January 24, 2017: Throw Away the List

Buffalo Wild Wings family feast
My mom has taught me many great lessons. One that has come up continuously while going through the motions of the daily hamster wheel is to #1) Throw away the list. And then next in quick order, #2) Completely forget about the list.

A real-life lesson from my mom happened about twelve years ago. It revolved around a trip with me out of town and my mom babysitting the boys. Back when the boys were young, it was common for Mom and Dad to fly to Omaha and tend to the house while we were away.

Homemade jammie pants on 2 boys and genuine smiles on all
Forever tied to a calendar, I would carefully map out the boys' schedules prior to our departure. Although I don't remember the exact calendar listings during that particular trip, likely it involved baseball practice, piano, and art lessons, to name a few. I might even have penciled in play dates to ensure there were no open spaces on the calendar <gasp>.

After mapping out my detailed instructions and leaving the boys in the caring and responsible arms of my mom, I flew the coup. Surely my itemized list of activities with addresses and emergency phone numbers would be cake for an old pro like my mom to handle.

I was correct.

But not in the way as intended.

Arriving home days later to open arms and with needless gifts in hand (Lesson #3 - don't buy useless toys. You will throw them away later!), I was eager to hear how my mom made out with the schedule and the boys. Unfortunately, my brain prioritized them in this order as well.

"Did you find everything okay? Any issues? Were they on time to their activities?" were my top-of-order questions.

Mom didn't flinch in her response.

"I threw the list away."

No words left my mouth as I looked at her, puzzled at what that statement could possibly mean.
Gramma teaching Grant how to sew

"I really threw it away. Sandy, I have never seen so many things planned for kids. Seemed silly to me, so I asked them. They all three agreed that they really didn't want to go to all that stuff anyway. So we threw it away."

With me in shock and the boys in a state of immense enthusiasm, they began to tell me of all the things they did over those few days their parents were gone. No worries on baseball practice, because they played in the backyard. And no worries on art because Grandma got out the paint set.

There was a lot of sleeping and playing in the basement. But there were also jammie pants made after sewing machine lessons were given. The house was not neat, but among the empty paint canisters sprawled across the kitchen table, there were hand-painted glasses with a matching pitcher. Each boy initialed his own design to mark his handiwork.

And then I smiled. Mom just schooled me as well. Who needs a list? A life unscripted is many times the best kind of life.

This last Sunday we followed Mom's advice and it was glorious.

Driving to church, Garrett and I were in the front. Grant was in the back.

Grant: "Mom, I'm really hungry for B-Dubs. We should drive to Lincoln and eat with Ben after church."

(note that a list a mile long of work, home, and personal projects are lingering in every recess of my brain)

<silent pause>

Garrett, who knows me better than anyone on this earth, looked at me and smiled.

Garrett: "You're  going to do it, aren't you?"

Me: "Yeah, I think we will."

So that's what we did. Dropping Garrett off at the airport after mass, Grant and I proceeded straight to Lincoln. Picking up Ben and watching the start of the Green Bay/Atlanta game, we had a great discussion on our varying political views. I learned a few new things about my near-adult sons and their opinions on the world today. A great reminder in these turbulent times that having opposing views is okay. Seek not to convert, but to understand a varying point of view.

Grant and I were on a roll. Next, we booked a last minute trip for Grant to visit his oldest brother in Colorado the following weekend. A visit to his grandparents in Bellevue in their new home followed and then the enjoyment of a Sunday sunset on our way back to West Omaha.

Next when Grant chose to follow his necessary list of homework, I chose to go to a random movie. By myself. I predicted that this off-market movie would gain Oscar nods, which later proved correct. I love a good movie. A great way to cap the day.

By 10:00 p.m., I was cozily tucked into my warm bed, realizing that I hadn't touched my computer all day. I can't remember the last time I went technology-free for almost an entire weekend. No lists. No pressure. And a completely fulfilling day full of life.

Although the boys have long outgrown their jammie pants and only one glass remains unbroken from the original set of four (the pitcher hasn't survived either), memories last a lifetime. As do life lessons.

When stressed over a full calendar or the length of the list, I always remember that 'throwing the damn thing away' is a viable option.

My mom said so.

The last glass 'standing'. Initials as CHL? Bets are on Ben making up an artist name.




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