At that moment I knew. I knew the way you know about a good melon.

A while back, I read Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP newsletter, something I never do unless my attention is directed to it.  This particular newsletter – which I cannot find archived, for some reason – dealt with how to be organized.  I was particularly interested because, not to overly congratulate myself here, I consider myself to be a very organized person.  Hyper organized, one might say.  Insanely organized, even.  I write in my agenda daily, little to-do lists that really transcend what I think normal people probably write on their to-do lists.  For example, I write down “clean bathroom” on the same days that I clean the bathroom, week in and week out.  One might think that, hey, it’s Monday/Wednesday/Friday.  I always clean the bathroom.  I do not need to write that down.  But yes.  I do. 

That’s just day-to-day information.  If something really big is happening – and by “really big” I mean “really big in the life of a stay-at-home-mom”, so take that with a grain of salt – then I compile lists, normally on spreadsheets.  If there are three really big events occurring over a six week period, which is my situation right now, then the lights will be dimmed with my spreadsheet making. 

So when I read this GOOP newsletter I was struck by two things: a) Gwyneth Paltrow’s writing is somewhat difficult to read, but it seems that she is attempting to show the world that she is just a regular mom, which I contest given that regular moms do not normally shimmy on a grand piano at the Grammys with Cee Lo Green and a tribe of dancing Muppets, although I totally would if I had the chance, and b) she has a friend who she admires for her organization as she makes spreadsheets when she is packing to go somewhere. 

I read that and thought, really?  Doesn’t everyone just make spreadsheets while packing?  But no, it appears that they do not.  Also, not everyone makes a weekly dinner plan to avoid staring at the fridge and sobbing at five o’clock.  Neither do they carefully schedule grocery trips and other boring domestic activities into their daytimers.  It appears that I am just an anal weirdo.

Remember the scene in When Harry Met Sally (greatest movie ever) when Sally finds out that her old boyfriend, Joe, is getting married?

Sally: I’m difficult.

Harry: Challenging.

Sally: I’m too structured, I’m completely closed off.

Harry: But in a good way.

That’s me.  I am Sally.

The problem with being hyper-organized is that something has to give, and that something is sponteneity.  I have a very hard time just going with the flow, especially if I’m busy.  This week has been extraordinarily busy, for me, as I have been running our Scholastic book fair; in other words, this is the week I stand in awe of working parents everywhere.  How do you all do it?  Clearly I am just accustomed to a slack, slow-paced life as I am frantically trying to keep up with my regular life in addition to dealing with excited little people and their ravenous acquisitions of floppy covered books and fancy erasers.  I am TIRED, people.  And I think I need a glass of wine, Thursday be damned.

I need to learn how to go with the flow, I need to learn to be more spontaneous (perhaps I should write that on my to-do list: “LEARN SPONTANEITY”.)  I need to learn to take a deep breath and not get frustrated when (let’s say, for example) Jake leaves his mittens on the steps at lunch and then slips and falls down said steps thirty seconds before we have to leave the house, in order for me to be on time to open up the book fair.  Let’s say.  Or to be more empathetic when I hustle the children back to their normal routine after a ten-day vacation, and remember that if I am frantically rushing around it affects them, and to not completely snap when I ask Mark to please pick up his Legos and he responds with an “Awww!  What?  I never get to do ANYTHING!”  I also need to not be completely thrown off when I reach into the dog’s crate to retrieve his food bowl and subsequently thrust my hand into a pile of his own regurgitated food that he was trying to re-consume.

Well, maybe I can accept being thrown off by that.  What can I say, it’s been a bit of a crazy week.


  1. Okay I am not quite that organized but I do make lists when I am packing! 🙂 I have never been very spontaneous but my husband is so we keep each other balanced. Over the years I have chilled out a bit and I stop him from doing really stupid things! 😀 I hope you get to rest this weekend!

  2. I struggle with spontaneity a lot.
    I’m your typical type A…everything planned…organized…yadda yadda you know the drill.
    It’s hard but you have to just learn to be good enough. It will kill you inside for a while but I’m telling you it’s worth it.

  3. I am somewhere in between. I do type a list out on the computer for packing as I find it really helps and I am constantly losing paper. That being said because I work directly from home I need to learn to be more organized. I not only have the kids and the house to take care of but I am also running two business’ from home. It gets hectic but I also know how to relax. I hope you have a much better weekend and find the time for some spontaneous relaxation.

  4. You should be thrown off by the last point. I love making lists. I just prefer then on pen and paper rather than spreadsheets. But for me, spreedsheets are too much like math and therefore to be avoided.


  5. Mrs.Mayhem says

    Yes, write “learn spontaneity” on your to-do list. That’s awesome!

    I love lists, always have several on little scraps of paper. But spreadsheets? Oh the horror.

  6. I’m a planner too – list maker, spreadsheet maker, calendar keeper. I also put “grocery shop” and “laundry” in the calendar on the regular days…my husband mocks me, but now at least I can say I’m not the only one!

    I’ve just accepted it. I’ll never be a lover of spontaneous fun. It must be PLANNED, DAMMIT. Planning makes me happy, and so it shall be.

  7. So in addition to body type, here’s another way I’m the EXACT OPPOSITE of you. I’ve had to make a few nods to getting organized since the kids are in school and there’s a limit to the number of times I want them to have to use “My Mom is a flake” when something’s not done or in their bag. But spread-sheeting is just not in my nature — I’ve finally just learned to accept that.

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