Madhu Bazaz Wangu | To Do List
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To Do List

To Do List

            It was the Monday after the Fourth of July. Our daughter and her husband entered our front door, hugged their eight-month old baby Ariana and kissed their son Mokhta, now five-years old.

“Did the “To Do List” help, Mommy?” she asked me in the kitchen where I was brewing Darjeeling tea for them. They had returned from a three-night break at Nemacolin Resort to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary. Before she left, she had placed a piece of paper on the refrigerator that read:

“Ariyana’s To Do List”

7:00                                             Wake Up and 4oz. milk

~10:00                    One-hour nap

11:30                                             5-6 oz. milk

1:00                                             Baby food and cereal

~2:00                      1-2 hours nap

5:00                                             5-6 oz. milk

6:30                                             Baby Food, cereal, Fruit, Vitamin D

8:30                                             4-5 oz. mil

9:00                                             Sleep

“It certainly did,” I said handing over cups of tea to her and our son-in-law. The List had helped me keep track of our granddaughter’s eating and sleeping schedule.

Later that afternoon they and the little ones, whose kisses I want to take in dessertspoon morsels, drove back, to their home in Virginia.

Soon, it was late August the List was still stuck to the fridge door. I did not have the heart to throw away that piece of paper. I knew I was being sentimental, rather silly. Each time I took it out from behind the Mickey Mouse magnet my heart negated my gesture with a big, “No, not yet!”

At breakfast I would go to the fridge, glance at the List before taking out milk or bread or whatever. That glance triggered Ariana’s face, as tender as rose petals melting my heart and Mokhta’s smile, brightening my face and the kitchen.  But those two were not the only reason I wanted to keep that piece of paper. My grandchildren’s faces stirred memories of my daughters

When they were Mokhta’s age we used to read, Frog and Toad Together (1971) by Arnold Lobel. In the story, “A List” Toad says to his friend Frog, “I have things to do. I’ll make a list.” So he writes on a piece of paper: “A list of things to do.” He writes what he has to do from “Wake Up” time to “Go to Sleep” time and his whole day is listed. From sunrise to sunset, as the day passes he does the chores and one by one crosses them out. My daughters loved to read that story and so did I.  

As a busy Mom, I had a million things to do. A thing as simple as making a list helped me organize my day. The task of list making was accompanied by a warm feeling of bonding between my daughters and me. Making a list of things on a hectic day and crossing them out when the tasks were accomplished was one of the most gratifying tasks of the day.

So the list that my daughter had made for her daughter not only helped me with the baby’s timetable but also reminded me of the pleasurable time reading my daughters bedtime stories and instilling a good habit.

On the last Sunday of August, our daughter called,

“Mom, Mokhta can read Frog and Toad stories by himself!” The news pleased me. “Remember how I hated making lists?”

“Yes!” I remembered that quite well.

“But I must admit, Mommy, making these lists now has made my life so much easier!”

 After she hung up I began to think, why do we get sentimentally attached to stuff, in this case a piece of paper? I began to find reasons behind my attachment to a flimsy thing. Why was it so difficult for me to part with it?   I realized because it was charged with two generations worth of emotions and memories. It stirred sentiments that caught me unaware. I let the warm feeling settle in my heart. I was able to trash the paper.

The memories now lay safe within for me to mull over when I miss the children.  

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