to bed until around midnight. I would really like to get up before the baby, but his wakey-wakey time inches closer to 6 a.m. every day, and even mamas need to get their sleep.
So then baby wakes up before daybreak, and Mama along with him. And what does he want to do? Sit quietly and watch Mama scrape last night's congealing macaroni from the plates? No, he wants mama juice (i.e. wants to nurse). Then he wants big boy food, and then he wants to explore the pantry, and then pull everything out of the kitchen drawers.
"Oh, yes," I think. "I was going to mop the floor and wash the car today." I can keep really good track of what I intend to do. But then I remember that that's today's list. I haven't done anything from yesterday's list, or from the day before that. Do we let the gathering dust fall off the ceiling fan until we can swim in it? Or do we neglect the charred black mess on the bottom of the oven until we start a kitchen fire? Decisions.
Then baby pulls the list from the fridge, which suggests that it might be more sensible to toss the list, since children don't believe in schedules. I suppose I could just let the list go. I could throw it away. But the garbage is overflowing almost as much as the recycling I didn't get to the curb on time this week. What day was I going to take out the garbage again? Better check my list.