Inbetween the Cooking, Resolving to Do it Right

Ah, a new year. The perfectionist’s dream come true. Totally clean slate, lists aplenty, and lots of fellow passengers on the get-‘er-done crazy train.

Truth be told, I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. I’m more a fan of deciding something needs to be done and then doing it, no matter the date. If you decide on March 18th that you need to watch less TV, then put that into effect on March 18th, not on Sunday (to start the week right), on Monday (if you’re a Monday-starter instead), or on Jan. 1. Just, you know, do it.

Nonetheless, I do tend to make a resolution or two. Last year I made exactly one, which was based on Philippians 4:11—I resolved to be content no matter my circumstances.

The resolution was meant to apply to the big things. Instead of bemoaning very real non-first-world-problems, I was to accept them in stride, recognizing them as part of a grand plan about which I can know nothing. Now, a year later, I can say that I followed this part of the resolution pretty well, and learned a thing or two about contentment, acceptance, trust, and faith along the way. I’m very happy with this, and I plan to keep this one going indefinitely.

But I can also see where I allowed my resolve to “be content” to take over the day-to-day of life, and how I somehow turned finding contentment in the big things to letting myself be lazy in the little things.

It started off slow. I’d catch myself getting upset that the craziness of life was taking over things—such as healthy meals, exercise, and routines for the kids—then I’d remind myself that it’s all part of life and that instead of stressing I should be content and go with the flow.

Some of this was good: I learned that it’s okay to use paper plates sometimes, even when guests come over, and that if life mandates that I use a store-bought pie crust or frozen biscuits, then so be it.

Some of this was not so good. I learned that, in the fatigue-induced haze of the middle years, I find it exceptionally easy to convince myself the kids don’t really need a bath every day every other day, and that given the overwhelming love of literature in our household, an hour hours of Baby TV probably won’t be too detrimental to the little guy.

So after 12 months of seeing how I balance going easy on myself with going too-easy on myself, I’m going to try a new way of doing things. I don’t know if you’d call this decision a “resolution,” so much as a column-style list of things broken down into what it’s okay to be a bit lax about and what it isn’t, and then living accordingly. For instance, if I don’t have time to read the 27 tabs that are open on my screen—generally consisting of humorous blog posts linked to by friends on Facebook—I think I can live guilt-free. If I don’t have time to listen to NPR while I make dinner, thus stopping me from keeping up with important news in the world, I may want to reprioritize a bit. If I haven’t bathed either kid in over a week, I’d say it’s time to reprioritize a lot.

My husband and I have a lot of good things coming up in 2014, most of which will probably end up being written about here. It’s going to be really easy to get overwhelmed, overworked, stressed out, and bogged down. That’s what the global we tend to do—take our blessings and make them self-inflicted curses of overwork. A good friend of mine wrote recently about this, reminding us all that we must enjoy our good things as gifts.

So in the end, if I have to make a list of resolutions, I think these are my three:

— keep the contentment ball rolling
— re-prioritize to give scarce energy to the important things and don’t feel guilty for neglecting the not-so-important things
— and enjoy my good things as gifts

Here’s hoping!