Tired eyes stare back at me in the foggy mirror. I shake my head, lean in, hands firm on the edge of the bathroom counter and say out loud to my frustrated self: “quit being so damn hard on yourself.”
And there it is. My New Year’s Resolution.
It’s that time of year again. Intent on becoming a “better” version of ourselves, we vow to eat healthier, work out more, scream less, get along, donate, listen, learn, try… and on and on.
This I do not need. Granted, I can definitely stand to make improvements, just like anyone else. But, I was right that morning I spoke to myself in the mirror. I am too hard on myself. If I say nothing else about my thirties, it’s that I have become the woman I was meant to be all along. I am a better friend, a better mother, daughter, sister, ex-wife, employee, writer, student, teacher… I also eat better than ever before. None of my meals is picked up from a “drive through” window. I attend boot camp three times a week. I have spent the past year working hard to get published, and have succeeded – times three.
Nevertheless, I constantly berate myself. I question my actions, my words, my work ethic and my parenting skills. And I wonder. Whether I’m making the right decisions, whether I’m too lenient or too strict. And I am consumed by a mother’s guilt compounded by my Catholic upbringing. I feel guilty about not making it to Mass every week, and every so often, missing one of my son’s many soccer games. I’ll say it one more time: I’m too hard on myself. I need to learn to be content with who I am.
Every day, I get three children out of bed and off to school. I give 100% at work, and then some, fielding calls and emails from my own clients at lunch time for freelance writing work. After work, I pick up kids, sign papers, get homework started, shuffle kids to soccer practices and religion classes and prepare dinner. I run the washer the dryer, and the dishwasher. If it’s cold, I start a fire in the fireplace (yes, a real fire, no flipping of a gas switch in my home), make hot cocoa, and sometimes cookies and milk. I give baths, kiss boo-boos, rake leaves (or mow the lawn or shovel the snow), read bedtime stories, and pat backs as my children drift off to sleep.
I might spend a few stolen minutes writing, and after a few weeks, I’ve got another article or essay ready to send out for possible publication. It’s not a boring life. In fact, I should be damn proud of what I accomplish every day. It’s about time I start realizing that, instead of worrying about how I could have handled a fight between my kids better, or finished a freelance assignment quicker, or got to work a few minutes earlier.
This year, I will try to smile when I see that fiercely independent, healthy, successful, 38-year old woman eyeing me in the bathroom mirror. This year, I will reach my own arm around and pat myself on the back for a job well done. This year, I simply resolve to be.
Do you have a New Year’s Resolution? Or do you simply resolve to avoid them altogether?
Here’s to a healthy, joyful New Year at the end of which we can look in the mirror and be damn proud of the person looking back ; )