As I sit here with my cup of coffee and Molly watching some riveting cartoon giving me some "me time” I ask myself - do I really want 2021 to start? Or maybe the better question is - how do I prepare myself for this new year like no other with all its unknowns and a glimmer of hope?
I came up with a list of musings. See, I can be productive before 8am!
1. Toss out the anxieties of 2020, the failed conversations and the petty arguments
Didn’t have any and have no idea what I am talking about? Lucky you! I think 2020 overwhelmed every aspect of our reserves of patience. I found myself breaking in ways that I never thought would be possible. Then I would proceed to beat myself up over the perceived failures. Remember I said last time that there is no manual for 2020 so then there are no benchmarks either. You made it through with your sanity! You are a star!
Strangely I have Dr Seuss’ wise words hung up in my kitchen with a truth that picked me up when I was down many times this year -
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”
Of course, say what you feel with the right moderation if it happens to be entirely contradictory to the feel of the room. We don’t want to start a war in times of such desperation.
So for 2021, shake it all off and look towards the rays of sunlight that emerge and focus on that. There will be clouds, there will be rain but let us try our best to focus on what we can change and gain comfort in the knowledge that if anything, 2020 has taught us to be resilient and kind as we have all been through such a great deal and climbed our own personal mountains.
As a working mom, my 2021 resolution is to maintain a better work-life balance. I’ve decided to merge our calendars into one so that we share in the duties together as a family and in the fun. Perhaps I will even be ambitious and plan in a 10 minute “family fun time” every day!
2. Clean up my closet and part with those clothes I haven’t worn in a year
You know I love giving stuff away, but I always find it hard to part with my clothes. I find it hard to break that imaginary emotional bond I have to each one when I know full well my waistline feels otherwise.
There are times I have even squeezed myself into something two sizes smaller to prove to myself that I can do it. By I can do it - I mean I tested myself on my ability to hold my breath throughout the length of time I wore the said piece of clothing with high emotional attachment. I also produced some magnificent welts the size of a string of eggplants all around my waistline!
I ask myself, what am I trying to prove? And to who?
Charlie always tells me if it doesn’t fit get one that does.
So, I take a deep breath and say goodbye to the pile of clothes that will be used by someone somewhere in a far better way.
3. Declutter my mind
2020 has really messed up my mind. You know just when you thought you could trust something, it lets you down!
My mind has done that several times this year. Like make me think Molly not wearing the outfit I picked out means she is growing into a disobedient child and therefore I need to set some clear rules about listening to me or else she will grow into a spoilt one.
Or the other day when Charlie asked why I had given Molly so many snacks that day, I instantly went into ninja attack mode which alerted his defence mechanisms and we argued about the nutritional value of every snack Molly had been given. Not sure what we decided in the end but we were not happy bunnies after that.
But it made me realise how anxious and insecure I had become. These were all everyday questions or things that came up. Yet in 2020 it has meant supercharged emotions come out to deal with these. I think it is a result of not letting my mind declutter because there are triggers in there that get activated for the silliest things nowadays.
I think the best way to declutter is to read a good, positive book or spend some time journaling, especially listing the things I am grateful for to put things into perspective.
4. Strategies to deal with the whining attacks
I am pretty sure this is 2020’s fault. Molly’s whining attacks are now more consistent and well-planned. She seems to know exactly when I am using all my brain cells to concentrate and then boom - it starts. I try to ignore and keep those brain cells working on the task at hand but it just increases in intensity.
I do remember all those strategies in the self-help books but sometimes I crack and the strategies float around me in the air and make me think that all this is somehow my fault as a bad parent.
Then in more sane moments I realise, it is not an easy year for Molly. She has me physically but not my full attention at most times.
“Use your nice voice, Molly, I can’t understand what you are saying?” I say after counting to ten (thousand)
Muffled whining continues…
“Molly, until you can speak clearly I am sorry I cannot help you.” I say and go back to concentrating on my work.
There’s an eerie silence. Then I realise she’s actually listened to me as for a good five minutes she has been perched silently on the edge of the bed. I feel a tug at my heartstrings.
“Do you need anything?” I ask
“I can’t find Flippy Mummy.” Molly says looking at me with her wide-eyes full of sadness.
As insignificant as Flippy is for me I know that on the contrary Flippy is her world, her world of control in this utter confusion that swirls around her. So I sigh and stop what I am doing and we spend the next half hour looking for Flippy (her grey bunny which I gifted to her last year). Of course Flippy eventually turns up near her bed which we had checked perhaps three times before that and we discovered her during our fourth sweep of the room.
I am pretty sure soft toys do come alive and hop and skip about when we aren’t looking just to mess with adult heads.
Note to self: remember more of the strategies to deal with whining and do not enter the full-on crazy mode. Also, put a GPS tracker on Flippy.
5. I will meditate, laugh more and aspire to eat healthier
When I say meditate I mean spend quiet time with myself. A friend gifted me a yoga frog a few years ago as a joke. But I love looking at it because it reminds me that I need to be more like that yoga frog. Molly and I even have an inside joke, when one of us gets mad we look at each other and say ‘be like yoga frog’ and then we burst into giggles.
It’s important to have something like that I think. Help keep us sane in these turbulent times. I definitely need to laugh more. I spend far too much time worrying.
Note to self: acquire joke book to lighten up serious conversations. Insert jokes at every possible opening. Activate fun spontaneous dance routines with Molly. Do not invite Charlie - his dance routines are from the 1920s.
As I now hear the birds chirping and Molly getting restless with her screen and needing some attention I realise that even if perhaps I’ve done some things wrong in 2020, there are also a lot of things I have done right. We have made it through one of the most difficult years in our lifetime and we have made it through with love.
In the end, 2020 has taught us the most important lesson of all - what matters most is relationships and love. Things are overrated but people and nature that is what has held us together.