The past two weeks were nice. Really nice. I would even say that I just had one of my best Christmas breaks ever.
I'm sure that seems strange to those of you who know me well since this Christmas was the first since both my parents passed away. Last Christmas, six months after the death of my dad, was so hard. Watching my mom's health take a steep nose dive while taking the brunt of the rage she felt over my dad's death (well, my sister got her fair share of that too) made last Christmas break one of the most difficult two weeks of my life. I feel guilty for saying that this Christmas was better than last, than when my mom was with us, but it was.
This year, while I missed them both, the sadness was sort of an undercurrent and what I felt strongest was just...calm. Everyone here had colds...just passed it right around the family. Nothing serious but just enough to slow us down, keep us home. We hung out in our pajamas until lunch, we threw out the usual schedules and just went with it. This is not like me, I LIKE ME A GOOD SCHEDULE, but it was a nice change. We took a four day road trip to walk around the mission the 4th grader was assigned (we live in a town with a mission but no...that would be too easy) and the kids were just so easy to travel with. They slept well, for the most part they got along, no one needed diapers or special food or a special bed. We were able to see things and eat food that all of us could enjoy, not just the short set. I was relaxed and dealt with inevitable bumps that came our way in a calm and pleasant manner. If the three year old wanted to spend breakfast looking at the giant fish in the hotel pond instead of eating then whatever...I just gave him a banana in the car later. Even though the trip brought another round of colds to the family for the new year, we used that time to put Christmas away and putter around the house in sweats and get ready for real life to start back up.
The kids went back to school this morning and it is almost 10 am so that means I've been back to my real life for all of 4 hours and I can already feel my sense of calm slipping away.
Wait! Come back! Come back magic bubble of calm. Come back the relaxed me who had perspective, who could go with the flow. Come back version of me that didn't say things like " Go brush your teeth. Seriously, you need to go brush your teeth. Brush. Your. Teeth. BRUSH YOUR TEETH WE HAVE TO LEAVE IN FIVE MINUTES ARE YOU KDDING ME WHY DO YOU MAKE MY VOICE GET LIKE THIS GO BRUSH YOUR TEETH AAARGGGGGHHH!!!"
I can't do anything about real life. It is what it is. There is (almost) always going to be someplace we have to be or a dozen things that need to get done. So my goal for 2012 is to hold onto the calm relaxed me...even just a little bit of her. Real life being what it is, our need to be at school by 8 isn't going anywhere. My only option is to change things about myself and the way I view the situation. For two weeks my voice didn't get LIKE THIS ARRRGGGHHH! and it was nice. I look at this list of resolutions not so much as a list of things I have to do or should do but as a list of tools to help me be that lovely mother and wife I was when I was calm. I WANT TO BE THAT LADY...SHE WAS NICE. My family probably wants her back too.
(Before #1). Focus more on God: I am adding this in later from my phone because I can't believe I forgot it. Christmas is all about God and we spent more time than usual praying and talking about God. Maybe that had something (everything) to do with the calm! Duh.
1. Be purposeful about how I spend my evenings: Over break I did not automatically have the TV on after the kids went to bed. I turned it on if there was a movie or something I really wanted to watch but fairly often I chose to do something else instead. I got a lot done. It was quiet. It was productive. It was relaxing.
2. Listen to more music: I listend to a lot of music while we were home during vacation and rediscovered Pandora. I don't always remember to turn on music but I should more often. There is not a better (cheap, legal, non-addictive, healthy) mood altering substance out there than music unless it is #3...
3. Exercise. It is a cliche, I know, but it works. Go to the Y...which leads me to #4...
4. Leave the house in the evenings:. In the winter when it gets dark earlier I convince myself that if it is dark it is too late/not worth it to leave the house. Untrue! 7pm in the winter is the same as 7pm in the summer, just darker. Go out. Go to the Y, go to a movie, go to adoration, go to a bookstore, go meet a friend for coffee...just go. Over Christmas break I had to go out in the evenings when I could leave the boys with thier dad to do some holiday shopping and it was a good break to be out on my own. Keep doing that.
5. Come home after preschool drop off: I have such a limited time alone that often I feel I have to run all over town to get stuff done while they are at school. If I spend some time at home focusing on things here, however, the rest of the day and the rest of the week go much better which leads me to #6...
6. Plan: Dinner is not just going to happen so stop being surprised every afternoon at 5 when nothing magically appears (same goes for breakfast and lunch, by the way). That feeling of "Shouldn't someone have thought of this earlier and defrosted some chicken or something?"...the answer is yes. Yes, YOU should hae thought of it earlier.
7. Plan for the fun stuff too: Plan vacations, big ones and long weekends, with the girls or with the family. Plan date nights. Plan Girl's Night Outs and Girl's Night In and play dates and to have friends over for dinner. Do not fail to plan them and then be grumpy that I never get to do these things. They are almost as much fun to plan and look forward to as they are to do. Always have something in the works!
8. Drink more water.
10. Practice random good deeds when the opportunity presents itself: I got this idea from Swistle.
11. Always have a book to read. I am an introvert. I live in a family of five and someone almost always needs something from me. This is the best way to escape into my own head that I know. When I don't have a book to read I get very grumpy.
12. Christmas shop all year long: One of the reasons that our break was so relaxing this year was that most of the mandatory Christmas type stuff (like heavy-duty shopping) was done and I could concentrate on the more fun things that I like/wanted to do (stocking-stuffer shopping). I'm hoping that this will help make next Christmas break relaxing too, minus all the colds this time.