Mom’s Voice: What’s On Your List?

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ListographyA package arrived for our daughter Janey from Cousin Hallie in Ohio. Inside was a journal. In capital letters across the cover, the word “Listography.” On the back a description states, “The ultimate fill-in-journal for every list you’ll ever need.”

Ugh, lists.

I am very familiar with lists. Mine are almost always of the To-Do variety. Lists are the bumpers to my alleys. I may not hit a strike every day, but when I write things down, I lose fewer balls to the gutter.

Lists keep me in check: Make a dentist appointment, return the pants that are the wrong size, write a check for the teacher gift, buy brown sugar, sign up for swim team, go to the bank, get an oil change, answer emails.

Lists expand fast even though the object of lists is to shrink them. A cruel oxymoron on page 35 of the Motherhood contract.

The school nurse calls, I drop everything and pick up the kid with the tummy ache. Our dryer breaks – the laundry piles up.  Not only do I have to stop working on chipping away at the list, it just grows: make chicken soup, get dryer fixed. And so it goes.

I indulged my curiosity and opened the book. “Listorgraphy” grabbed me. It was nothing less than love at first sight.

My To Do lists aren’t flowery or juicy. They are surely not sentimental. As I turned the pages of “Listography” I read the topics aloud: “Fun Things You’ve Done in Your Town,” “Your Guilty Pleasures,” “Your Biggest Fears,” “Favorite Toys as a Child,” “Things You Wish You Had a Second Chance to Do.”

It was as if all the list making I’ve been doing for years was just a dress rehearsal for this moment.

Perfect for the reluctant journal keeper, as much as the prolific writer; actually, perfect for anyone with a pulse. These are lists made better by adding to them and they have a zero “have to” factor.

As I read more pages, my synapses fired, my chest swelled. Memories, opinions and emotions swirled and twirled. Janey, as a gesture of kindness, or as a way to shut me up, said, “Mom, you can have it” 

“No, I will get my own” I told her.

Part of the allure is the rebellious nature of the list making. Rather than the rush to get rid of everything, cross things off, this is a leisurely and pleasurable activity. The longer we make the lists, the more fun. All told, it’s a quick and easy way to jog your memory. An entertaining way to tally, in no particular order, things such as “The Best Days of Your Life.”

I decided I wanted to become a skilled Listographer.

If you ever hear me say “you’re on my list,” don’t assume that’s a bad thing.

Jill Fales is the mother of four and author of “My Laundry Museum & Other Messy Gifts of Motherhood. She can be reached at [email protected].


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