I've been having a lot of trouble with the whole resolutions thing this year. I'm not so much bothered by whether or not I'll actually be able to keep any resolutions that I might make; I tend to think that the act of identifying things that I want to work on and vowing to do so is far more valuable than my eventual success or failure. (Empty rationalization? Maybe. So what?) What really bothers me is that I can't seem to come up with a single resolution this year. Not one.
January is a funny time for me because it marks not only the beginning of another new year but the anniversary of my departure from the work force. With the flipping of the calendar this morning, I have officially been home for four years. That's four years of jeans and sweatshirts instead of suits and blouses. Four years of negotiating with creatures half my size instead of executives half my intellect. Four years of playdates instead of meeting. Four years of pb&j instead of business lunches. Four years of being caught up in an insular little world in which that the vast majority of society has little interest or involvement.
For the most part, it's been good. I certainly wouldn't trade any of it, though I'm frankly relieved that certain portions of those past four years are now long since behind me. But four years into the game, I'm just starting to feel pretty ho hum about the whole thing, and that's never been more clear than when I sat down to think about my New Year's resolutions.
The "Mommy" resolutions -- to yell less or interact more or try some new parenting technique? I think I'm past them. Yes, I could certainly stand to yell less and I could probably stand to interact more. But at this point in the game, I'm pretty much coming to accept that the kind of parent I'm destined to be is fairly established at this point. I am who I am. My relationship with my kids is what it is. Some days, that's a wonderful thing to be able to say. Sometimes, it's something I mutter under my breath as I struggle against the tide of my day. But for the good and the bad, I don't see myself changing as a parent much in the coming year. I will no doubt evolve along with my children and I will grow and change as they grow and change. But the big, bold resolution-worthy changes? Not likely.
So, the "me" resolutions then. Last year, I resolved to write more and to seek published outlets for my work. Big fat waste 'o time, that resolution. Not that it wasn't a good one -- it was -- but clearly, something was holding me back from pursuing that goal. A resolution wasn't enough to get me off my duff, and I spent a good portion of the year feeling guilty and conflicted about that. No point in wasting my time feeling guilty and conflicted, not when those emotions don't spur me on to reach my goal. So I won't be bothering with that resolution again this year. I'll write when I'm ready. Maybe it will happen this year and maybe it won't, but as the past year clearly showed, a resolution isn't going to make an iota of difference in this area of my life.
A different direction then, perhaps. I could resolve to do more things for myself outside of parenting or to pursue volunteer opportunities that make good use of my underutilized, molding professional skills. Both would be good for me on a personal level, and one of these resolutions would even benefit the world at large. But when I try to think of what exactly I might do, nothing appeals and the excuses just flow too freely. "I'm not going to end up doing that because (fill in the blanks here). This is not the year for that." My litany of refusal and rebuttal downright depresses me. No dice there.
So what, then, is this the year for? I'm not new to the parenting thing any more and I can see the next year of my life stretching out before me as clearly as if I'd lived it already, which in a sense, I have. There will be new crises and challenges, of course, but the day to day chauffeuring and refereeing and making of grilled cheese sandwiches is bound to have a ring of the familiar to it. At the same time, I can not think of a single thing that I could be doing outside of parenting to expand my creative or intellectual or even selfishly personal horizons which ignites even a spark of interest right now. I don't want to take classes at my community college or look for freelance work or volunteer to run the carnival at my kids' school. I don't want to take up knitting or scrapbooking or join the League of Women Voters. I've got bubkes. And that, I have to say, is a pretty uninspiring way to start a new year: boring and bored.
So after much thought and contemplation (are these one and the same?), I've decided that my New Year's resolution is to seek out inspiration. I don't know what kind of inspiration I'm looking for, exactly; just something that will light a fire in me again. It could be the personal kind or the professional kind or even the Mommy kind of fire; I'm not really sure what form it will end up taking and at the moment, I'm not sure I particularly care. But I resolve to know it when I see it. Perhaps, I will do something about it right then and there. Perhaps, if it is the really big kind of inspiration, it will be something I will resolve to actively pursue when New Year's Day rolls around again next year. It doesn't really matter to me, provided I can at least find a path this year which will lead me down the road to interested and interesting again. Finding the goal? That is my goal for 2006.
This is either the lamest resolution I've ever made or the most brilliant. But if I can manage to keep it, I suspect I'll be a happier person in 2006 and, by extention, a better parent, partner and friend. It's the journey, not the destination that matters with this particular resolution. And perhaps, with that in mind, I'll be better able to enjoy the ride.