I made no New Year’s resolutions. I did not give anything up for Lent. I don’t have “cheat days,” because I just have days.
There are countless things about myself I should be working to improve. At this point in my life, though, I’m considering whether I’m the dog that won’t learn new tricks. I’m far enough along to acknowledge that I am who I am, but I’ve got enough ahead of me to suspect there’s still time for new habits.
I don’t lack inspiration. For example, the women in my life can do the things I have never been able to, but always wanted to. They do those things with apparent ease – an ease that strikes me all the more as I wonder if I have the energy to try to mimic them.
Two friends recently tried to guide me through cooking a meal in a crock pot. They reassured me that it would require no more skill than opening ingredients and dumping them into a large, welcoming receptacle. By the time the pep talk hit the three-minute mark of reassurance mixed with instruction, my cautious optimism waned. Then one of them told me I could transport a cooking crock pot on road trips.
I strongly suspected they were inviting me to operate on a level I would never achieve.
Another friend loves wrapping gifts. She has a closet full of paper, ribbons, and other items that look dangerously like arts-and-crafts projects. She once showed me, with a genuine smile on her face, a dedicated gift-wrapping station in her house – before she took me downstairs to eat the meal she prepared at the end of her work day. I had to confess immediately that people often mistake a present I have wrapped as having been wrapped by my young son.
I have yet to give more time to decorating a present than I give to dusting my crock pot.
One of my oldest friends has remembered every milestone I have hit since I met her in middle school. On my birthdays I am greeted with a thoughtful present, on anniversaries I get a sweet note, when my children do anything she remembers it’s happening and usually marks the event with a memento they cherish indefinitely. She sends thank-you notes within 24 hours of receipt for the pittances I send her way.
The term “belated” was coined in preparation for my arrival on the social scene.
Every single one of my sisters is stylish. They always look just right, and effortlessly so. They know things like sizes and cuts and on-trend and classics.
I feel ill – physically and mentally – when I shop, and I wear the same basic rotation of clothes, regardless of setting or season.
My mother wakes up well before the sun, and she does it cheerfully. By the time the rest of the world is having breakfast, she has already enjoyed several different parts of her day. It does not matter when she went to bed, how many times her sleep was interrupted, or what else lies ahead of her.
My first thought every morning is confusion about how I could have slept through my alarm again, followed swiftly by regret that I am already behind on my to-do list.
My daughter hums her way through life. She has created an internal soundtrack that provides a sanctuary from worry, confusion, and other stresses (such as they are in elementary school). I admire the self-soothing cocoon she has crafted.
My go-to escape is a snack.
I have all these role models for improving my cooking skills, my social skills, and my self-care skills. These are all skills I have wanted to enhance for decades. Yet I continue to encourage take-out, rely on Amazon Prime delivery, scramble through my mornings, don variations of funereal outfits, and use food as a pick-me-up.
Maybe that’s the me I’ll accept. Maybe I should concentrate on mimicking her bottomless reserves of patience, her endless generosity, her gracious confidence, her quiet selflessness. Maybe the work I need to do is too profound to express as seasonal homework.
Yes, that’s probably just right.