OK....maybe a post on New Year's Resolutions 21 days after the fact is just too untimely, and should be scratched. Actually, I've written and re-written this post over the past few weeks, but it hasn't been satisfactory until now. This year I am really serious about the resolution, the chance for a new beginning, but I wanted to be sure I actually know what it is I want from 2011 before posting it publicly.
I spent most of the wee hours of January 1st crying my eyes out. It dawned on me that my dear Grandparents would not have the opportunity to see the new year, to make the changes that needed to be made, to explore and learn and see where life could take them. Their story is over now. Someday that's going to be me too, and that really depressed me. I've continued to think about it since then, and have tried to put some perspective on the whole thing. This ride we call life, the unknown that we call death, does not function to make us feel depressed, not really. It's there, I think, to make us get our act together. Once you lose someone you love, you realize you don't have an unlimited amount of time. To think so is actually rather dangerous. (Several artists on my Matchbox 20 Pandora station have underscored this point recently, I think, to make sure I'm paying attention).
OK Rob, I hear you...my world is really burning to the ground! But now what? Ryan asked me what I wanted to do with 2011, and I came up with a big old blank. Nada. That is simply unacceptable, considering the above realization. Since then I've been formulating an answer, and here it is. Drumroll please....
Resolution 2011: Focus less on "me" and more on "us".
Now, I realize you were probably expecting something much more profound, or a statement in which I vowed to save the world. Sorry, I can't do that! I can only start here at home, and this is the best resolution I could come up with. But I stand behind it, I think its a good one. Its something I think I can succeed at, and just by trying, its a win-win for everyone involved. Here's the reasoning behind the resolution.
I need to focus less on "me" the teacher, and even "me" the Mom. I have a lot of ego and a lot of preconceived notions rolled up into those roles. Those two forces lead to unhappiness here in the house. Me the teacher spends too much time away from the girls while I grade or write lectures. Me the teacher oftentimes feels slighted when student sleep through that same lecture that deprived me of precious moments with my family. Me the teacher gets my knickers in a twist when I don't know when my next teaching gig is going to show up, even though I willingly signed up for a part-time job with no benefits and no guarantee of work. Me the teacher needs to remember the reason why I chose this profession: I love art, I love school, and adjunct teaching allows me more time with my kids than anything else I could find.
Me the Mom also needs to lighten up. Since my job is so erratic, I can't afford to always serve organic food. Get over it! The kids don't care. The landscaping in the front yard is really hideous. Well, its January and everything is covered in snow, so stop searching the internet for shrubbery! Who am I cleaning this house up for anyhow, my family or Kim and Aggie? Do the girls really care how often I mop? Does Ryan really give a hoot if there are dishes in the sink? Now, don't take this paragraph to mean I am a stellar housekeeper; in fact, I am not so good at housekeeping at all! And I beat myself up over this fact all the time. Guess how fun I am to be around when I'm pouting about the piles of laundry...
As I said, time to focus on US the family. I need to realize that I am not a teacher, teaching is just something I do. I enjoy it a lot of the time, but I can't let that task define me. I am going to spend less time being so OCD about classwork, period. My kids need me to spend more time with them, and not be stressed over teaching assignments! As for me the mom, I am going to think about the what is best for the family first, rather than what I simply want. Accepting what is rather than wishing for perfection will make living under this roof more enjoyable. And the chores? Well, Nora and Emily have been good about pitching in before, so its time to dust off the chore chart!
I truly hope to achieve a happier and more balanced life by putting the needs of the family over my personal wants and needs. In the end, I need to succeed. Because, as I noted earlier, someday I am not going to be here. Guess what? I can't take anything with me when I go. My degrees, my teaching files on my thumb drive, my house, and my garden have to stay behind. So spending all my time focusing on that stuff is a huge waste of time anyways. I can, however, leave something precious when its my time to find out what happens after the last breath. I can leave my kids with the memories of time spent together, time in which they felt love. I can leave my family with lessons of what it means to think about someone other than yourself, and how that is actually the source of happiness. And hopefully I will leave some grateful students behind too, having taught them to seek out beauty in the world and enjoy it, if only for a moment.