By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3
If you’re looking for one of those peppy New Year’s columns, turn the page now before I disappoint you. All this blank slate, turn-over-a-new-leaf, fresh start stuff is making me tired and the New Year isn’t even a week old.
Perhaps I’m sluggish from all the Christmas food, or maybe I’m like a grumpy bear guarding her hibernation period. I know I’m supposed to be revved up for the New Year and full of positive goals, self-discipline and determination. But I keep getting a tiny twinge of resentment every time I think about it.
There’s something about the New Year’s hype that insinuates that, for the past 12 months, we’ve all been a bunch of losers. And that this time around, we’ll do it right. We’ll put all those “should’s” and “could’s” into action and transform into entirely different people – more accomplished people with smoother skin, smaller waists, bigger bank accounts and a much more organized life.
But here’s the thing: I don’t think we failed in 2019. Although I didn’t get everything accomplished I’d hoped I would, I worked hard. I raised kids and paid bills and cleaned house and met deadlines. I tried to be good to my family and friends. And the thought of doing all those things again but ramping it up even more to satisfy the New Year’s quest of having a bigger, better, more successful year? It leaves me feeling a little overwhelmed before I even get started.
Somewhere inside me is this defensive voice saying, “I’m doing the best I can. And I’ll keep doing the best I can. But if I don’t climb a mountain or run a marathon or change the world in the next 12 months, I won’t beat myself up about it next January.”
Sure, there are things I could do better in the New Year. Eat better. Exercise more. Sleep more. Read more. Volunteer more. Procrastinate less. The list is long, and all the things on it are worthy of pursuit. But I don’t want to cram so many “to-do” lists and resolutions into the year that it ends up slipping by even quicker than the last one did. I want to enjoy my life without constantly demanding more from it.
Does that make me lazy or just content? Either way, we Americans aren’t big on being content. Part of what makes us who we are as a nation is our habit of constantly pushing forward – to do more, know more, create more. During this time of year, that restless energy to have it all reaches a fever pitch. Perhaps I just haven’t caught the fever yet.
Because the truth is, if the New Year goes somewhat like the past year, that’s okay with me. Last year, my family was healthy and safe. Last year, my body – though not in its ideal shape or condition – worked just fine. It let me get up in the mornings, keep up with my kids and do my job. My house, despite the ways it could be better, was a great place to come home to, even when it didn’t look like a magazine layout.
So, if I somehow manage to do a few more things in 2020, that’s great. I’m going to work toward that. But if the New Year clicks along much like the last one, that’s okay, too. Because I don’t want to get so busy improving my life that I forget to live and enjoy it.
From my family to yours, here’s hoping that 2019 was a good year and that 2020 will be just as good or better. Happy New Year.