52 Things in 2023...Maybe. If I Can.
Updated: Jan 7
I am a woman who has forever and always suffered more from JOMO than FOMO. I do not crave going out and being seen. I do not crave being liked, being the center, or being invited to everything. I feel honored, maybe even flattered, but I also feel a little uneasy, because truth? My preferred drink is coffee, and I get tired early. And most people do not. I am a 38-year-old who would eat dinner at 4 pm every day if I could. I would have all social events by 2 pm, and be home and ready for quiet time by 8, latest. So, you can see that social time is hard to come by using those parameters, unless I'm with my parents:)
Which brings us to this year's title. How do we read that? What does it mean? A few options:
I will only do 52 things in 365 days. Those people who actually know me are probably like, yea, that sounds about right. How else would she be in her Crocs and socks by 5:30 every night? (When you're right, you're right.)
I will make 52 improvements in 365 days. Fuck that; self-improvement is not a competition, and I am not a masochist. Also, see above. There is literally no world in which this will happen for me. I need those days of Crocs and socks.
The last, and intended, meaning: 52 weeks. 365 days. 1 interruption a week.
For those of you who live in chaos, you are dumbfounded that I have to even mention this. I can practically hear my sister Bri hyena-laughing as she prays for only one interruption a week. Seriously, I bet she's dropped her phone she's so wracked with laughter. But, she has 3 boys, 2 dogs, ten chickens, a full-time job, ridiculous dreams of making her family happy and well-rounded, and a million obligations she never feels like she can say no to. (I literally don't understand this--I say no more than any other word during the week. Want to get together tonight? On a Monday? Heavens, no. Will you come to my basketball game? Is it at 4 pm? No? Then no. Want to join my club/group/social place where we meet and share fun activities once a month? Hell no. But, gosh, have so much fun and thank you for inviting me.)
Alas, herein lies my problem. It's easy to say no. Too easy, if I'm reflecting honestly, and since it's a new year, honesty is where it's at (until Livvy asks for a kitty again, and we revert back to the answer that Old Man River is allergic...which he is, just to the idea of a cat, not to actual cats). I am a woman who has built her life on routine. I don't know if it's a latent reaction to the fact that I am the youngest of three, and any time-frame I had in my childhood and young adult years hinged on the timeliness of my aforementioned older sister, Bri, who, even at 42, thinks that leaving 7 minutes before an event that is twenty minutes away is an acceptable schedule. Or that making a "quick-stop" for coffee when the drive-thru is ten deep and you're already 5 minutes late for your ETA is an okay decision.
Whether it was that, or the near-military like schedule my middle sister implemented when she took over driving duties, at 38, I am a woman who likes to know exactly what is going to happen at each minute of each day. I make a menu, I meal-prep, I have a desk calendar, a wall calendar, a color-coded fridge calendar, and all of it backed up on my phone-calendar, which updates my watch. Yes, I only have one child, one dog, and a husband who does a lot of the heavy lifting in our lives, but what I learned in my early twenties when I was struggling to go to school full time, while teaching full time, and coaching a new sport each season so I could pay my rent AND buy groceries each month (heyo) was that if I scheduled my day, there was no surprise. If my bank account was going to get down to ten dollars (or less, because you know, rent AND groceries), I was going to be prepared for it. And this was necessary. When my life changed and we had Olivia, the need for a schedule was run for an entirely different reason: sleep. Any parent who judges you for skipping happy-hour because of nap time can go fuck themselves. If you become a hermit because it gives you an expected 2-3 hours of quiet time to clean, take a shower, or just sit in the relative quiet and feel its bliss, more power to you.
But...but. Your kids will eventually grow up and out of nap time. They will adapt to being shuttled from one place to the next without resetting, from doing an activity or seven each week, socializing over the weekend; they will actually thrive because of it. Their minds, their bodies, and their emotions need chaos as much as they need structure. And so do we. Looking back at 2022 specifically, I have come to see that while my daughter has grown, my routine has not. In fact, it's become deeper, into, dare I say, a rut. And wow, that hurt to put into the universe. But I think maybe it's supposed to, maybe even needs to, so I can see how important it is to change. Or at least try.
Every Christmas, Old Man River and I give each other a limit for gifts. We do this because, A) we spend on activities all year, so in essence, Christmas is for spoiling each other, not for mundane every day things, and B) we aren't made of money. Duh. Gotta save in that retirement. I digress. This year, River killed it. He surprised me in everything I opened, how clever the gifts were, how much they spoke to him watching me throughout the year, making note of things I love and maybe mention a time or seven. And I...did not. He won't say this. In fact, he got a wee bit exasperated with me when I was the one to acknowledge it. Which is so him; Christmas truly is about giving for River. We are lucky if we make it to you Dec. 24. There have been years when I've come home and he's been waiting with the gifts on Dec. 8, too excited to not give them to me. And usually, I try to match this. Be creative. Spontaneous. Loving. But this year, looking back, I treated Christmas like a list, and it makes my heart hurt to see that. To reflect and know that I didn't look around, didn't try to squeeze that budget and get him that one really exciting thing he won't ever think to get himself, simply because Howler Bros was having a sale and they are an easy go-to. Bing, bang, done. Until Christmas Eve, when I saw him open the same thing I got him last year, just updated, and it hit me, I turned my rut into our rut. And I didn't give him the Christmas he deserved--not because of the gift, but because of the effort.
And so, here I am, starting my first of 52 weeks. And holy Jesus does that look daunting. But less so than it did a month ago, when I didn't know I was in my rut and no was just another easy thing to say. An expected thing. Because no doesn't make me push, doesn't make me try or change or grow. I've always attributed growth to big changes or adventures: moving, having a baby, publishing a book, learning to mountain-bike...things that are physically hard, but right within my comfort zone. Reaching out...adjusting my routine for the week, possibly *gulp*, "going with the flow"....those are real challenges for me. And ones I'm committed to in 2023. Ones I hope will make me a better partner, parent, and person.
To all of you, happiest new year. Maybe your reflection was a bit kinder than mine, and you're goal is to slay this year like you did the last. Hell yeah. If you're changing, adjusting, making some movement in your rut, your routine, or even just your attitude, hats off. We got this (maybe...and maybe you have a day where, to hell with it, you just need those Crocs, time be damned).
Happy 2023, loves. Let's make it an adventure.