So, I keep seeing all these blogs and articles that have number lists all over the place. Like “5 Ways to Organize Your Life for the New Year” or “8 Must-Do Rules for Parents of Pre-teens/Pre-schooolers/Middle Schoolers/Labradoodles” or “12 Ways to Ensure Marital Bliss Forever and Ever, Amen” or “42 Simple Steps to an Organized Home” (I really could use that one). It got me to thinking….I’m a relative rookie when it comes to the whole blog thing, right? Maybe I’m supposed to have number lists, too. Maybe I skipped an important “20 Steps to a Successful Blogging Career” memo somewhere along the way, thus depriving my readership and myself of Numerical List Nirvana.
Ok, “nirvana” might be somewhat of an exaggeration. And now I have “Smells Like Teen Spirit” stuck in my head. Great.
It’s also the beginning of a brand new year (insert fist pump here – way to go 2015!!), and time to start the list-making, goal-writing, resolution-creating madness we all know and love. To reflect on 2014, picking out what went well, what we loved, the goals we managed to accomplish and triumphs we experienced and decide where we go from here. What could we have done better? What did we fall short of that was conceivably within our grasp had we just pushed a bit harder or reached a little farther? And what was so laughable that our only explanation as to why we chose it as a goal has to center around cocktails or sleep deprivation?
I’ve thought about this a lot this week. I’ve debated with myself, mediated discussions between the voices in my head (come on, don’t judge….you know you’ve had those moments) and prayed with varying degrees of resignation or determination. And one of my decisions for 2015 is going to involve going back in time a bit.
Let me explain.
One of the complaints from Gregg that keeps popping up with alarming regularity is my lack of organization and inability to function at the mental capacity of our college/grad school years. No argument from me there. I am so far gone from that girl and her perky competence it defies explanation. Over the past month or so, and increasingly during our “firm discussion” the other night, he keeps bringing up that when I ask him if he needs something from the store, he’ll make requests that I then forget (according to him, the majority of the time). Let me go on record to say I think this is a stupid argument on many fronts.
1) I think the incidence of my forgetting is lower than what he claims.
2) This discounts the magic fairy that lives in our house and, in her invisible, unsung, never-ending, miraculous way manages to automatically refill/replenish all supplies as needed on a regular basis, thus ensuring no one ever runs out of things like toothpaste, batteries, light bulbs, toilet paper, food or clean clothing. Oh wait – that would be me.
However, lack of intelligent dispute notwithstanding, this is obviously something that bothers him and has become more than a small bone of contention. So, I shall endeavor to work on it.
Truth be told, it bothers me, too. Not the item-forgetting portion as much as the overall decrease in function. I used to be so much more capable, it seems. As I started down the ever-familiar path of reasons-to-beat-myself-up-and-bemoan-not-getting-any-younger, this time around I had to pause for an epiphany. In romanticizing his memories of my past, more proficient, fireball self, my beloved has managed to forget a few things about that girl. And so have I.
Here comes the highly-anticipated Number List, my friends. Maybe not all that highly-anticipated. Maybe more mildly-curious-about or we-can’t-believe-you-actually-remembered-to-include-it. Whatever. On to the list!
10 Facts About Little Miss Pulled Together Pistol
1. She was a lot younger. Let’s just rip that Band-aid off quickly to expose the age wound, shall we (I’m still reeling a bit from the whole turning 40 experience)? She had (practically) limitless supplies of boundless energy (which, when depleted, could be refreshed by 16 hours of uninterrupted sleep if necessary), and a much firmer grasp of the English language, memorization skills and mental lists because her brain cells hadn’t started to die off, yet.
2. She was able to multi-task well…..for one (as opposed to five). She could focus like a laser beam because her primary responsibility was herself – her life goals, her path.
3. She wasn’t responsible for remembering all of his stuff all of the time. It came in spurts, as a bonus, not expectation. And he had less baggage then as well.
4. She was militantly inflexible. Truly. She had a system in place for accomplishing things that any drill sergeant would envy….and she did not deviate from it. Period. No one and nothing got in the way.
5. She was incredibly task-oriented as opposed to people-oriented. See #4. Her list got done, regardless of the needs of those around her.
6. She was single and young, then married and young. Her role in life was totally different. The reason her list got done regardless of the needs of those around her was helped by the difference in the needs of those around her. She had fewer commitments, fewer entanglements. No one comes to the 20 year-old for help or guidance or mentoring (thank goodness – can you imagine the disastrous advice that would be given?). Her apartment wasn’t Grand Central Station.
7. She wasn’t a mom. I don’t think I can write enough on this one. On how the parts of your brain that go to mush with each pregnancy never fully recover. On how the parts of your brain that fall out during each delivery (science is going to find a correlation there someday, mark my words) stay gone, so that with each subsequent child you have fewer brain cells to begin with, and continue to lose the same proportion, thus exponentially decreasing your cerebral mass (and intelligence quotient, as a result). On how every waking moment is spent with part of your heart, mind and soul sectioned off for “kid stuff” no matter what you are doing; and waking moments outnumber sleeping moments by bigger and bigger margins because who actually sleeps anymore? On how even when you do work on organizing and task-accomplishing, it’s in short, fitful bursts, usually interrupted by people clamoring for your attention because they are hungry, bored, tired, dirty, angry, excited, thirsty, constipated, in need of a ride, can’t find their shoes or want to climb in your lap. On the guilt that accompanies most non-mommy activities because they take time away from your children, who are your most precious treasures and won’t always need you in this way and are growing up way too fast and someday you’ll miss all this (so I hear).
8. She existed in a season. And what she did worked well, during that season.
9. She had no idea what she was in for. Thank goodness. That girl would have had a nervous breakdown if someone had given her a crystal ball and a picture of her future self. The change in jeans size alone would have put her over the edge.
10. She changed. She had to, in order to survive. She grew. She aged. She adjusted to the planned and unplanned moments life brought her. She decided that loving her spontaneous, active, type B husband was more important than trying to control him (and that his constant need to escape to the outdoors for hunting and fishing expeditions does not mean he loves her any less). She learned that dance parties take precedence over dish-washing (in the minds and hearts of her children, every time). She fell in love with people, and formed relationships she never imagined could exist. She lost a little of herself, but gained grace, mercy and forgiveness. She discovered she isn’t nearly as smart as she once thought she was. She’s more fun, though.
I like to think that, while she would be mildly (or maybe not so mildly) horrified at certain aspects of her older self, my younger persona would also be proud, perhaps a little excited, and a lot joyful at the foresight a glimpse into the future would bring her. It’s her life, after all. And so far, a pretty good one. It might do her good to be a bit intimidated, though. You know, just to keep her humble.
And while I plan on bringing this list out at intervals to remind myself (and perhaps my overly-eager spouse) that a bit of slack-cutting is due, I also plan on bringing bits of that girl back. She’s still in there. I can feel her, kicking and screaming to break out when things get too out of control. She was a warrior, and I could use some of that now and again. Things go better when I’m not past my capacity to handle chaos, and too much disorder doesn’t work for our family. The New Year is the perfect time to restructure and regroup. And while I don’t have all the answers to how we’ll do this, and none of my goals are in a spreadsheet or graph system, some type A behavior is in order here.
The old me will be so pleased to be allowed some control again.
Not too much, though. My kids would eat her for lunch.
Solidarity, sisters. In with the new doesn’t always mean out with the old. And yeah, I could totally take her. Time teaches us all a few tricks.