I do not have a natural urge to have an organized life. I have had a tendency toward chaos and disorganizaton since I was a young child. I didn't line up blocks as a toddler. In school, the Trapper Keeper was my best friend because I could close it and trap the hundreds of loose pages in my notebook. My CDs (remeber those?) were never in the correct cases. On my computer, I have photos in my music folder and music in my documents folder. I have replaced no less than five drivers licenses because they ended up somewhere other than that little window pocket in my wallet. I am a complete mess.
The funny thing is, I have always faked organizational skills very, very well. The Trapper Keeper was a metaphor for my life. When I was asked for an assignment from my terrifyingly messy notebook in school, I could always pull it out. When someone asked me to check something on my calendar, I could always find it. Problem is, it was not in the calendar. I am just really fast about searching my old emails for keywords or flipping through old receipts with notes jotted on the backs. Just because the photo I was looking for was in the music folder did not mean it was lost. Someone knew where it was. I knew where it was. There seemed to be some method of organization in my brain.
I felt a certain pressure to be more organized. I spent money on this stuff. Remember PDAs? I forked over a pretty large chunk of change back in 2002 for a state of the art Windows based PDA. I think I entered two important reminders in the PDA. I also loaded up some games, Bible software and some mp3s on the handy little gadget. Then one night I forgot to plug it in. I found it, complete with dead battery, weeks later. Owning a PDA did not change my life. Losing a PDA did not change my life. I still made those two important appointments the same way I had made appointments in all the other years of my life; I just remembered.
I spent a small fortune on file boxes, organizational cubes, daytimers and many other organizational tools. I am always so optimistic and excited about these new organizational tools. I start off with enthusiasm and within about three hours the enthusiasm wains. The file boxes end up being filled random papers, organizational cubes end up holding all the different types of junk I was originally trying to separate. The daytimers had no meaningful words written on them; instead the margins were filled with my doodling. I just relied on my memory.
Occasionally the chaos would become overwhelming. I would go through my CDs and put them in their proper places. I would organize my messy notebook, often because it was being graded. I would rearrange the folders on my laptop. I would clean out my purse. I would write things in my calendar. I would go to the Container Store. Then it would all start again.
I breezed through life on my memory, remembering appointments, assignments, meetings. Then one day the myth of mommy brain became a reality. I needed help. I needed organization. The way my brain worked seriously changed. I don't know anything about the science behind it, but I do know that in 9 quick months my daughter sucked half my brain power. I often say that she better be a smart kid since she took away so much of my intelligence. People laugh. It's as if they think I am joking.
When Mommy brain set in, I knew there had to be a better way. I suddenly had what I perceived to be less brain with more stuff to put in it. I had to have important numbers handy, I needed to know when appointments occurred, I had to have the right foods for Lily to eat, I needed to have seasonally appropriate clothes ready for Lily to wear, I needed to know which meetings I had coming up for work so I could arrange my childcare and I had this little human being depending on me to make sure it was all right. I suddenly became a pretty organized person. Lily made me do it.
There are still days I struggle with organization. Since I keep my calendar, address book and nearly everything else on a smartphone, one of those days came when Lily dumped my phone in the toilet. I still hae my Trapper Keeper moments, but most of the time everything is neatly filed away behind the correct divider. I feel accomplished. I was able to change something about myself. I changed something that once seemed to be a part of my personality. It's funny how motherhood can do that to you.