I’m a list maker.
I think it started sometime between my late teens and early twenties. For many years, it was just a way to get all the jumble out of my head. The need increased during the pregnancy of our second child when I began to suffer from serious “pregnancy brain.” (Incidentally, I also turned 30 at that time, so I’m not sure which was to blame.) It never went away, and the dependency on my lists increased exponentially after the birth of our third child.
When our little Hope was born, life changed.
Yeah, I know, “Every child changes your life,”…but no, life REALLY changed!
The short story is that Hope spent most of her first 2.5 months in the hospital and came out with a laundry list of diagnoses (several of which she has overcome or have been healed). She has Spina Bifida and was born prematurely due to distress caused by a hypercoiled umbilical cord. She has a shunt, a trach, and a feeding tube. She’s had 6 surgeries total. We have in-home nursing care most days and therapy 5 days a week. She will be 1 year old next month, and she is a miracle baby!
Now you know what I mean when I say, “Life changed.”
Needless to say, lists are my lifeline. My forgetfulness has quadrupled. Though we’ve settled into a nice routine, I still spend much time running from one task to another, half the time forgetting what I was doing.
I depend on my lists to keep up with things. If it were not for my lists (and my best friend – the sticky note!), bills would go unpaid, errands would go unaccomplished, phone calls would not be made. You get the idea.
However, I realized there is something else my lists have been doing to me. They judge me. See, I have a habit of making lists of EVERYTHING I need to do (ie. clean the kitchen, vacuum, clean the bathroom, etc.). The fact is, I end most days with nothing more than a list of everything I DIDN’T do. It’s not very encouraging. I spend so much time focused on what I’m not accomplishing.
So in the midst of my stress one day last week, I heard that still, small voice say, “Let go of the list.”
Yes, let go of the list.
This is our life now. No one else expects me to be and do everything. Why do I continuously expect it of myself? When I do this, when you do it, we miss so much of what God really has for us. Time with Him. Time with our children. Time with our spouse. Time with ourselves.
Then I had a further realization tonight, that our lives with our children are full of lists too, and we waste our time trying to check them off.
If I’ve learned anything from my little girl, it’s that you’ve got to let go of the list. That list of developmental milestones children are supposed to accomplish? Well, she’s almost 1 and she’s not even sitting up yet, but if you compare where she is now to where she was 8 months ago, she’s making huge progress. I don’t even look at that list anymore because I realize that progress is what’s important, not the checklist.
I spent much of my first two daughters’ babyhood waiting for them to get to the next stage or milestone. A check on the list. I missed out on enjoying where they were. Hope is teaching me to not only celebrate the milestones, but enjoy the moments.
I’ve had to let go of a lot of things this last year. Homeschool plans had to be adjusted. The house isn’t clean most of the time. The laundry piles up. Beds go unmade.
Sometimes life happens – mama has a rough pregnancy, a family member gets seriously ill, a special needs child is born, or the family is just having a tough season – and we have to let things go.
Lists are helpful and they have a place, but don’t let them rule your life.
Let go of that list, harried mama! Whatever list it is.
If you’re the busy mama with the list of chores and school work to accomplish, let it go. It’s okay to spend a day just enjoying your kids.
Or if you’re the mama of that precious special needs child with a list of milestones to accomplish, let it go. It’s okay to enjoy having a baby just a little longer than everyone else.
Let it go.
Donna is a former high school teacher turned homeschooler and homemaker. She is passionately in love with her Superman husband of 5 years – Matthew – and 3 delightful daughters – Grace (4), Joy (2) and Hope (almost 1). She has a passion for the written word and a calling to teach biblical womanhood. When she’s not caring for their youngest blessing – a miraculous, medically complex child with Spina Bifida – she can usually be found snuggling, cleaning spills, kissing owies, learning to cook “real foods,” or lost in a pile of laundry and dishes. Follow her journey at FullyMothering.com.