Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year! Yes, I WILL Be the Cliche.

I generally don't care much for subscribing to age-old cliches and often useless traditions, but heck - I'm a sucker for certain things. And making New Year's Resolutions is one of them.

In the spirit of accountability, I'm going to post mine here for all the world to see.

(HA! The whole world doesn't read this blog! Silly Super Woman.)

Maybe someday... Anyway.

Am I going to keep them all? To the letter?

Hm.

Maybe. I sure hope so.

I didn't do too bad last year. At least for the first half of the year.

Really, as far as I'm concerned, the value is in taking a little time out of the daily grind to examine my life and identify the things that aren't working so well, as well as thinking of ways in which I can be a better person and make life better for myself and those around me. Even if I don't manage to completely overhaul the things I'm not crazy about, and even if I don't manage to change the world in some big way, at least this exercise brings those things to the forefront of my mind for a day, or a week.

Or a month. Or six months.

Or seven months and 15 days.

You get the idea.

You'll see that I don't go too crazy with my resolutions. What can I say? I'm a bit of a realist and a pragmatist when it comes to these things.

I know that if I aim too high, I'm likely to feel defeated and exhausted by the scope of my resolutions, and there's NO WAY I'll stick to them. I hate setting myself up to fail like that!

I also try not to aim too low because I want my resolutions to challenge me a little. To get me out of my usual humdrum routines. To really make an impact on my life.

Regardless of whether I keep my resolutions or not, I just have to say that I LOVE this particular cliched tradition. I really and truly do.

I love that it forces me to reflect on my life in big ways, to take stock of where I'm at today and where I want to be one year from today.

I love all of the nostalgia. Remembering all of the milestones, especially those of Super Boy's. It rips my heart to shreds to see how much he grows and changes from one year to the next, but it's also so incredibly cool to see this child that Super Man and I made turn into this whole person with unique thoughts and perspectives and a whole LIFE of his own. He's amazing, and he amazes me.

I even savor the exercise of having to look my failures in the eye and say to myself, "Yep - that did NOT go well." Or, "I completely and totally screwed that up." Or, my personal favorite, "I didn't try hard enough, didn't give it my best efforts."

Why would I embrace that, you might ask?

Well, here's a little secret: I am far too much of a perfectionist for my own good, with oftentimes insanely high expectations, and I've lived a very long time being PROUD of that. So it really does me a WORLD of good to have to admit and own up to my flaws and failures. And then forgive myself for them.

I've gotten a little bit better at it over the years, and it's one of the things I'm finally starting to like about myself.

See, I've seen how my high expectations and perfectionist tendencies kill me - and those around me - by degrees over time. And the bottom line is that it's OK to be less than perfect. It's OK to be flawed. We're human. The important thing is to put forth the best effort we can at the time and in the circumstances. That is something to be proud of.

Now, without further ado, here they are. You'll note that there are seven of them; seven is my lucky favorite number, so it seemed auspicious in the circumstances.

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My 2009 New Year's Resolutions

1. Get back on track with taking proper care of myself.

This means: Getting back to the gym on a regular basis. Getting back into the habit of drinking MORE water and LESS coffee, getting back into the habit of MORE fruits & veggies and LESS carbs. Getting more sleep by going to bed earlier. Making doctor's appointments for the things that aren't as obvious and pressing - like my skin cancer screening and my eye exam. Making doctor's appointments for the things that ARE more obvious and pressing - like seeing a fertility specialist to get to the bottom of my babyless state.

I did SO WELL with this one (in general) last year - until Super Man lost his job over the summer and we had to tighten our belts to get us through the time before he landed his great new job. I let our gym membership lapse during that time, and I didn't go in for my annual eye exam or my annual skin cancer screening, all because I was concerned about the cost. I have no excuse now. Period.

And I felt so much BETTER - physically and mentally - when I was working out 4-5 times a week from January to June of '08. I know I will feel great again once I get back into a rhythm. And being able to get back into size 6 jeans and shorts was freaking AWESOME. While I can still squeeze into some of them, I'm pushing the envelope again, and that's NOT good.

Done. Next.

2. Be a better partner to Super Man.

Like many spouses do, I tend to take my sweet husband for granted at times. If I expect a lot of myself, I expect almost as much - and sometimes more - from him. And that's not right or fair. He's wonderful, talented, hard-working, gentle and kind. He is his own person with his own dreams and goals, his own responsibilities and expectations. And yet too often I make him the unwitting target of my frustration, and it seems I especially do this when I feel that my progress with my own dreams and goals is not what I would like it to be. As though it were his fault. Which it isn't. Which is so not right.

I love Super Man, with all my heart, and I know that I am so incredibly, INCREDIBLY lucky to have found HIM to share my life with. And I'm even luckier that he puts up with all of my shit. :) I can be a very difficult person to love sometimes (just ask my Super Parents, or any of the Super Siblings...), and yet he does it with grace and a smile on his face.

Even more amazing, he considers himself lucky to have found me. I am so... not... worthy! But I want to be. I want to be, for him.

3. Be a more patient mom and stepmom to the Super Kids.

Now, for the record, I consider myself to be a pretty darn good mom and stepmom. But I'm NOT perfect. In either role.

I'm going to start with my relationship with Super Girl, my stepdaughter, because that's where the most glaring itches to scratch exist. (Which is not surprising considering that this is a relationship that is naturally going to be fraught with difficulty, given its nature.)

Considering we were smushed together as a family when both of us were at tender young ages - she was 4; I was 26 and otherwise childless - I think we've done okay. But we could be better.

Here's the thing. I need to remember PATIENCE. This relationship isn't just about me or what I think or feel; she and her thoughts and feelings are half of the equation. And considering that she's an adolescent, that's a BIG half of the equation.

I'm NOT her mom. We're only around each other an average of 4 days a month. I produced with her dad the 5-year-old who is lucky enough to live with her dad all the time and who demands an awful lot of attention, whether Super Girl is here or not.

Don't forget, too, that she's spent the past year adjusting to her mom's marriage disintegrating into another divorce after nearly 10 years, and adjusting to life without her wonderful stepdad and his two daughters and extended family and to living alone with a mom who is now dating again at a time when she herself is wrestling with the whole concept of boys and relationships and HORMONES.

And also don't forget that she's got grades to keep up, homework to do (and do well), and select volleyball and other sports to put huge effort into, in addition to a budding social life.

So, that girl's got a LOT on her plate right now. To say the least.

Bottom line, in my endeavors to try to mold and teach her our values and ethics and build a better relationship with her, I need to dig deep for PATIENCE and I have to try to relate to her more in ways that work with her and her needs and honor them.

I will say that I think our relationship has really grown in positive ways over the past year. I credit her growing up a bit with much of that, but part of it is also that I try to remember PATIENCE. Rome was not built in a day.

Where Super Boy is concerned, I think impatience and high expectations are also my biggest hurdles to being a better mom. I get easily frustrated with him, especially when he's BEING A FIVE YEAR-OLD.

Like when he's dinking around in the mornings before school and taking his sweet time despite repeatedly being asked to speed it up a little bit so we're not late, only for us to end up LATE. Or when I have to ask him a dozen times to get dressed (in clothing I've clearly set out for him) and he doesn't do it because he's too busy watching a cartoon. Or playing with a Ben 10 action figure or a Bionicle. Or he's just got his hand down his pants again.

All of that drives me I-N-S-A-N-E. And it makes me laugh. And I love him dearly for it.

Because he's FIVE. And he's only going to be FIVE once. And it's going to go by so, so fast... I only have to look at Super Girl to see just how fast it goes. She was 4 when I married her father; she'll be 13 in less than 2 months.

So even if we're late for school once in awhile, or I have to ask him TWO dozen times to get dressed, I need to remember to stop and smell the roses and enjoy it. All of it - the good, the bad, and the annoying.

I also need to get a little bit tougher with this child o' mine. He's the kid who still climbs into bed to be by Mommy EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. So, we put him in his bed after he falls asleep; he wakes up an hour later and, with super stealth, comes right back in so I wake up to find him nestled beside me with drool on his cheek and crazy, sweaty curls framing his angelic little face.

Make no mistake: it's not sweet Super Man who gives in to this nonsense - it's me. It's allll me. And it's gotta stop.

I know WHY I allow it: Because he is my ONLY child, and he may REMAIN my only child if Mother Nature continues to be uncooperative. I do it because I can't bear the thought of him getting older and not WANTING to still snuggle with me - I feel like I have to soak it up as much as I can now. I do it because I love him, with all my heart, and I enjoy being close to him just as much as he enjoys being close to me.

Just for fun, I also want to implement a NEW thing in my relationship with Super Boy: Once each week, I am going to set aside time where we will do something of HIS choosing, whether I feel like doing that thing or not. I feel like I dictate way too much of our time together, either because of errands that need to be done or the weather or whatever.

I know this frustrates Super Boy a lot of the time, but being the sweet-natured and easy-going kid that he is, he usually rolls with it. I want him to have this special time carved out to direct as he pleases. I think that's important.

4. In the words of my hilarious Super Brother T, "Get a J-O-B!"

I think this one is pretty much in the bag. But yeah, it's about time for me to reclaim the role of "wage-earning spouse" in this household. While we're doing fine at the mo and all is well on the job and financial fronts for the most part, Super Man is getting restless about crazy things like retirement (and, alright, who can blame him given the current economy), so this will bring his blood pressure back down to a normal range and allow him to worry about other things instead. Like finishing the partial remodel he's decided to do in our kitchen.

Frankly, I'm ready to be doing something more with myself again, with Super Boy in full day school and now that the holidays are behind us. And I would love to have my own paycheck again. Dear lord, would I love that....

The thing I'm looking to do would give me TOTAL flexibility: I could work from home, I could work as few or as many hours a week as I want to, I'd be fully set-up and trained by someone who is already a pro, and I'd still be able to help out in Super Boy's class and have a few hours to myself each day.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

5. Grow and expand my writing ventures.

This means: FINISH THE DAMN BOOK ALREADY!!!

It also means: Make - and stick to - a posting schedule on this blog AND on the TMG blog. Submit a few articles to magazines.

Think of how nice it would be to make actual money doing this thing that I LOVE to do (instead of just doing SOMETHING for pay), and remember that every time I feel lazy and uninspired.

Inspiration is everywhere - if I can't find something to write about, then I'm clearly not paying close enough attention to the world I move around in every day.

6. Figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

This one kind of speaks for itself. My biggest passions (aside from my family) are writing and reading. Can I make a career of them? I don't know.

If it means I have to go back to school to be what I want to be when I grow up, then fine. This is the time to consider doing just that.

I just need a plan. A girl with a plan is a powerful thing.

7. Volunteer in the community.

I used to be better about this. I still volunteer, but it's pretty much solely limited to things in and related to Super Boy's school. That's great, but I have the time and talents to do something more. So I just want to find one thing more to focus on volunteer-wise in my community to make it a better place.

One thing is manageable.

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That's it. Those are my big rocks for 2009.

I welcome feedback on them, by the way. I also welcome you, fellow Super Women and Super Men, to share YOUR New Year's Resolutions. Let's discuss them, let's dissect them - and let's ACCOMPLISH them!

Happy New Year to you all, and THANK YOU for being faithful readers. Love you guys. ;)

Super Woman

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