the lessons of 2016

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2016 felt like one long giant kick in the balls but, hey, I made it! WE MADE IT! It an effort to remain grateful for even the most gratuitous moments the last year graced me and my family with, I am putting forth as much effort I can muster to appreciate the lessons it taught me. So, without further ado, here is what I learned while doubled over in the fetal position...

  1. Change is almost always good but it is not always easy to embrace or adjust to. 
  2. No one is immune to experiencing the many ebbs and flows of life. All in due time. 
  3. Some years, there will be more ebbing than flowing and that shit will be hard but just know that life has a way of balancing itself out.  
  4. Some days, the kids being fed, warm, and alive is enough. Any self-imposed goals of a day free of tantrums or an adequate consumption of leafy green food will have to fuck themselves back into a Pepperidge Farm non-organic goldfish box where they belong. 
  5. Being tired turns me into an asshole, my kids into tyrants, and my husband into a very scared, emotionally abused man.
  6. Even mommy throws tantrums and even your kids wake up in bad moods for no other reason than wanting to piss you off. Tomorrow is a new day to try harder to not be an asshole. 
  7. Empathy involves listening without speaking, holding space for someones' pain without negating it, and reminding them that they are not alone in their struggle. Life is isolating enough-- hard enough-- without making someone feel terrible for simply being human.  
  8. A great number of people are addicted to outrage. Coincidentally, a great number of people are assholes. 
  9. Anyone who makes you feel like you have to prove your worth is the one guilty of proving that they aren't worthy. I should not and will not justify the degree to which I've only proven I'm human because it makes you feel better about your own lack of humanity. 
  10. Never say never because swallowing those words taste a whole lot more like vinegar than they do honey. Especially when those words begin with "When I'm a parent, I'll never do...." 

 

a look back at 2016 + intentions for the new year

Commissioned painting of our family done by my incredibly talented and dear friend,  Emily . You can see the colorful version of the painting  here.

Commissioned painting of our family done by my incredibly talented and dear friend, Emily. You can see the colorful version of the painting here.

Do you, like me, roll your eyes the moment someone declares the upcoming year to be THE year they embrace a new, better, healthier version of themselves? I mean, it's well-intentioned, of course. It's just that that kind of declaration is bound to set you up for failure. Living under the impression that all one needs is the turn of a calendar page to miraculously possess the discipline to do whatever it is you're convinced you need to do differently from years past seems kind of ridiculous. Does January 1st demand something different from us than... say... June 13th?

 

I digress.

 

I will admit that I do appreciate any opportunity to reflect. I also find it a healthy dose of perspective to process where I've stood, where I'm currently standing, and where I'd like to be. As I look back on 2016, I have ultimately decided that 2016 mostly felt like a battle of extremes where the majority of my energy was devoted to adjusting and assisting the girls' adjustment from our move from NY back to NC. It was a foggy, messy, blur of a process, of which I'm not all-together confident is actually over. When I wasn't explaining to Marlo why "I was the worst person in the world for moving her away from her best friends and favorite playground" (yes, that was an actual reoccurring conversation), I was merely trying to survive a level of physical exhaustion I've yet to previously experience thanks to Edie's malfunctioning ear canals.

 

Coincidentally, 2016 was also the year that made me question if I was had any fucking clue whatsoever what I am doing as a parent. By mid-September, I came to the annoyingly obvious conclusion that I remain as moderately ill-equipped to be any of the things that are expected of me as a mom as I was before I actually birthed a human. How enlightening!

 

But I kept on keeping on, trying like hell to figure how to be the mom my girls needed me to be. And, though the process was painstakingly difficult and often punishingly futile, admitting to myself that I have approximately zilch figured out gave me the boost to keep pushing onward and upward. In my mind, if the job wasn't done, neither was I. 

 

I fucked up a lot in 2016, too.

 

I lost my temper over the most embarrassingly ridiculous things. I let the unimportant details of the everyday get the best of me. I wasn't always grateful. I threw tantrums and behaved like a brat. I let the poor behavior of others affect my emotional well being when they weren't even worth an ounce of my energy to begin with. I went against my better judgement which bit me in the ass EVERY SINGLE TIME. I didn't always give it all I've got to give because either a) I was too tired or b) I simply didn't want to. I wasn't always kind to myself nor did I give myself the amount of I grace I pass out to everyone else like candy. 

 

And, when you know better and choose to not do better, there are no worthy justifications or excuses. You just have to own the fucking up. 

 

Looking forward into the year ahead, I will make no grand declarations or bold statements about about what I hope 2017 to hold for me or my family. I only want to continue being the best possible version of myself/wife/mother/friend/daughter I can be because my people and I deserve that.

 

That means following my gut instincts instead of ignoring them, standing my ground when pressed to back down, giving my kids more space to be themselves and not allowing them to be shamed for being human, embracing the messiness of the everyday because the message lies somewhere deep within that mess, blocking out the noise of what others may think, accepting the crazy but not engaging it, giving myself permission to rest without the guilt trip, taking up verbal/physical/emotional space without apology, holding myself as accountable as I hold others, writing as often as I feel I have something to say, treating my body and mind as though I love myself because I do, and remaining grateful to wake up every morning and have the opportunity of living and loving the amazing, abundant, complicated, beautiful, messy life I am so, so fucking lucky to lead beside the three other souls in that picture.

 

Trying harder to be our best, even when the effort feels impossible or the outcome proves pointless, counts for something because continued effort in the face of obstacles fucking matters. That level of tenacity should be worn as a badge of honor because it sure as shit isn't easy. At the very least, the degree to which we put forth effort should be enough to detract from our endless list of shortcomings.... Right?!

 

Happy 2017, y'all. I hope it's a beautiful one.

christine x