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Monday, 27 February 2012

Scared of passing on “list-making” to my child

I am delighted to post this marvellous guest blog from the beautiful Circus Queen.

She describes herself as "Writer, blogger, displaced Trinidadian, the creature's mother and wife of a good 'un. Blogging about the baby, boobs & 'issues' at Circus Queen."


She forgets to add that she is a bloody good mother, going above and beyond for her daughter. There is not much she has not tried and tested in her quest to be the best for Talitha.

She writes in a way which makes you feel like you are best friends with her already. Her frankness and dedication makes me want to try all the harder at this mothering-lark.

Anyway, enough from me. Here she is...

I'm an obsessive-compulsive list-maker. The notebooks in my bedside drawer are filled with lists of countries I want to visit, books I want to read, promises to myself that I will learn another language, skydive and knit a scarf some day.

I'm surprised I don't have a list knocking about that reads, “Get married, give birth, grow old, die”, with the last item to be ticked off by someone identified in my will.

At night, when I have trouble sleeping, I lie in bed between my husband and my daughter, making lists on my iPhone. I tap in blogging ideas, household chores, fun things to do with the baby.

I literally struggle to function without a list. Begin the day with a to-do list in hand and I'm likely to get something done.

The problem is that I also struggle to function with a list. Once I've written something down, it feels like it's something I have to do and I'm a massive commitment-phobe. Most of the items get left for dead. This translates my lists into little declarations of my failures on a daily basis.

I always thought that the trouble was procrastination. Recently, I've come to the conclusion that I am addicted to making promises to myself so that I can let myself down. It's a kind of self-sabotage, if you will.

This pathological behaviour turns my innocent-looking to-do list into a vindictive choice to kick my own self-esteem in the nuts. Over. And over.

So, of course I'm terrified of passing this on to my child. It's an entirely valid fear because this dependence on lists was passed on to me. It's a bonafide family trait.

I won't tell you who in my family I inherited it from because they sometimes follow my internetting and far be it from me to “out” a fellow list-maker.

I do wonder, though, if they feel the same way; that our lives are lived more on bits of paper strewn across rooms than in reality; that we write obsessively in order to disappoint ourselves.

Where has this bizarre behaviour come from? What place inside that person became the starting point? Was there someone else before them who was equally prone to these destructive lists? How did this snare become my own? How can I stop myself from passing it on to my own child?

If I think about it too much, it will just end up on a list of things not to pass on to her. So I won't.

Instead I open the drawer and look at lists of scripture and poetry to memorize, films to watch, a novel to write, a house to buy, recipes to try, a vocabulary to expand, one thousand and one things intended to make me, somehow, into a worthier person. Worthy of what exactly, I have no idea.

This is the antidote, though. This is what I need to teach her every day. I want my child to know that she is already worthy. As she is. No additives necessary. Worthy of everything.

Follow Circus Queen on Twitter at AdleleJK

4 comments:

  1. My mother-in-law adds a few things that she's already done to a list so she can tick them off and it's not such a condemning thing to look at! I initially laughed when I found out, but its grown on me.

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    1. I am totally taking that up! I don't know why I never considered it before...

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  2. Yip, I do exactly the same! Except mentally. Hours of my life are spent fantasising about what I should be doing, how I should be doing it, and what my life will be like If I get around to doing it!! If I write any of it down, I feel a little better. It doesnt mean I do any of it, but i suppose I see it writing it down as keeping a record of some thought process that I may be able to use in some kind of writing etc etc

    don't worry about passing it on. it's probably genetic!!

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    1. It really probably is! I like the idea that it's recording a thought process though.

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