Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mommy Mondays: What I Am

Yesterday, Sarah and I were discussing our New Year's Resolutions. I had already shared my writing resolutions for 2012 with all of you, but Sarah (who never, ever lets me off the hook) insisted that those were goals, not resolutions. To be honest with you, I wasn't really sure what the difference was.

Sarah described a goal as something you don't necessarily have control over (like getting an agent), whereas a resolution is a decision to achieve something or make a change, a sort of pact you make with yourself. For example, Sarah resolved to do something philanthropic with her time this year. Many people resolve to lose weight or quit a bad habit. Unfortunately, most resolutions tend to be broken fairly quickly. According to the New York Times, "Four out of five people who make New Year’s resolutions...will eventually break them. In fact, a third won’t even make it to the end of January." Goals, on the other hand, tend to stick around for longer, probably because we can put them off as long as we want.

So, what are my resolutions? For one thing, I resolve every year to be a better wife and mother. Of course that's pretty abstract, but generally it has to do with being more patient, not just with John and Jack, but with myself as well. Unfortunately, I sort of shot myself in the foot this morning by deciding to change Jack's crib sheet. Seriously, who in the hell decided that the crib mattress should not only be the exact same size as the crib, but so stiff it requires super-human strength to bend it into submission? And of course the mattress is at the lowest setting, and the crib itself comes up to my armpits, so when I bend over the railing to try and reach the far side of the crib, my feet are dangling a good two feet off the ground, making leverage as unattainable as the patience I resolved to embrace in 2012. Worst of all, when you're changing the crib sheet, you have nowhere to cage your toddler. This means that while you're hovering in mid-air, muttering obscenities as your feet flail around uselessly, your child is running from room to room like an escaped chimp, slamming doors, riffling through drawers, and above all looking for anything that is highly likely to cause bodily harm. Patience, indeed.

After Sarah told me the things she'd like to change about herself this year, she looked at me expectantly. She'd just acknowledged her character flaws and apparently it was time for me to confess mine. "The thing is," I said after thinking for a few moments, "and I know you're probably going to laugh when I say this, but there isn't really anything major I want to change about myself. I've sort of come to accept myself for what I am." Remarkably, Sarah managed to keep a straight face. While she certainly made no effort to agree with me, she did manage to come up with a fairly diplomatic response. "You're right. You've finally gotten to a point in your life where you're happy with yourself."

Now don't get me wrong, people. I'm still insecure about a lot of things, and as I demonstrated this morning, I have plenty of stuff to work on. But for the first time in my life, I really am happy with who I am. Not with what I've achieved, necessarily, but with who I am as a person. And it only took thirty-one years to get here!

Like all parents, John and I like to fantasize about the hundreds of opportunities in Jack's future. Knowing that he will grow up in the Foreign Service is scary and exciting at the same time. He'll probably be far more independent than I was as a child, but probably a lot more lonely, too. He won't have the luxury of growing up with the same friends, living in the same house, and going to the same school, but he'll meet new people and experience things he'll never forget. Imaging all that possibility is one of the most exciting aspects of parenthood. Naturally, John and I have already discussed numerous career paths:

Food critic?
Unemployed hipster?
Whatever path Jack chooses -- and I'm sure it will be something we haven't even imagined yet -- I hope it takes him a lot less than thirty-one years to accept himself for who he is. After all, what's not to love?

And in the meantime, I resolve to make it John's responsibility to change the crib sheet.

(If you have a spare moment, check out this Sesame Street video with entitled "What I Am.")


Sarah said...

Great post, Mar! And the song was so cute (though will could have been a *bit* more enthusiastic - just sayin'...). Also, we've already decided Jack's career path, remember? Award-winning photographer/ journalist (I just added that journalist bit), here he comes! Happy new year - love you!

Mara Rae said...

I know, Will isn't exactly enthusiastic. Fortunately the muppets have more than enough spunk to make up for it. I love how they dance! Seriously, we missed our calling as muppeteers Sarah!

Sarah said...

Oh yeah - that's Jack's other career. Or ours. It's never too late.

Shauna said...

Love this post! I love you the way you are too. And those photos of Jack, as always, too cute!

Jenny S. Morris said...

That video was cute. I guess most of the stuff I've set for myself in 2012 when it comes to writing are goals. But all the stuff that has to do with health and fitness are resolutions, but I want to treat them like goals.

Oh, and Jack is so cute, not matter what job he's posing for. And I thought toddler beds sucked, then I had to make the top bunk of a bunk bed. Ugh, they suck.

Can't wait to see you.

Sophia Chang said...

I loved your intro for NaNoRevYe!

And I just wanted to share that one of my play directors years ago grew up around the world (father was also a diplomat or some kind of traveling civil servant) and she was FAR from lonely. In fact, she had friends EVERYWHERE and could make friends with anyone. It's people like me (only children stuck in a podunk town) that grew up lonely. Jack'll love his experience and be so much more aware than anyone else his age!

Janet Johnson said...

Amen about the crib sheets! Aack and aack again. :)