A long time ago, before I was diagnosed with ADHD, I realized that writing things down was the best way to remember them ... as long as you could remember to bring the list with you when you needed it.
Years later, a psychologist explained to me that by checking things off a list, I was giving myself affirmation — a feeling of accomplishment — and that everyone could put their things into a better perspective by seeing them listed in black and white. For me though, whether or not it’s a good idea isn’t a factor.
It’s that I HAVE to have one ... for everything. I have a list of chores that need addressed. I have a list of things we need from the store. I have a list of home improvements that need tended to (a LONG one). I have a list of who’s birthday and anniversary is when. I have a list of things each child needs.
I have a list of books I want to read, and a list of pen names my favorite authors have published by. I have a list of books I have already collected and another list that notes which ones I have yet to acquire. I have a list of things I need to make time for, and a list of things I’d like to do. I have a list of the most efficient exercises (in my opinion) and a list of the exercise DVDs and VHS tapes that I own with dust on them.
It’s March and I literally have my children’s wish lists for potential gifts they would like to receive fro birthdays in July and October and I even have a list (that I posted on the wall of my husband’s home office) that explains the acceptable gifts and/or actions for each gift-exchanging holiday. Yes, extremely militant, anal, rude, selfish, what-have-you. But then again, I DID get a set of cheap sheets for my 15th anniversary. What says “I love you” or “thanks for bearing my children, folding my clothes and giving me 15 years of devotion” more? I simply spelled it out for him as an act of mercy and to strengthen our relationship. Our marriage will last forever as long as I don’t open a vacuum cleaner for my birthday, a blender for Christmas, and unless for some reason the world no longer produces fabric of any kind, getting linens for any holiday, aside from a rare silk from a foreign country, or something woven from an extinct animal’s tresses and sewn by thread made from a rare spider ... he knows full-well it is just not a good idea.
I have a list of things I’d like to do before I die. I have a list of names of doctors and hospitals we have used over the years. I have a list of phone numbers I need. I make lists on paper and have tapped a lists into my phone.
I only realized recently that it isn’t my own fantastic idea to reach my goals, or keep track of things with lists — it’s my mother’s. She has lists that I apparently inadvertently mimicked and then got into the habit of making, though hers could fill a large plastic tub. She literally began the method to my madness. The problem with her lists is that she has at least two of the same. On the dining table alone she has two grocery lists, with some duplicate items, and that’s on any given day. She also has a list to decorate most of her pieces of furniture. She has a list on her dresser, a list on her nightstand, and a list on her television. And don’t even ask how many she has in her purse. When my mother realized she had a “problem with lists” she brought it up to me and I thanked her for the genetic dysfunction — which might’ve been funny had she not explained that when she mentioned it to HER mother, she remembered that she was family-famous for the making of lists. When Gran could see well enough to write, she had a list of medications she took and a list that my grandfather took. She had a list for doctors and a list of contacts for businesses she frequented and the hours they were open.
My grandmother, the unintended family matriarch of list-making, even had The Master List. She had a list of names in a book that included their telephone numbers and addresses, how they were associated, and it also listed their family members, their birthdays and anniversaries. She had a list at her business of people that didn’t pay their bills. She had lists for each of her regular customers’ — a list for what they needed to order and a list of what they had purchased. And while neither my mother or grandmother have any diagnosed brain dysfunctions and there is no genetically-explainable reason for passing on list-making, their habits are undoubtedly impressionable and assuredly addictive.
My female predecessors do not feel any guilt for the legacy they have passed on. I however felt more guilty than when I got busted stealing my favorites from my child’s hard-earned Halloween stash, when my youngest daughter first stomped her teenaged foot on the way out the door and complained, “Oh man! I forgot my list!”