Monday, December 31, 2012

Life's Like an Hourglass, Man. Goodbye 2012.

I sit tonight on this last day of 2012 and am reflecting about this past year. Overall, it has been a good one for me. I have so much to be thankful for.

In this past year, I cradled an infant to my breast and watched her grow into a clever, spunky little toddler right before my eyes. Another child of mine graduated top of her class and headed off to college. Her brother shot up in height, looking like a seedling captured on time-lapse photography: one moment he was a child and in a beat he had the look of a young man. This hasn’t been an easy year for my middle daughter; it’s hard to hand the baby-of-the-family torch to a successor. But her baby sister follows her around the house with abject adoration, and that puts a band-aid on the middle child wound. We have settled into a comfortable family pattern.

I spent several days in Italy in 2012, with my daughter who was about to move away to start her college life. How precious it was to discover the neighborhoods of Central Rome and look at the clear blue sea with her. The memories we created will always be with us, and I do not forget how thankful I am to have been given the resources to go on such a trip. God has been so very good to me.

I got a new job in 2012. I was promoted to a position that fills me with a sense of purpose, for the work I’m doing is important and goes beyond earning money for “the man” of a huge corporation. My job is fulfilling to me because of the work I do, the recognition I get for a job well done, and also because I could not ask for a more family focused employer.

I said goodbye to another grandparent this year. While the death of a loved one is never a happy occasion, I was able to visit my grandpa in the hospital after his stroke, and again before his death a few weeks ago. My children drew him pictures and shared stories in the cramped hospital room. And although they didn’t know my grandpa very well, they saw the love that surrounded him, and were shown how important family is.

It was a good year. After all, to quote one of my favorite songs ("Breathe" by Anna Nalick):

 “Life’s like an hourglass glued to the table. No one can find the rewind button…”
And so, on to the next year.

What are my resolutions for 2013? I’d like to lose weight. Eat healthy. Exercise more. Spend less money. Clean out my closets. Organize my files. Boooo-ring.

I think I’m going to shake things up a bit this year. 2013 will bring about a big birthday, one with a “0” at the end of it. And although it doesn’t seem possible, 2013 will lead me (gently, I hope, like a husband guiding his wife into a room with a soft hand placed on her lower back) into middle age.  How can it be, that I am middle aged? I don’t know how it happened, but I’m not one to bury my head in the sand. I am middle aged. And so, I have decided to use the forty years of wisdom that I have accrued and work on realistic goals.

I came across a quote on Pinterest that I am adopting as my motto for 2013. If we can believe the Internet, Theodore Roosevelt once said:

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

It is a profound concept. One that affects us all, I would expect. And so, with that motto in mind, these are my goals for 2013:

I am not a huge TV watcher, but when it is on, it’s almost always on HGTV. I love seeing home décor ideas, but for some reason the formulaic shows hypnotize me into sitting on my butt for an hour. At the end of the show, I end up with a vague feeling of dissatisfaction. My countertops are not granite, my cabinets are painted over. My carpet is shabby and stained in places. Pinterest has the same effect on me. Sure, there are loads of ideas on there, but for some reason, spending time perusing cool children’s princess lofts and amazing laundry rooms leaves me feeling unhappy about my own home.

My home is not new. There are a zillion updates that I would like to have done to it. But it’s a home. A relatively large one, in a fantastic neighborhood, sitting on a large and beautiful (albeit weedy) lot. It is a good house, and more importantly, it has been my home longer than any other house I have lived in. I have raised my children here, drank beers over a firepit with my neighbors, and decorated it in my own colorful style. My house is beautiful. I am going to try to remember that. And maybe watch Food Network instead of HGTV.

Sometimes when things get tough with my husband, those niggling, bitter thoughts creep in. “It’s not supposed to be this way.” “Other people don’t struggle with these issues.” “Some husbands don’t have to be told to [insert gripe here]” But again- comparison is the thief of joy, right? Focusing on what I have instead of pining for something that someone else has is the key. Probably those other people don’t have it as easy as it seems anyway.

A new baby is hard on a marriage, and I believe it’s even more difficult when the parents are of, shall we say, a more “advanced” age. Lack of sleep, busy schedules, and being enchanted by a baby’s every move shift the focus of the relationship for a time. I can see why some people don’t recover from that shift. It takes a conscious effort and one of my goals for the New Year is to do more to renew the focus on my marriage. One of my Facebook friends is divorced and recently posted a melancholic status update. She was lamenting the fact that it’s unlikely that she’ll ever have a fifty year anniversary with someone. I spent a long time thinking about that. My marriage has its challenges (as every partnership does) but it is worth the effort to stay in it for the long haul. I cannot imagine starting over with someone, when the person I am legally and spiritually bound to has fathered my four beautiful children and is so much a part of who I am. And so, my goals for my marriage are simple: to laugh more with my husband. To show him the respect that he deserves for all that he does. To focus on the good that outweighs the bad in our relationship.

Being a Daughter:
My relationship with my parents is not what I would like it to be. I could focus on that, stew about how some people I know chat for hours with their parents on a regular basis. That is not how things are for me, though.

Without going into details, I will say that this is the year that I aim to let go of my bitterness over how one parent has acted in the past and move forward with the boundaries I have established for our relationship. I can be the daughter that I want to be without focusing on how I wish that parent was different. This parent is lonely and at the end of the day, needs to know that he/she is not alone. And really, isn't that a basic need of us all?

It has occurred to me that I don’t know as much about my other parent as I would like. I want to reconnect, even though we have seen each other plenty this year. My goal is to learn more about this parent. Laugh together. Call this parent more. Visit when I can. Make the effort to reach out a hand and make the relationship what I would like it to be. Because I won't have my parents with me forever.

I could add more categories to my goals for 2013, but these are the three that I am feeling a need to work on. They are vague goals, so perhaps they’re more attainable because a definitive success metric isn’t attached to them.  And hey – if I lose a couple of pounds and organize a closet or two in 2013, that’ll be an added bonus.

Happy New Year, my friends. May 2013 bring your happiness, warmth, and peace.


Little Miss Sunshine State said...

You are so wise. Some people with gorgeous houses would be envious of your great kids. You are raising them to be good siblings who will look out for each other as adults.

A while ago I decided to be thankful that my husband was beside me whenever he was doing something I might find annoying. I could live without him but I wouldn't want to.

I've decided to have even more patience with my Mom. Her recent cancer and heart surgery kicked me into reality about her age.

Happy New Year to your family

Kirsten said...

That Teddy Roosevelt quote is perfect. I struggle with that...In reality I am surrounded by some amazing people. I need to remind myself that their lives are not easy, either.

I will be 40 in about 6 weeks, too. I want my 40s to be a better decade than my 30s. I think it's doable!

We've got this!

Barrie said...

Love the wrap-up of your year! It's hard to not get sucked into the comparison thing. Thanks for putting it in perspective. Here's to a great 2013.

Barb said...

What a wonderful post to read. 2012 was a rough year in many ways and rather than just hope 2013 is better... Much like a marriage I will actively work to make it better. Thanks for the reminder of what is important.