Somehow, somewhere, I caught the resolution bug early in life. Not from my parents, that's for sure.
"Dad, did you encourage me to write down New Year's resolutions when we were growing up?"
"No, it doesn't make sense to me. People never keep those things anyway."
And my mom sat there, nodding her head in agreement.
Back in middle school, I would write down my resolutions on a piece of paper and store it in the small, green, metal combination-safe that I kept in my closet. I would peek at the resolutions a few times early on in the year making sure I was on track; then I'd wait until December 30, when I'd pull out my list and give myself a grade for the year. Most years, I got a B because one resolution (never more than two) would have escaped my mind. I would spend all day on December 31st revising, revamping and upgrading my resolutions for the upcoming year. One year, I even added a blank line beside each resolution so I could record the day I accomplished it.
In college, I spiced up my resolutions ritual by writing letters to myself. I would date the letter one year in the future and discuss how I'd felt after accomplishing each of my goals. I would include glowing accolades like, "What a great speech you gave at the Freshman Welcome!" and "That short hair cut looks so cute on you." I loved looking into my future and casting out big hopes for the upcoming year.
Once I was married, I tried to get my husband on the resolution bandwagon, but to no avail. I actually started to feel a little childish, since I always put so much emphasis on the last few days of the year. Once I became a mother, my resolution ritual pretty much faded.
Well, "faded" probably isn't the best word. "Metamorphosed" is more like it. Having children made me more reflective and more obsessed with trying to make their world a perfect place, so I went from Things I'd Like to Do this Upcoming Year to Things I Wish My Parents Would Have Done... Ugggh. I must have been reading too many fairy tales when I came up with some of the stuff on the list, like "Write letters to each of the children every year on their birthday telling them how much they've grown and changed, and give them the 18 letters when they graduate from college." I haven't even written all the thank-yous for my wedding gifts and that was almost 14 years ago (not someting I'm proud of, believe me), so what was I thinking?
Another goal — "Take a summer and a winter family vacation where we cover every state in the United States" — was one my parents nearly accomplished when we were growing up. But life was simpler then. Now our big family has to rent two hotel rooms or stay in timeshares whenever we go on vacation. Plus, my husband hates eating at a restaurant more than once, so I would have to cook every day. Does that sound like a vacation?
Once I reached number 217 on the list, I stopped. I had a great life, I decided, and my children would have a great life, too, even without me pressuring myself to be perfect.
So, what do I do now? I have one thing that I set out to accomplish every year, and that one thing gets checked off of my Life List. Yes, I decided to create a Life List, and for the first time, I've encouraged my children to do the same. I suggested they keep it simple, make it what they really want in life. But they didn't even want to write it down, let alone type it up and put it in a sealed envelope to be opened next January as I'd proposed. This year, I decided to take my own resolutions visual, creating a huge collage and hanging it up in my office. I excitedly shared my plan with my 12-year-old, hoping my enthusiasm would be infectious. Her response: "Mommy, that's cool for you, but I don't have resolutions."
I guess the resolution revolution starts and stops with me.