The List

This is the encouragement/lie that I tell myself daily:

Things will calm down if I can just get through ______.

Many years ago I filled in the blank with sleepless nights and potty training.
Sometimes it’s a short term obstacle like posting grades or I Love Math Day.
Other times I’m just trying to survive a holiday season or a tough school year.

These days that blank is always filled with “grad school”.

I’ve been in school for four straight years y’all.  First it was a self-paced program at WGU.  Next I spent a year at Virginia Tech in a program that I ended up realizing was a good stepping stone, but ultimately not the right fit.  These past two years I’ve been working through a program at VCU that I absolutely love, but I’m weary.  So weary.

I love the learning and the challenge.  I’m inspired by my classmates and professors, and have even come to not hate the writing.  But the hard part is this:  the never ending feeling that any break, no matter how short, comes at a cost.  There IS NOT enough time to fulfill every responsibility that weighs on me as a teacher, a mom, a student, a wife, and a friend.  So if I do choose to take a break, that time has to come from somewhere.  I find myself in a disappointing state of never fulfilling any of my roles as well as I would like to.

There are many things I try to tell myself to make it through:

Your kids are learning from watching you set a goal and meet it.

This is the next necessary step towards what you’ve been called to do.

It’s supposed to be hard.

Be thankful for this opportunity and the crazy amount of support you get that so many others don’t have.

Things will calm down if I can just get through August.

But the one thing that is truly keeping me going these days is The List.  For months now I’ve been drafting this unwritten list of things I’m going to do with my free time* when I’m done.  So this morning when reviewing The List on my open loop, as my pastor calls it, I decided it was time to write it down.

Here’s The List in no particular order:

Lose 20 pounds
Run the Holliday Lake 50K
Run faster
Figure out and fix this nagging problem with my right hip
Read the books I bought last summer but never started
Read the book I asked for for Christmas
Read every book on the Newbery Medal list
Fix up my side of the basement into a space I actually want to use
Try at least once to fold my T-shirt drawer Marie Kondo style.  (Anyone who knows me knows it won’t stay that way.)
Blog regularly again
Have friends over for dinner
Start teaching 2 year old Sunday School again
Talk to Jesus more
Start something like Math on a Stick or Math Anywhere
Buy the Carcassone Big Box and learn to play every expansion at once
Finish the hat I started crocheting two Christmases ago
Try art journaling
Get better at mountain biking and take Bubba with me
Figure out something Chica and I can enjoy together
Play disc golf and ride bikes with Jay
Cook dinners
Relearn calculus
Swim laps again

This list makes me happy and hopeful.

But I should come back to the *free time comment.  I’m trying to be realistic and know that there will still be work and new projects that come up and everyday time suckers.  “Things will calm down if I can get through August” is only partly true because there’s always something else.  However, I’m so looking forward to giving school a rest for the near future.  As my friends go on to start their doctorate studies or I stumble upon the next program that looks perfect, I hope I will reread this list and remind myself that The List is what’s next for me.

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Things I Think I Know at 32

1. More-is-better does not apply to the number of people in a hammock.

2. Humans of New York is one of the most fascinating and beautiful things the Internets have to offer these days.

3. When hosing crap off of a trampoline, there is no good place to stand. Anywhere you stand, it’s coming right back atcha. Gravity fail.

4. Tomatoes are better in the summer.

5. The best way to grow killer pumpkins involves 2 easy steps. First, kick last year’s pumpkin up under the porch. Second, just wait.

6. Bubba won’t be 14 and wearing diapers.

7. I shall never again have a flat(ter) stomach without working at it.

8. Showers at the YMCA are so much easier than baths in our own tub.

9. TV is ok.

10. So is not going into school until your contract says you have to be there.

11. Sometimes the need to go to the bathroom every 5 minutes leads to great things. Like running into a dear old friend who Jesus put there to encourage you.

12. Not every stay at home mom loves her job. (That same dear old friend told me that.)

13. Jay is way better at grocery shopping than me.

14. Uranus is halfway between the sun and Pluto. Just like your anus is halfway between your head and your feet. You’re welcome.

15. The maximum life expectancy of a plant in my house is 1 year.

16. Facebook makes birthdays better.

17. Reindeers are better than people. (Eh…never mind. I’ve never met one, so I’m not actually sure.)

18. Graham crackers make booboos feel better. Bubba just told me that. Chica bought it.

19. If Sallie Mae asks you for a date in mm/dd/yyyy format, she actually means it.

20. Chica will do nearly anything for an icee pop.

21. Moths have fuzzy antennae. Butterflies don’t.

22. More stuff does not equal more happiness. It just means more mess to clean up. Or more to sell at a yard sale later.

23. If you don’t want mosquitoes to bite you, you can just stop breathing because they are attracted to hot air. Chica told me that.

24. Steve Urkel is still funny.

25. It’s ok to wipe eye burgers on your shirt. Bubba told me that.

26. Not every kid likes toothpaste. (As always, Chica didn’t prepare me well for kid #2.)

27. When one is woken up in the middle of the night by a roundhouse kick to the head, the foot of the bed seems like a good place to (temporarily) hide from your pint-sized attacker. But don’t worry, he’ll find you there too.

28. No one needs to buy prom pictures. Especially multiple sheets of them. (What in the world were we thinking??)

29. I’m not any cooler than the mom whose kid poops in the pool. Just luckier.  Or maybe faster.

30. When your kids look at your baby pictures, the toys in the pictures are way more interesting than…well…you.

31. Coming home from a trip with a suitcase full of clean and folded clothes is one of life’s great gifts.

32. There are still a few cool people in this world that do not have a smart phone, including both myself and my delightful lunch date today.

Whadaya know friends?