Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Don't Do List

Shauna Niequist is one of my favorite authors. I’ve seen her speak/read from her book Cold Tangerines twice. When she reads, all I can think is that I want her to read to me every night before I fell asleep. I find her language to be rich and utterly captivating. I love being a part of her audience. About a year ago I attended a retreat where she was the speaker.
The retreat lived up to its name, “Breathe”, in the sense that it gave me a chance to catch my breath and reflect on my role as a mom. Like the phrase “You can’t see the forest through the trees.” I realized that I can’t see my mothering through the moments. You begin your journey as a mother with a set of values, dreams, and ideas. A clear and ideal definition of what it means to be a mom. The mothering marathon picks up its pace and you seem to lose sight of that definition as you get swept up in the race. It’s those rest stop moments when we can see if we are on the right path. I realized that it’s time for me to update my definition. It’s time for me to pick up a few of the values, dreams, and ideas that I have dropped.
Shauna confessed during the retreat that she is a list maker…another reason for me to lover her. I too keep lists. I have to-do lists, a words I hate list, lists of things my kids have said, a good vacation idea list, a recipes to try list, a books to read list, and of course I need to add my grocery list among the list of lists. While encouraging us to pick up the pieces of what we may have dropped during the day to day of mothering, Shauna challenged the group of moms to make a list of “I don’ts”. My energy level picked right up. It was like someone had revealed something scandalous…a list of I don’ts! What a freeing concept. Don’t we all keep adding to the definition of what it means to be a mother, sister, friend, and wife without taking something away? It seems logical looking at it now that I’ve caught my breath. I can’t keep this pace up if I keep adding to my load without setting something else down.
Now, I pass the challenge on to you. Take a breather to reflect on your journey. Are you on the path you signed up for? Is it time to adjust your route? What have you dropped along the way and what do you need to let go of in order to make room? What social pressures do you need to free yourself from? What pieces of you did you lose when you became a mother? The beauty in making the I don’t list is that you free yourself from obligation. You recommit to not doing so that you can do what you truly desire. So here is the start of my I don’t list. I made it so that I can keep my lungs and life full…full not busy. I made it to give myself permission to not do. It’s not that I don’t find value in these things. I just can’t do everything and find time to do what I want.

Jennifer’s List of I Don’ts:
1. I don’t scrapbook.
2. I don’t run, jog, or move above the pace of a brisk walk.
3. I don’t sew.
4. I don’t wash my own car…that’s why they invented car washes.
5. I don’t make my bed regularly. Shhh…don’t tell my mom.
6. I don’t keep my fingers manicured.
7. I don’t get up before my kids do.
8. I don’t cut coupons.
9. I don’t pick up the basement toys. What is the point? They will just destroy it tomorrow.
10. I don’t wash the windows.
11. I don’t play Bunko.
12. I don’t belong to a book club.
13. I don’t twitter or my space.
14. I don’t write encouragement or get well notes. I think them, but I don’t write them

Feel free to add ideas to my list...I'm always looking to do less!


Parenting in blue jeans said...

So, obviously I am no pro blogger and who knows if antone reads what I write but I would like ti to say "Posted by Parenting in blue jeans" and not "parening"! Aurgghh!

Parenting in blue jeans said...

ahh, i found it and i fexed it....times still wrong.

Laurie said...

First of all, love reading your blog Jen. Secondly, change the font color immediately. I feel like an old lady trying to read that small green writing. :)

I love your "not to do" list.

I do not shave my legs every day in the winter.
I do not take my sunglasses off while sunbathing anymore. (Too bright + not wanting wrinkles = shades on!)
I don't buy cookie dough - homemade or bust.
I don't bathe my kids near as much as they should be ... or vacuum very often ... or change our bed sheets enough.

Man, this was like true confessions. :)

Parenting in blue jeans said...

okay, Laurie....I changed it to ...hot pink but I don't think it's much better. Any suggestion for color...maybe white.

Marci Goodwin said...

I would write a to-don't list, but yours it pretty much just like mine would be!! Scary... However, I have to get up before my kids (at least my son), or they might take over!! And, I was forced to clean my windows last week so I could actually see my kids playing in the backyard.

mother Judi said...

I saw that !!! (the don't make your bed thing :)
You go girl !!!!!

Love ya, even if you chose not to make your bed, and you forgot to put down that you don't always return phone calls :)

Unknown said...

Jen, I really want to see your "words I hate" list! Loved this post, it was brilliant!

Parenting in blue jeans said...

I'm on tthat Emily! To give you a preview, it includes the words: slacks, moist, across (b/c everyone mispronounces it), craft, and it goes on and on!

And my mom is right. I'm awful about returning phone calls!

Kristin @ Yellow Bliss Road said...

Love your To-Don't list! I don't have to write my own - you wrote it for me!!!