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Perfect Excuses

It never ceases to amaze me that I can put off anything from placing my meat order at the butcher to starting to clean for Pesach

Resolutions are the promises we make to ourselves allowing us to right our wrongs. And because a resolution never starts until tomorrow, the next day, or the next week, we get to indulge in said wrong just a bit longer.

The first step in a resolution is always creating the List. Listing the things we wish to change forces us to face them with a resolve that would gain us a standing ovation at a Weight Watcher’s meeting.

Examples can include:

  1. Organize the laundry room, smile, take pictures, and post that picture on the class chat just to disprove being titled “Miss Congeniality” (because everybody’s gotta be good at something) in the high school yearbook. Yes, I do have some life skills. I just don’t think Susie, Chanie, and Shani will be convinced till they see the pic.
  2. Smile, take a picture in front of the chaos in the overstuffed garage, then organize, declutter, and haul the bags of leftover junk to the tree lawn. Smugly wait to have the neighbors ask you when you’re moving. (Send that picture to the class chat, too.)
  3. Dress your very single 25-year-old daughter in the lovely outfit you can’t afford or would never allow yourself — and drag her to every shadchan in the neighborhood and beyond, insisting that she stand next to you at your rabbi’s son’s wedding, just to prove to your mother that yes, you are doing everything possible to get her a date. Smile and… you know the routine.

Once you’ve made those lists, the challenge is to actually get things crossed off, and of course we all have the most elaborate and ingenious rationalizations for why things don’t get done.

Excuses for why? Those are exercises in creative writing at their best. I myself am president of the 2-2-2 Club. Too hot; too cold; too little; too late; too early; too humid; too much. That covers just about everything.

One of the most wonderful feelings of accomplishment comes at the end of the day when we’ve crossed off the last thing on our to-do list. Sometimes we cross off those items because we have actually accomplished them. Other times it’s simply easier to cross them off than to do them. Pick up this, drop off that, don’t forget to call Aunt Shirley, and all the other little things that clutter your day? They all go to the head of the line on tomorrow’s list.

Finding reasons not to move through our lists can take a lot of brain power. Another method is just taking a nap. I’ve mastered both. If procrastination were an Olympic sport, there’s no question in my mind that I would medal in it.

As one of my children’s wedding dates loomed, I stood in the shoe section of my favorite department store (you can tell how long ago this was), trying to explain to the sales person at the service desk — who was concentrating on her computer — the urgency of having the shoes I wanted overnighted. “When is the wedding?” she asked without looking up.

“Three days,” I replied.

With nary a glance in my direction and in a perfectly calm voice she responded, “In denial, are we?”

Lists allow me to prioritize. Getting things done is another story. It’s hard to explain why some things can warrant instant response and others are delegated to a back burner. It’s not as if we don’t know some things are coming. Giving birth is a perfect example. The seventh month is usually followed by the eighth and (surprise!) the ninth.

It never ceases to amaze me that I can put off anything from placing my meat order at the butcher to starting to clean for Pesach.

I remember glancing at the clock just as I was about to walk into the wedding hall where our youngest son was getting married and wondering how much weight I could lose in the next 20 minutes – given that I had promised myself that for this wedding I would finally lose those pesky pounds.

The mail just arrived with the invitation to the next family simchah. I’ve already promised myself I’ll sign up for a spin class, work on power walking, and join the local gym.

Ordering the new sneakers can wait til tomorrow.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 820)

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