The List Doesn’t Matter

Tomorrow is another day.

I really hate that quote. Of course tomorrow is another day. Just like water is wet and my Swedish heritage makes me recoil from the sun like a vampire. Tomorrow is another day, and no doubt I’ll be sitting up in bed a few hours before Tomorrow gets here, scribbling down all the things I should and need and will have to get done.

That was exactly how today began. I had my list playing on a loop in my head, constantly scolding me for every moment I dithered in front of the computer or stood in the kitchen eating Hershey’s Kisses for breakfast. I had an overflowing hamper full of dirty laundry to take care of, and chili and cornbread to make for dinner, and words to write, and emails to reply to, and that’s without even mentioning the ten thousand little, unplanned chores that three children under the age of six can – and will – create.

But before I would tackle everything on The List, I would take the kids to the playground. Just for a little while. Maybe a half an hour or so, and then I would put an end to their fun and march them back towards the car so we could all go home and irritate each other while I sorted socks and played a game of “Poop or Chocolate?” with a stain on the couch.

When we arrived at the park, the playground was off-limits. They were putting down a fresh layer of those wood chip things under all the slides and swings, and wouldn’t be finished until the end of the day. In an attempt to make the best of things, I told the kids we would take a quick walk around the park, throw some stones in the creek, and go home again. I mean, those zucchini weren’t going to chop themselves.

Two minutes of walking took us down to the creek, and I let the kids go down to the edge of the water. I chided them not to get too muddy, not to make too big a splash with the rocks they threw. I didn’t want to add “de-mud three kids” to my ever-growing list of things to do.

And then… something happened.

While I sat on the grassy bank, with blue sky and puffy white clouds over my head, and a cool breeze whipping my hair into my eyes, I realized that I didn’t care about all of those things waiting for me at home. When a couple other kids arrived with buckets and cups and nets for catching crayfish and minnows, and my daughters looked back at me with pleading eyes as those other kids waded out into the water, I smiled and gave them a quick nod.

“Put your shoes in the grass,” I said. “And don’t go out where it’s too deep.”

While my son toddled around the edge of the stream, digging in the dirt for the muddiest rocks he could find, my girls hiked up their skirts and waded out into the water, squealing at every crayfish that was found, at every little fish that darted around their ankles. We stayed there for hours, until my son fell asleep in my arms and the girls, muddy and bedraggled creatures of the water, clambered out of the creek and walked through the grass until their feet were dry again.

And now we’re home again and it’s almost evening. I haven’t done any laundry. Dinner hasn’t been made yet. No one did any schoolwork or watched anything educational. That weird stain is still unidentified. But my kids had an amazing day. I had an amazing day, too. I sat in the shade, my eyes dazzled by the reflection of the sunlight on the water as it flowed over the rocks. And they keep telling me about how much fun they had, and asking when they can do it again.

“Maybe tomorrow,” I said. Because all that laundry? I never wanted to do it anyway.


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