I have always loved making New Year’s resolutions. I would never consider myself an idealist, but every time January 1st rolls around I enthusiastically make a list of all the things I hate about myself and all the ways I’m going to fix them.
2002: Get kissed by a boy. You are fourteen, this is getting embarrassing!
2003: Finish writing the Great American novel!
2004: Finish a novel.
2005: Finish a novel, already!
2006: Seriously, you can do it this time! Finish a novel!
2007: Learn a second language and become a legit hippie.
2008: Be kinder to people.
2009: Really travel.
2010: How’s that novel coming?
2011: Clean up your language, you are a mother now!
2012: Exercise and eat right.
2013: Seriously, get a handle on your temper.
2014: Be kinder to people.
2016: Eat better and exercise!
But this year, as all of the old and new things I hate about myself were rolling around in my head searching for a common solution: less technology, more healthy choices, do more stuff you enjoy doing so you aren’t a stressed out person all the time! I couldn’t settle on any strict resolutions I had a prayer of following through on for even a day. This year I couldn’t even delude myself like I always have in the past. Less technology? I was writing these goals on my phone, getting bored, and checking Facebook. Healthier choices? Great, but it’s family movie night, and that includes Milk Duds. So…. Do more stuff I enjoy? That I can do. That I can make happen! Right? Well, except my kids are too young to take hiking, I am a full-time English student, my writing time is already spoken for and the same goes for reading, my love of baking actively undermines my “healthier choices” code phrase for “diet”, and traveling is always restricted by financial realities.
Speaking of reality, as I was texting a friend all of these thoughts and ideas, it suddenly hit me, this is my reality. Trust me, I understand you can probably read this and think of solutions to counteract my list of objections, but even as you give them to me, I will smile and nod, with a knot of dread in my stomach because I know that isn’t my reality.
So that’s what I’ve decided. In 2017 I will be okay with myself and my reality. I will not be disheartened by unrealistic expectations of myself. I will be okay that this is where I am in life right now. I am in a place where my phone is the window to the world I don’t actually get out in much as a Stay at Home Mom. I am going to accept that healthier choices don’t need to be extreme diet overhauls I can never follow through with, because for me it will look like going to the gym for the relief of free childcare, it might look like roasting veggies and chicken in olive oil for dinner and following up with Milk Duds because it is family movie night after all. As for doing more of what makes me happy, and that was the big one for me, it means learning to be okay with the fact that motherhood is a sacrifice and life is hard, and right now as a full-time student with a 5, 3, and 1 year old I just don’t get to. And that’s okay because in a couple years I can drag them down hiking trails with me, I have a husband I can kiss any time I want to, and someday I will write a novel. Maybe even the whole thing.
Because the thing about the reality of who I am is that it protects me from who I’m not. I can’t just up and decide I am a mom in the style of Gwyneth Paltrow anymore than I could flip my non-existent hippie switch when I was a teenager. The reason I can’t follow through with what may sound like good ideas, even when given very real solutions of how I can do so, is that deep down inside, that’s not who I am or where I am at right now. As you can imagine I didn’t have the experience or talent needed to write the Great American novel at 15. I wanted to, I really did, but I couldn’t. And that’s okay.
None of this is to say self-improvement is a scam, it is just to say, becoming a better version of myself means making little decisions every day to foster my natural maturation and it won’t be accomplished by any sweeping declarations motivated by a deep dissatisfaction with reality.
So my unconventional New Year’s Resolution is this:
Someday is okay. Because right now I am good enough and I don’t want to spend another year disappointed in myself for not being someone different.