Tap­ing our lists to­gether

Maryland Independent - - Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

My fam­ily has fi­nally found a kin­dred spirit.

I grew up with a re­spon­si­ble, happy, list-mak­ing mother — one who could make a pro­fes­sional or­ga­nizer look di­sheveled. In a pre-smart­phone world, Mom had a PalmPilot be­fore even PalmPilots were a thing. She used it to store our fam­ily se­crets (and, you know, med­i­cal his­tory). You could prob­a­bly ask Mom what she was do­ing on Oct. 12, 1999, and she’d have a cal­en­dar en­try still cached.

My sis­ter and I fol­lowed in her re­spon­si­ble foot­steps. I start- ed keep­ing a pa­per plan­ner in high school and still have my cal­en­dars — like jour­nals, re­ally — that I kept up un­til fin­ish­ing col­lege. The end of for­mal school­ing meant I was free from the press­ing need to track my time, dead­lines and pro­duc­tiv­ity. When I could fi­nally put down the plan­ner, I felt free.

But that was short-lived — and shortly re­placed by Google Cal- en­dar, which I now keep metic­u­lously up­dated. When I got my first smart­phone, the world of dig­i­tal cal­en­dar-keep­ing opened up to me. I’ve never looked back.

Now, of course, I’m also run­ning John­son, Inc.: keep­ing track of my hus­band’s ap­point- ments, my bi­weekly preg­nancy check-ups, Oliver’s fol­low-ups and our fam­ily com­mit­ments — not to men­tion all the work-re­lat- ed tasks co­or­di­nated along­side the per­sonal stuff.

It seems stress­ful, but don’t let me mis­lead you: I live for lo­gis- tics. It’s an ob­ses­sion, re­ally. If my sis­ter wants to hitch a ride with us to a friend’s get-to­gether, I love ar­rang­ing the pick-up de- tails so she can then ride home with her hus­band, who is join­ing us later, and not need a sec­ond car. Hav­ing two func­tions in one day is no prob­lem; which starts ear­lier, and how long will we rea- son­ably spend at each? What’s the eas­i­est, quick­est way to get from point A to point B?

With tod­dlers, you have to start early.

The days of grab­bing my purse, stuff­ing my feet into flipflops and rolling out the door ended, oh . . . two years ago. Get­ting Oliver fed, changed and dressed is a project unto it­self — and if we’re head­ing some­where on a longer drive with plans to be out for the day, I have to prep the di­a­per bag with nec­es­sary sup­plies to get us through a busy af­ter­noon. And putting on a kid’s socks and shoes? Well.

Start­ing a half hour be­fore we ac­tu­ally want to be on the road is a good barom­e­ter — and even then, I of­ten find my­self scram­bling last-minute to get every­one ready to walk out the door. With an­other baby on the way, I’m sure the chaos will only mag­nify.

I’m only par­tially ready for that.

In a world com­prised of both plan­ners and non-plan­ners, I’d long ago as­sumed that my fam­ily fell squarely into the ob­ses­sive plan­ning cat­e­gory — a te­dious group who like ev­ery­thing to be neat, or­derly and color-coded. Friends over the years cer­tainly didn’t seem wor­ried about plan­ning things far in ad­vance. I re­ceive plenty of last-minute in­vites, and their turn-out is al­ways fine.

But you know what? Plan­ners get things done. Last Fri­day was a per­fect ex­am­ple of that. With my baby shower com­plete, we’ve turned to co­or­di­nat­ing my sis­ter’s Fe­bru­ary soiree. Her lit­tle girl is due in May, just six weeks af­ter mine, and we’ve been talk­ing about th­ese par­ties since last fall.

Katie’s good friend, Michelle, was brought into the fold. When I was pan­ick­ing at the thought of wel­com­ing 50 women into my toy-strewn house at eight months preg­nant, Michelle kindly of­fered her home as our venue. We went for a visit last month and started to talk lo­gis­tics, but that was tricky with kid­dos run­ning around. We needed a girls’ night to fo­cus.

Fri­day was that night. In the side cor­ner of a cafe, we talked for three hours — three hours — about the de­tails of Katie’s shower. Food, fa­vors, decor, games, bev­er­ages . . . all the way down to where we’d stash folks’ win­ter coats dur­ing the party.

I wor­ried, as I al­ways do, that we would scare Michelle with our lists and high­lighters, PostIts and spread­sheets. My mom came pre­pared with sta­pled print-outs and ques­tions. I had my lap­top, and my sis­ter had her trusty clip­board — com- plete with the check­lists she brings ever ywhere.

But Michelle? Michelle was into this.

The lo­gis­tics didn’t scare her. As the hours ticked by, her eyes didn’t glaze over; she of­fered ex­cel­lent ideas, vol­un­teered to tackle many tasks and, most im­por­tantly, didn’t run scream- ing into the park­ing lot. At one point, Michelle even drew a di­a­gram, sketch­ing her liv­ing room fur­ni­ture along with ideas for ta­ble and chair place­ment. When she ran out of space on one page, she grabbed an­other to cre­ate a panorama.

“You prob­a­bly wish you had tape!” Mom joked.

Michelle looked up. “I do,” she said, nod­ding se­ri­ously. And I looked in my purse, con­vinced I had some. (I didn’t. Though I did have tweez­ers, rub­ber bands and five kinds of lip balm.)

Rather than frighten her off with our pre­pared­ness, Michelle was a kin­dred spirit — a list-maker ready to get stuff done.

I typ­i­cally view “group ef­forts” like dreaded school projects, where one per­son re­al­is­ti­cally does all the work and the rest show up on pre­sen­ta­tion day. But with four go-get­ters? “Pre­sen­ta­tion day” will be awe­some.

And I to­tally carry tape now. You know: just in case.

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