She grabbed my hand. Not now, is what I wanted to say, but instead, her fingers intertwined with mine without hesitation.  I knew her questions would come next. My mind gravitated toward my to-do list, a mental blueprint of all the things I felt compelled to do. Drive to the store to get groceries. Pay the bills. Do the laundry. Write. Exercise.

“Momma, can we color? Please. Please.” My five year old runs with her steel pail as crayons fell which left a trail of minor marks on our carpet.

“No. Not right now. I have to make dinner.” It’s 4:30 p.m. and I have only and hour before my husband comes home.

“But you said you would color with me yesterday. You promised.” She is now on the edge of tears and is standing in the kitchen armed with various coloring books.

“Yes. I know, but Momma is busy right now. I will color with you later.” I give her my best motherisdoingsomethingveryimportant look and start removing pots and spices out of the cabinets.

“You are always busy Momma. You always say that.” She said this with a conviction I didn’t recognize before.

I stopped. My daughter’s reaction surprised me and her words fell inside of me like a line of dominos. Am I really too busy to sit and color with my daughter? My reluctance to color with my daughter revealed a deeper truth. Unless something works toward a goal or a red line through my to-do list, I am less likely to participate in it. Her request and my reaction reminded me of my meditation class where the instructor asked us to eliminate the word “goal” from our breathing exercises. The idea sounded revolutionary to me. No goals? No to-do list? How would I embrace the uncertainty of not focusing on an outcome?

The bigger question becomes this: What about my life compels me to keep crossing items off my list? Isn’t the living in all of the items not on that list?

Coloring with my daughter definitely wasn’t on my agenda. But as we sat side by side, I looked over, saw her smile and say “Your coloring with me Momma. That makes me so happy.”

I reached over and gave her a kiss on a cheek. And my list fell off my lap.

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