Mom-101 had an intriguing post about the false hopes of new years resolutions. While I agree that there isn't anything magical about the calendar turning over that will suddenly transform you into a new person, I do find merit in the ritual of taking stock and making plans on a regular basis. I've tried doing resolutions on my birthday, or at the start of the academic year, but it just seems easiest to go with the crowd and do this in late December.
I think the problem people have with "resolutions" is that the word itself indicates an absolute commitment. And when that commitment isn't met, there is a sense of failure and then giving up. This tends to happen early on, because new habits are not formed instantaneously at 12:01 on January 1st. They form in fits and starts, with stumbling and getting back up again, and maybe maybe they will stick by March, or June, or October.
I'm thinking about this because, despite my resolve to "lighten up" and nurture my marriage, and be open to new things, this New Year's Eve and day were the worst I can remember in my life. And the reasons boil down to the same old same old issues I have with unspoken expectations, lack of communication, and a whole lot of inertia.
I thought we'd have a nice romantic date night in on NYE. Some wine, some food, some time to discuss our plans for the New Year and simply connect. But of course I never mentioned that to G. He wanted to watch a movie. I thought we could watch a shorter TV show and then talk. Instead we ended up watching 3 episodes of the show and neither of us got what we wanted. I went to bed at 11 because I was tired, and he stayed down to finally watch his movie. But when I got up to bed, I couldn't sleep. I was lonely and disappointed. I started reading a book, but what with weeks of suppressed emotion and the bringing to the surface of said emotions by reading a skillfully written story on the wonder of first love, I was sobbing. Then L started getting up and wailing every 10 minutes and I finally brought him into bed and we fell asleep before G ever came up.
New years day was...OK. I had wanted us to plan something big for the kids, like the children's museum, or a new park, but G said he was tired and coming down with something, and wanted to get stuff done in the house. We all got up a bit late (for us, 7:30), got ready, and went to the parade our city does on NY day. The kids lasted about 30 minutes, so back home we went. We played for a while, I put away all the Christmas stuff, we had lunch and I took L up to nap on me (the only way he'll nap anymore) while I finished my book. After a short nap, I brought him back downstairs and basically took over kid duty while G worked on patching dry wall in our bathroom for 5 hours.
I was bored, annoyed, and incredibly inpatient. After vowing 3 weeks ago not to yell at the kids anymore (because I feel like an ass and it simply doesn't work), I was shrieking like a banshee at both my little boys because the incessant "mommy mommy mommy" and tugging at me were driving me insane. Eventually we got the kids to bed and G and I planned to enjoy some wine and fancy cheeses he had picked up. I thought we could finally talk now.
Well this was doomed from the start. When we went to get the cheese, that G had set out on the table to warm up a bit, one was gone. The dog (who has NEVER taken food from the table before) had gnawed through the wrapper and consumed most of it. G was pissed, and then he mentioned he was exhausted and feeling sick and just wanted to relax. So we stuffed our faces with cheese and gulped wine while watching a show. I asked him to come upstairs and come to bed after that because he'd been up so late last night and because I was tired of going to bed alone. Miraculously, he didn't argue or roll his eyes, but said "OK" and came up.
And then, seemingly out of nowhere, we proceeded to have the ugliest, nastiest fight I have ever had in my life. I won't go into the details, it was the same old issues as always, but there was yelling and name-calling, and door slamming of the sort that had never been seen in our home. At the end we were both broken down and finally finally finally able to be honest with each other. We both feel lonely, neither of us are good at communicating emotions, but in completely different ways, we both take the easy and selfish path of ignoring the issues and going our own way. We love each other and care about our relationship, but at the end of the day there is often nothing left to give. So we get the worst of each other. The dregs that are left after work, and kids, and friends, and every single other thing in life take all our energy and patience and creativity and kindness. We talked about all this, and we vowed to do better, to try to put each other higher on our list of priorities, to compromise more (maybe I can watch a movie with him once in a while; maybe he can come up to bed with me more often so we can chat) and to be more open.
I'd like to think things will change but also feel that its incredible naive to expect that when we have no concrete plans for how to implement change. I know there are a few things I need to do myself, and while I've made and broken these promises too many times to count, I am realizing that I am running out of time to "fix it later". There isn't always a later. January 2nd is a good time to start.