If You Give a Girl a Checklist

July 13, 2012

In the early weeks of summer, I found myself fantasizing about all the things I would accomplish in the extra hours these longer days have to offer. 

Like a child, I set a mighty weight upon the season’s shoulders, expecting it to hold more promise than its mere two-month cycle could possibly contain. But unlike the learn-to-do-flips-against-the-wall sort of goals of my children, my July-August expectations tend to be of the fix-it-sort-it-organize-it ilk. 

Hey, a girl’s entitled to dream…

My bubble burst quickly, though, and I have been forced to accept the harsh fact that a summer day is still a mere twenty-four hour period, just like its fall-winter-spring cousins. I hardly manage to squeeze in my regular work and family obligations, let alone painting the den and rearranging the book shelves. 

Despite my best intentions, little distractions that devour time by the mouthful have been popping up all over the place. 

For example:

While writing an article, I stumbled upon the word lammergeyer in the dictionary. Eurasian vultures, in case you’re wondering. My eyes continued to play pinball on the page until I happened upon the only slightly more useful lambrequin, which I learned is a sort of valance. What I got out of that little exercise was writer’s block.

I closed the computer and popped outside for a breath of humid air to clear my mind. Scanning the yard, I realized that the pine trees were shedding needles in the brutal heat. I decided to water them, but the hose, I quickly discovered, had a leak and I had to table that plan. 
On the way back to the house, I checked out the side garden and noticed that the deer had decimated the flora. Determined to put an end to the all-you-can-eat breakfast, I grabbed a shovel and my gardening gloves from the garage, and set out to conquer the hostas. Once they were gone, I could see that the prairie grass had taken over. I pulled that up, too. 

With piles of discarded greenery to gather, I left to fetch garbage bags from the basement. Since the load in the washing machine had finished while I’d lingered outdoors, I scrubbed the dirt from my nails and opened the dryer, which I found full of towels. I folded them and put the wet wash in to dry before grabbing the bags to clean up the mess I’d made in the garden.

Before heading upstairs, I selected a few items from the pantry from which I planned to concoct a reasonable dinner. While dropping them on the kitchen counter, I smelled something funny. My investigation revealed a wet rag of vague provenance among the potatoes in the wicker basket on the floor. In a house of boys, that alone wasn’t enough to raise an eyebrow, but it did require me to empty the basket and sort the tubers, leaving a trail of potato dirt on the kitchen floor.

I swept, of course, and decided to wash the floor, too. I went back to the laundry room to rinse out the mop and empty the bucket in the slop sink, but in the process, managed to soak myself with dirty floor-potato mud water. I tossed my filthy clothes into the washing machine and ran upstairs to get dressed again.

En route, I broke my Golden Rule: Never look in the boys’ rooms while trying to accomplish something else. 

There was a silver lining to my misstep, however. I managed to solve the mystery of my missing coffee mugs. After making their beds, sorting their laundry, and discarding a trail of snack wrappers (no, I don’t let them eat in their rooms), I looked up and noticed how nice the place would look if I just added a lambrequin above their windows.

Before I knew it, it was almost time to pick everyone up from camp. The day had come and gone. I looked over my checklist – twice! – but there was nothing I could cross off. Not one item. I’d accomplished nothing.

I sat down on the edge of the bed and took a few deep breaths, grateful that at least my distracted dictionary trolling hadn’t been entirely for naught. While gazing out the window, I could have sworn I saw the afternoon breeze carry my ambitious agenda off into the distance.

So I made myself a cup of iced coffee and tried to come to terms with this Summer of Distraction. After all, I may as well find some way to use those extra hours of daylight.