The Spreadsheet in My Head

In my head, I carry a spreadsheet that consists of several pages with two running columns. The first column contains the imminent. The second column contains the long term, marathon-not-sprint, items. The twins share a page. Jody and I share a page. Charlie has a page.

The Twin Page:


Long Term:

Feed breakfast. Get them to navigate the food all the way to their mouths instead of their laps.
Change the poopy diaper before it ends up on the walls. Potty training. Blerg.
Break up the fight. Teach them violence is not the answer: do not hit, throw toys or themselves on the ground.
Say “sorry” when you hurt someone else’s feelings. Know when you’re wrong and be willing to admit it: training for friendships, marriage, life.
Kiss and hug every chance I get. Assure them that they will be loved for ever and ever amen.

The Grown-Up Page:


Long Term:

Eat breakfast. Eat breakfast together.
Add to savings account. Somehow find a way for us both to make more money so the kids won’t HAVE to be prodigies and win a scholarship to go to college.
Look each other in the eye when we’re talking. Remember that I’m married to a human that I kind of like.
Say “sorry” when you hurt someone else’s feelings. Know when you’re wrong and be willing to admit it (see twins’ list above).

The Charlie Page:


Long Term:

Eat breakfast. Eat something solid and work on chewing and holding utensils.
Change diaper. Work on potty training (at some point? I’m not sure how to even begin).
Ask him what he wants to eat, watch, read, listen to with yes or no questions. Use his speaking device so he can tell me himself, with a voice.
Toss the ball with peers at school. Get him outside of his world so that he can experience this one with people his own age.
Get him to roll himself in his wheelchair to the book/toy/person he wants. Work on getting him independent so he does not have to rely on me and my physical strength alone to meet his needs.
Work puzzles and shape-drawing and reading books on the iPad. Get him ready for schoolwork so that he can thrive on his own when he goes to public kindergarten.
Apply for therapy grants. Find every way humanly possible to continue physical, occupational, speech, and feeding therapies so he can progress.
Kiss and hug him every chance I get. Assure him that he will be loved for ever and ever amen.


The imminent goals are doable. They’re the ones I note just so that I can cross them off. These are the mission accomplished tasks that keep me moving from one moment to the next. The long terms goals are broad. They’re vague enough to take the pressure off in the moment, but specific enough that I can highlight one and puzzle over it on my own time. I know most of the long term goals for the twins and Jody and me will work themselves out (minus the savings account…please please be extra smart or artsy, little ones).

It’s Charlie’s right-hand column that gives me the shivers. I’m just not sure when (if?) these will get checked off. I don’t know if he’s going to walk or talk in a free and easy way.

Sometimes, when I look at each item, stacked one on top of the other, it feels like brick upon brick. How am I going to lift the load? Because these are my lists, and I made them, I fee like I’m the only one to make it happen. (Delusion should have its own page.)

Too much pressure, I know. Too much weight and worry. The easiest and most actionable thing to do is focus on the left-hand things. But that doesn’t hold up for long.

I’m always tiptoeing over to sneak a peek. It’s not a way to live really. It’s a straight path to crazy. Whenever I start to do this, I make myself look at the one long-term goal that I know is doable, the last one: love forever and ever amen. This I can do for him, for Jody, and for the twins every single day. And really, when you think about it, I could give up control of all the rest and we’d be fine. We’d be just fine.


*Linking and listing with Meg and Amanda.

What’s the most important thing on your list?