Each year I welcome the holidays with childlike wonder, soaking up the hope and patience that come to visit. Less than a month later I stow the decorations and vacuum the pine needles in a frenzy to reclaim order. Usually the cleaning blitz extends beyond the decorations as I scour the fridge and go through closets. I know I'm not alone as I watch headlines crop up with tips for a cleaner, healthier, cheaper New Year.
Lose weight. Let go of baggage. Meditate.
Everyone dives in and I think: Maybe I can make a pledge to reform some part of myself. Then the next wave of articles hits with people consumed by having fallen off the fitness wagon or finding dinner as a family five nights a week just wasn't in the cards. The near-certain failure that New Year's resolution lists risk isn't something that I need.
One look in the room Finley and Avery share and I am reminded of so many things I've had on my list of things to improve.
We were going to make our beds each morning.
Put dirty clothes in the hamper and carry it downstairs once a week.
I was going to vacuum the carpet more often and match all the socks.
Then I see the space on the chalkboard wall, I was going to write more notes.
There's a care package to send to Liv in thanks for our beloved Squirrelty.
A rainbow winks at me from the floor, cast by the prism Sean hung in the window.
The truth is we have been making the beds more often than we used to. We've had more slumber parties too, which is why the extra mattress is on the floor. The unmade bed reminds me that I said yes. A theme over these 9+ years of parenting and blogging has been to say yes more, but no matter how hard I try, I rarely give myself credit for having said it.
The thing that bothers me about resolutions is that they don't mean much. Coming as they do at this one time of year, I question who they are really intended to benefit. Maybe rather than making resolutions we should resolve to mean it.
Don't modify what you eat or how you dress; don't swear off one kind of shopping or revamp how you parent.
Just mean it.
When you say sorry, do you mean it, or is it a reflex? I say that I'm sorry so much it's really more like an umm than a sentiment. I want my words to match what I really think and feel.
When I say that I ought to go to bed earlier or unplug more often, I want to mean it. It doesn't have to change how I live for the rest of the year or mean that I failed. Resolving to mean it gives me the power to follow through on what I say, because if I don't mean it or don't intend to do it, then I just shouldn't say it.
Sometimes being the mom I want to be means that making the bed right before we turn in for the night is OK. It also means that I say no to the triple chocolate stripe cookies in the plastic bag because amid the yeses I offer, the nos are just as important.
This year I do want to try meditation, but with 365 days during which to do it, I don't want to call myself a failure on day 31 if I haven't tried it yet.
2014 will be another precious year in my life, not a list. So if dinner is late or a little dry because I decided to stay unexpectedly put, so be it.