Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Years and years of church drilled a lot into my brain. Some of it is hard to shake. I grew up Roman Catholic. Mass is very serious. So are sins. The idea of going to confession still makes me shudder. Alone, in a dark room, talking to a priest through a tiny screened window, telling him all the bad things a third grader could do was torture. Sheer torture.

 And then, I remember being given a few prayers to say, and when I completed the task, like a spell, my sins would be washed away. Poof! I felt lighter leaving church. Like a brand new person. A fresh start. Even if a mean thought about my mom's dinner crept into my mind, I would quickly push the thought away. I was brand new. I didn't want my soul to become tarnished again.

I have always thought of New Years Eve as a sort of do-over, since I was old enough to confess my sins. A fresh start. Out with the old, in with the new. Whatever I did wrong, or didn't do at all in 1985 didn't matter, because 1986 was going to be my year! And if it didn't happen in 1986, 1987 was really going to be the year that I shined. When the decade ended, and the 90's began, I remember my mother telling me that whoever I am with at midnight, will be the one I spend the next ten years with.

Bad advice to give a young girl, madly in love with her high school boyfriend, who really, just didn't have the same feelings in return. What followed was a near decade of disappointment, waiting for that stroke of the clock, and date change to deliver. I made sure we were together, as the new decade came in, but the spell didn't work. And each year, and many nights spent alone, I would think that I still had a shot. The old year...good riddance. Here is my newer, fresher, untarnished year. This will be my time to shine.

Now, in the happiest point of my life, I don't quite view the New Year as I once did. For a little while, I secretly made promises to myself to eat better, and finally start something that resembled an exercise habit. I vowed that I would finally get organized, and stop throwing more crap in the already crapped up crap drawers.

 Then when things got really hard for us financially, I would say to David that this was really going to be our year. When he had no job, and I was pregnant with our third baby, I prayed that our ship would finally come in. I thought, please, let 2009 be better than 2008. I crossed my fingers, and whispered a plea as the ball dropped.

But I have come to realize that there are no fresh starts. The spell of a bad year won't suddenly be lifted, like my sins, prayed away with some penance. It is all one big life. Messy, and some days really bad. Really heartbreaking, and stressful. But some days, it makes me gasp, with it's pure beauty. To have another day, here, with my family is all I want. To freeze time, and keep my little girls this little, can't happen. Each New Year, now brings some anxiety for me. Everyone is growing up, so fast. It can't be stopped.

This New Years, we will be home, together, as we always are. And I won't be making any promises to myself that I can't keep. Except maybe to stop, and be present. All I have is right now. But there are little things I can do. Like lighting more candles. Or not rolling my eyes when David lets the girls eat pizza for breakfast. Saying yes more, because it is so much easier to say no. Learn to bake bread, and pie crust. Give my time freely to others. Let my girls put posters on their bedroom doors, even though I think it looks tacky. Pet the dog every once in a blue moon, instead of being annoyed by her. Take walks in the woods without thinking we are going to get chased by bears. Love more. Expect nothing.

Instead of wishing time to pass, I want it to slow down.

 I am going to keep it simple. And enjoy every stinking second of this one life that I have. The good, and the bad.

 I spent so many years waiting to shine, and I never noticed that I already am.

Happy New Year.