Tag Archives: goals

giving up the ghost

Oddly enough, one of the biggest things that scares me about having a baby is feeling like I’m going to have to stop improving myself. Most of my life seems to be spent “working on” goals that I never achieve. Losing weight, making art, working on the house, cooking more, keeping the house clean, become proficient in something. As it is I constantly feel like I’m getting nowhere with these things, and now throw a baby into the mix and my goals are going to be absurdly out of reach. I know it will only be temporary, but “temporary” could mean five or ten years for all I know.

But even if I weren’t having a baby, I’m not sure it would mean getting any closer to these goals, which is so frustrating. Why are they so elusive? Why can’t I seem to stick to anything? I guess I never followed in the great “getting things done” tradition of SMART goals – it’s 7am so don’t ask me to remember what that acronym stands for, but I know the M stands for “measurable”, which I’ve never done. “Lose weight” isn’t a goal – “lose ten pounds by April 30th” is. Another issue is that I take on too much – I get so excited about my goals that I make too many of them and that in itself is setting myself up for failure. I know that I need to focus on one or two things at a time, but the thought of leaving the other 20 things by the wayside freaks me out, and I can’t seem to even choose the one or two MOST important things. I suppose maybe the point isn’t to completely leave the other things untouched, but at least to commit to the top one or two and work on the rest whenever I feel like it.

The thing about having a baby is that you’re absolutely surrounded by a culture of mommy martyrs who would laugh at the idea that you would have time to do ANYTHING but fulfill your child’s every need 27 hours a day, 9 days a week. And I obviously know that the first few months that’s probably true. But I never understand all these drastic statements like, “Taking a five minute shower is a complete luxury and I get to do it once a week.” Like, is that really a thing? I’m sure I’ll live to eat my words, but I just refuse to believe that a baby is literally a 24-hour-a-day time suck, and that it will be ten years before you’ll be able to go to the bathroom with the door closed. Is it really true, or have we just become such a culture of extremists that we feel the need to make this basic process of species propagation into something more complicated than it needs to be just to validate our existence?

Sometimes when I get in a panic about this, I try to think about artists and how they raise their children. I follow a few bloggers who have children, and the kids don’t seem to take front and center, at least on their blogs. They are prolific and make things and take beautiful photographs and talk about things that aren’t E.R. visits and poopy diaper stories. I guess thus far I don’t get the appeal in that stuff. One of my most hated things is internet meme’s describing life “before kids” and “after kids”, because it seems to just reinforce the idea that once you have kids, your life basically sucks forever, and I just don’t see the humor in that or the benefit of perpetuating it. Not to say that I won’t find humor in things once they’re happening, but if I’m going to go to the trouble of posting something funny on Facebook it’s going to be like a Louie C.K. clip and not something about how your Christmas tree looks before and after you have kids.

I think artists start out as somewhat selfish – you would really have to be in order to spend your life doing something self-indulgent like making art. And don’t get me wrong, I mean that in the best of ways, which is what is so wonderful about art – you’re really doing it for no other real reason other than to make yourself happy, and if other people get enjoyment out of it all the better. So I think they’re a good model to look at with having children, because they seem to be able to balance it and not give into the temptation of making your children your entire existence and identity.

I could seriously go on and on about this, but it’s time to get up and get ready for work. Getting out of bed at 7:38, what a luxury for all the moms out there, amiright?!?

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don’t fence me in

I’ve been realizing that I have a problem with commitment.  True, I’m married, and I co-own my own house, both of which are 30+ year commitments if you do it right.  But somehow they seem easier than everyday commitments.  The second I feel that I’m expected to do something, I get claustrophobic and back away slowly, regardless of how much my life might benefit.  

Case in point: Church.  A few weeks ago Greg mentioned that the book he’s reading about transcendentalism has made him revisit the idea of joining the Unitarian church.  Church has been a subject that I come back to periodically but never pull the trigger on.  Growing up, my mother was a Jehovah’s Witness, so we would go to meetings when I was very young, but please don’t ask me anything about it because I really have no idea what it’s all about, as the stories I hear about it don’t quite fit with my all-singing all-dancing all-christmas-and-birthday celebrating upbringing.  So nowadays when I find myself in church for some special occasion, I get sweaty and freaked out because I have the distinct sense that everyone in the room knows exactly what’s going on except me.  Of course that feeling tends to extend to every other area of my life as well, so maybe this isn’t just a church thing.

Anywhoo, I do feel like I missed out on a shared cultural experience growing up.  I’m not one for organized religion, as it seems to do more harm than good, but certainly the sense of community people seem to feel is worthwhile.  I’ve thought about going to Quaker meetings, although the idea of having to actually participate instead of passively sitting there in the back listening to a sermon goes against my lazy side (as does getting up early on Sundays).  But it’s a new year and I’m trying to start up some good stuff, so when Greg brought up the Unitarian thing I jumped on it. A little too quickly, actually, since it turned out he was only marginally serious and got very hesitant when my immediate reaction was, “Great idea, let’s go on Sunday.”  

After finding an excuse not to go that Sunday, we actually manned up and went last week.  It helped to grease the wheels a bit with a promise of breakfast at Little Pete’s afterward.  But we went, and it was slightly awkward but ultimately a very good experience.  Still though, even as I was sitting there mentally patting myself on the back for actually making it there, I started to get panicked.  Would we really be expected to show up to this place EVERY Sunday?!  What about leisurely breakfast and coffee at Black ‘n Brew?  What about recovery time for a crazy Saturday night? What about having to shower and take the dog out instead of watching CBS Sunday Morning?  Oh and I can just forget about Face the Nation right now, because we need to be out the door by 10:30 which leaves NO time for my friend Bob Schieffer.  Oh and let’s not forget the little matter of the pamphlet suggesting a member contribution of 5% of yearly gross salary (Why gross?!  Isn’t net enough for you people??).  So even as I felt all warm and fuzzy and spiritual, I started to see all that time and money going down the drain.  

I know that ultimately joining the church would be incredibly fulfilling.  I always say that I feel that we lead a small and insulated life, and becoming a part of the Unitarian church would mean a community, and service opportunities, and spiritual enrichment that books and meditation alone can’t get us.  And as I said to Greg, if our beliefs are going to jive with ANY church, this one is it.  And yet it’s this stifling sense of commitment and expectation that I can’t seem to get past. “Sitting in church for an hour and a half EVERY Sunday??  Even though more often than not I’d be spending that time in my pajamas instead of doing anything worthwhile?  Even though it carries with it qualities that I’ve been searching for, including community and spiritual enlightenment?  Meh.”

Dear skinny jeans…

image

I will wear you on February 1st.

I make entirely too many resolutions every year, none of which I follow through with. Therefore this year, I’m trying to tone it down a bit. If I can just focus on one or two resolutions obsessively, chances are I’ll be more likely to actually fulfill them.

So rather than the ubiquitous “lose weight” resolution that I’ve made every year for the last 25 years, I’m simplifying it a bit. I bought these jeans ages ago and technically they fit me (or did three weeks ago before I decided to go for broke with my holiday eating), but I’m unsure about the integrity of the button when I pour myself into them. Therefore I’m focusing for right now simply on a January resolution to fit into them *comfortably*. Now these jeans are still a larger size than I find ideal, so it’s not like that will be the end of my struggle. But it will be an important step, and fits that whole SMART theory of goals (Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, Tangible) that I’m always reading about in my schmillion self-help books.

Wish me luck.