Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My New Year's resolution

Nothing like the holiday season to make me feel inadequate. The same magazines that assure me it's okay to simplify my holiday traditions also contain roughly 800 cookie recipes, scores of homemade gifts and do it yourself home makeovers, "just in time for Christmas". I'm glad I have approval from the mass media to scale back my holidays, lest I shop myself into a coma. For better or worse, I am the un-Martha, and so very unlikely to suffer from overdoing it. However much I say "I'll get around to it", I still suffer from Martha-envy, though, when I see these moms who have their act together. One woman I work with has a Christmas theme every year. In addition to her decorating, all her gifts center around the year's theme, say pirates or outdoor games. That's a level of committment I can't adhere to when I'm still shopping at 4pm Christmas eve.

It's not just Christmas. Throughout the year I promise myself that I'm going to be one of those moms who makes every meal from scratch. I try to believe that I will set aside one day a week to bake bread, or soup, or work on a craft project. In my free time I'll organize my closets, I tell myself, when in reality my free time is likely to be with a cup of coffee and book. My dissatisfaction goes even deeper, I'm afraid. I get jealous of those woman who run their families like a Swiss clock. I want to be one of those moms who puts the fear into their families with a look that says, "Do your chores. NOW." , while husband and kids go scurrying for the cleaning products. I want my schedule to be a model of efficiency, without a wasted moment. I want a house that glistens with cleanliness, where dog hair is nonexistent and toys are put away every evening. Then, when Christmas rolls around, I'll be the first to have my cards in the mail. Instead, on Christmas eve, I'm wrapping the presents hours before they'll be ripped open and putting on my makeup in the car on the way to Grandma's house.

Ah, who am I kidding. I am and always will be the mom who thinks cheese and crackers is a perfectly acceptable dinner option. I see nothing wrong with taking the kids out of school to spend the day in the city. If the only time I clean my house if before company comes, so be it. Once in a while, when I'm feeling especially motivated, I take all those cookie recipes, self help articles (The Pete Seeger Diet! How playing the banjo helped me lose 5 pounds!) and DIY projects, sort them into a neat pile and put them away in a drawer. Then I go back to my coffee and my book.

I guess my new New Year's resolution is that I'm going to like myself for who I am. If some miracle occurs and I become an organized, detail oriented, got-her-stuff-together type of woman-well, then I resolve to like that self too.

In the meantime, I look at my neighbors, one male and one female, who do seem to have their acts together. There yards are always raked, their recyclables are put out on the right days and so one. Neither one looks particularly happy. Coincidence? I'm not taking any chances.