I like to say that I don’t do New Year’s resolutions – taking part in something so common is just to joiner for my contrarian nature. All the year-end lists, the fitness plans, the best ofs and the worst ofs, the how to stick to your resolution guides. They’re all just too everywhere to make me want to be a part of it.
And yet I so, so want to be a part of it.
The idea of turning over a new leaf, of improving your lot and your life, of the cleanse after the party – it’s a cycle of reincarnation that I used to put myself through every summer on every island, every year in every different country, every few months with every guy I would date. I went through it every time I started a new job, or had a transformational night out, or even just reorganized my bookshelves.
Then I got married (of course) and stayed put (sort of) and made a family, and there wasn’t any time for this sort of sea change. The change was still there, of course – nothing changes your life more than the birth of your first child, not to mention the development of a career and the growth of a marriage. But what was missing was the purge. We had moved forward, but we had never looked back, and this was making it hard to progress with ease and with a clear destination in mind.
And so here I am, left with the New Year. It’s a cliché as old as the calendar, but it’s also my dream come true – a publicly sanctioned holiday dedicated to fresh starts, a free pass for me to finally give in to the constant daily desire to clean house, physically and emotionally. I work in higher ed, which means that I don’t get paid a lot of money, but I do get the entire holiday off every year – two weeks to prepare myself for the reinvention ahead. It’s my sacred time for closet cleaning and emergency kit restocking, for late night reminiscing and reconnecting. And then, once everything feels fresh and clean, it’s time for thinking about the future.
February is right about the time every year where this future comes home to roost. This is right about the time that all those resolutions, all that focus on what’s new and what’s next, it all starts to feel just about normal. This year, though, this hasn’t been the case. This year I’ve resolved to not get everything quite so resolved.
In 2014, I had a life-changing year. Among the many transformational experiences I had was starting a new job – a job that changed my life more than any single event since having my daughter three years ago. Generally this change has been good. But generally, this change has also been difficult. Stressful. At times overwhelming – overwhelming and wonderful all at once, but it’s taken its toll, most noticeably in my relationship with my daughter.
I was working too much, running and writing more than ever, still striving to preserve that last little sliver of time with friends and that tiniest bit of time with my husband. And in an effort to maintain this extracurricular routine in order to maintain some sanity in the stress of a new job, the extra hours at work cut into the last piece of my life that was left – my daughter. There are, after all, only twenty-four hours in a day.
In January of 2015 I resolved to recalibrate, to find balance. I resolved not to miss another dinner with my daughter because I got wrapped up in work, which meant unplugging my car for the drive home at 5:45 on the dot on weeknights. For weekend balance, it meant taking my weekend runs during my daughter’s naptime instead of working, and being with her during the times I usually would have been running, which all meant even more shuffling of even more work.
My solution – work every night from home after my daughter goes to sleep, and shift all of my writing work to the weekends.
Last year, a couple of good weekend writing nights could have been enough for me to maintain my weekly posts, but a few months ago I started working (hard!) on a novel that’s been brewing for a long time. Which of course means more shuffling, because I now had a lot of writing to be crammed into half the time.
Or not crammed at all, as the case may be. Just working like I had always worked.
In 2013, I started this blog on a whim. I had turned over a new leaf and had found something totally unexpected which I still couldn’t define, at the same time that I was chock full of fears and fantasies and that loneliness that only a new mother can really know. There was so much to talk about, but my daughter wasn’t ready to hear it and all her stuffed animals just stared back at me blankly every time I would broach a subject they deemed too serious.
I needed – desperately needed – to figure out who I was, now that I wasn’t quite like the person I had been and wasn’t quite yet the person I thought I had been on track to become. Was I a writer or was I a registrar? Was I a washed up techno punk or was I a sappy sentimental mother of a miracle child?
Through this blog I figured out who I am now, and where it is I might be going. Through the writing of the posts, through the thoughtful comments, through the beautiful, honest blogs I’ve followed – I have so much gratitude for everything this community has helped me to understand about myself and about my place in the world. But two years after that first whim, I can’t help to ask what’s next.
It’s time for Mom at Work to get a makeover, but it’s going to take me a while to get there. In the meantime, I’ll still be here, and I’ll still poke my head out every now and then when I feel I’ve got something useful to say. And more than anything, I’ll still be here loving the work of all you awesome bloggers out there continue to do with a gusto that can’t help but inspire me.