Tuesday, February 1, 2011

On the Year of the Rabbit...

Every January we make resolutions— they’re lofty, hopeful and we’d wager our firstborn that THIS is the year we’ll finally make good on them. Unfortunately for parents of young children, the path to success is a minefield of poopy diapers, explosive tantrums and piles of laundry that work tirelessly to make any valiant resolution attempts an inevitable failure — and that’s just the first week. So after squandering this past January, I realized that we’ve been going about this all wrong. February should be the REAL New Year for those of us who rarely get to pee alone or have precious little time for a shower. It reminded me of that old Seinfeld episode when George’s father introduced us to “Festivus,” a made-up celebration to escape the pressures of commercialism during the holiday season. “A Festivus for the rest of us!” is what he called it. This will be a little like that. A New Years for everyone who gets buried by January’s booby-trapped road to disappointment. And, no, I’m not talking to the annoying overachiever I saw jogging down the street in 20 degree below temperatures last week (you know who you are). Nay, this is a New Year’s proposal for those of us who are just trying to make it through the day, because you can’t hit the ground running when your January goes something like this…

We spent New Year’s Eve at a friend’s house, and even though we toasted with New York, by the time we drove home and put the kids to bed it was at least 11:30pm. The next day, hindered by sleep-deprivation and a single champagne glass hangover, I couldn’t rally the troops for the New Year’s 5K we’d planned to join in an effort to start the year right. After that, I decided it would be a shame to spend an official holiday eating salads and drinking tea so I vowed to ignore my vices for the last day ever and set my “clean living” clock a day ahead. But the next day turned out to be mere 24 hours away from a time-honored fresh start Monday and really, who am I to mess with tradition? Monday arrives and the alarm clock blares at 5:30am to which I audibly curse. Strike one. Hitting the snooze button prompts me to skip my workout, and now it’s only 6:15 in the morning and I’m two for two. This is followed by Cameron’s first irrational tantrum of the New Year, provoked only by the idea of getting dressed for his first day of preschool after two weeks of vacation. I realized then that this week had to be our “recovery” week to get back into a recognizable routine. Besides, how can I start eating healthily when all I have in the refrigerator is a block of Gruyere cheese from a quiche my “ideal self” planned to make, the healthy rice flax crackers I bought that no one in the house—including me—will touch, loads of condiments and a sad little crusty heel of bread? And if we don’t polish off the last of the Christmas goodies lingering in the pantry, they’d spend the rest of the month calling my name.

Next up, the “save money” line item gets cashed out when my vacuum cleaner handle cracks, and my iron takes its last breath in a dazzling fireworks display at the base of the cord (which I didn’t even notice until both of my boys were yelling at me that I was on fire). To make matters worse, my microwave goes on strike and decides it no longer wants to heat water, let alone chicken nuggets, which in my kitchen reads: threat level, red and an official state of emergency. So now, instead of “more dates with my husband,” I’m cheating on him with the appliance man, Bed, Bath and Beyond and the guy in Siloam Springs who repairs vacuums.

I’m ready to start, but now it’s freezing and the kids score their first snow day, which means I skip the gym because I’d never forgive myself if they picked up a nasty germ at the daycare and had to miss another day of school. Plus, Cameron is now having tantrums when he can’t play the Nintendo DS that Santa brought him, so we decide that both boys will be on an electronic hiatus. This move incidentally does wonders for my “spend more quality time with the kids” entry but kind of rocks my “less yelling, stress eating and wine” rule so either way, the scales tip in the wrong direction. And with that, the rest of the week follows suit as “drinking mostly water and tea” becomes “mostly wine and caffeine,” yelling returns like an old friend and sleep deprivation gets another turn at bat.

The kids have now been in school long enough for them to catch some sort of bug, which leads to three sleepless nights and totally negates the possibility of even thinking of getting up at 5:30am because I barely have enough energy to brush my teeth. The discovery of the booger wall next to the boys’ bunk bed (so riddled with constellations it could have been a GPS system for the three wise men) doesn’t help either and I narrowly make it to Sunday with bloodshot eyes and non-existent resolve.

It’s Monday again, but now it just feels wrong to begin at the end of the month and since I’ve already tainted January, it only makes sense to start with a clean slate. Chinese New Year has been celebrated in February for centuries so it’s not like I’d be ringing it in alone, and 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit. I like rabbits.

I did finally cull through the nearly 3,000 e-mails that had piled up over the last year even though it was only because I’d accidentally hit the wrong command button, but since it’s my only resolution left standing, I’m going to ride its coattails right into February, my newly adopted New Year from now on. So I humbly deem February 1st Happy “Do” Year. Anyone with me? It’s only 28 days and all those misguided January enthusiasts will have already abandoned their treadmills. Oh, and for those of you worried about Valentine’s Day getting in the way – I’ve thought of that too—but since most of us moms are receiving gas station roses and cards from the car wash, I’m giving it an “all clear.” So…what are the chances February starts on a Monday?