Living in Minutiae Land

Yesterday, after I got the kids off to school, I was about to tackle my to-do list when it occurred to me that I had no idea what day of the month it was.

Okay, I knew it was late January, like somewhere around the 20th or 25th. But my brain legitimately froze up when I tried to pinpoint the exact date. I did some mental backtracking, trying to recall a recent date of significance, so I could work forward from that. Nothing. My mind was officially a swirling sea of mush.

It seems I’m constantly thinking in social media terms – not always a good thing – and at that moment an Instagram-worthy thought popped into my head:

“This is motherhood. You can recite your kids’ favorite breakfast foods, snacks, and television shows forwards and backwards. You know precisely how child A likes her hair done and that child B is prone to stunning meltdowns if her sweater happens to bunch up under her winter coat. You have the family schedule seamlessly coordinated, all the puzzle pieces fitting neatly together, from extracurricular routines to playdates and social commitments. You know exactly which day the library books need to go back, and when the fish tank needs cleaning. But you have no friggin’ idea what day of the month it is.”

Recently, I read an article that describes this experience so well. Author Mary Katherine writes, “The truth is, like most mothers in this world, my brain is always spinning. Always.” Katherine talks about this “invisible checklist inside our brain,” and I know exactly what she means. It’s a constantly evolving collection of tasks, none of them particularly earth-shattering. Like “clean the guinea pigs’ cage” and “buy bananas” and “register kids for summer camp.”

I’m not saying that being on top of the details is a bad thing. After all, fish tanks do need to get cleaned eventually and kids need to get to swim lessons. But I do want to recognize that my tendency to live in a world of minutiae and get immersed in lots of little things means I often lose sight of the big picture, and where I’m going on this path. I know I’m best at working with the details, so maybe this is okay for now.

As long as I keep a calendar on me at all times.

What drives you in your daily routines? Are you a fan of the details, or do you focus on the big picture?

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