It was December 31, 2011 and to end the year I did something risky. I asked my husband how he thought I could improve in 2012. Being the smart and cautious guy he is, he was hesitant to respond right away. He said he didn’t want to answer because he was afraid of “pissing me off”. I told him not to worry and that I probably already thought about what he would say. I promised that I would not get mad at him.
I was proud of myself that day for two reasons: One, because I actually asked my husband to give me input, and two, because I kept my word and did not get mad at him for how he responded. In hindsight, I think it was easier for me to not get mad because he did tell me what I already knew.
Don’t get me wrong, I am the queen of defensiveness. All my life I have struggled to make other people wrong when it was really me who was at fault. As he answered me, one of the first things that came to mind was a pack of tissues my sister gave me in my stocking one year. They said, “Dear Santa, I can explain…” Those tissues, which I still have to this day, sum me up quite well. I always have a reason or an excuse for doing what I do, even when I know I shouldn’t or when I want to change.
The first thing on his list of improvements was amongst my top five of resolutions for 2012. He’d like to see me get less frustrated with our children and with him when he gets home from work.
Although friends have remarked that I seem incredibly patient with my kids, I’d like to invite them to my house between 4:30 and 5:00 pm or the “witching hour”. Be a fly on my wall and perhaps you’d reconsider thinking I was a patient mother.
In my defense, at the witching hour we are all tired and hungry. Getting dinner on the table is amongst my top priorities. I think I am hypoglycemic (although no one in the medical profession has ever verified this hypothesis). Low blood sugar coupled with tiredness and tired children, almost always spells disaster.
And why does it happen that minutes before Daddy walks in and all hell is breaking loose as soon as the door swings open it as if nothing out of the ordinary was going on inside? It kills me that I get the benefit of the screaming and crying and he walks in to be tackled with hugs and adoration. Rather than being grateful that the chaos has stopped, in those moments, all I can think is “It’s just not fair!” Tell me I’m not alone.
The next most obvious issue he (and I) would like me to improve upon in 2012 is overspending. Again in my defense, I have gotten remarkably better with money over the years but I still battle overspending, especially at the grocery store. While I always go in with a list, I almost always end up buying stuff that isn’t on my list.
In the moment, I can easily justify overspending. “We need this” or “We are almost out of that” are amongst my top excuses for putting things in my cart. Sales almost always get me. It is hard for me to pass up BOGO’s, 2 for $5 items, and throwing things in the cart that I think the kids will like to try.
But when I’m home and putting the groceries away, I question my initial rationalization. Who really needs three bottles of toasted sesame oil or five boxes of peppermint tea? Coming soon on Hoarders: a Petaluma mom of three and her exceptional collection of spices, teas, and condiments.
So while I definitely have some big things to work on in 2012, like getting back into running (after the baby is born), smiling more often, breathing deeply frequently, looking up at the sky from time to time, and teaching my girls to ride their bikes without training wheels. There are also a few little things I’d like to improve upon as well. I’d like to figure out how to curl ribbon better. I learned this holiday season that I’m not very good at it and I’d like to improve before the holidays come back again. I’d like to stop giving my kids popcorn as a snack the day the rugs are vacuumed (this is a regular occurrence and I can’t stand the irony of it). I’d like to service my car as soon as the light goes on rather than put it off for three more months. And so on…
With the birth of another daughter coming so soon, I know 2012 is going to be full of excitement. While my goals for 2012 are big, my biggest hope is that I just do my best. While I’m not expecting sainthood any time soon, I suspect that if I try to tackle my goals with more laughter and patience with everyone, but mostly with myself, it is going to be a wonderful year.