When your New Year doesn’t get off to an altogether good start, I think it’s okay to try again on say about the tenth of January. That seems a reasonable frame of time to get settled into a new year. I mean, when we start a new job it takes at least a fortnight to hit your straps. And with New Year’s Eve being such a demanding temptress of a day, who can expect to start off all shiny new on the first of January.
I for one, was VERY shiny and bright when the new year began. Dancing it in actually. In a gold dress and converse high tops (!). Kissing everyone, making a bit of a scene with my husband when he disappeared at the pivotal moment, HAPPY NEW YEARING, the usual stuff. Just that by about 5:30 am I was snoring and by 8:30 am I was trying to pretend I wasn’t a person but a log. A low lying log that no one would be likely to bother with and couldn’t possibly move under any circumstances. Except perhaps for a vegemite sandwich and a fizzy lemon.
Then there’s that New Year thing that involves expecting more of yourself, even when you’re all “I’m not making new year’s resolutions are you kidding? I gave them up seventeen years ago when the millenium bug didn’t happen” (seventeen years??!!).But secretely you’re thinking you will definitely try to drink more water in case it clears your skin and that you’ll get religious about the New York Ballet workout so that people might comment on your calves and you can just pretend they’ve been that ballerina shape all along.
And of course you’ll be a better parent.
But the small people in my life are being small-people-on-holiday and testing me with bickers and pesters and being hungry and having to change their clothes so often that the spare sofa is full with washing and no one has any clean socks. And then there’s all the sneaking about with screens until they no longer have any capacity to get along or find their imaginations. “Why can’t any of you just POTTER QUIETLY?” I screech in a tone that it anathema to pottering. “THERE’S NOTHING LIKE A LOVELY POTTER”. At which they all give me a look and one of them sniggers. Sniggering is so fucking unpleasant. It makes me shout a bit more and maybe bang a door and tell them all to go away on an adventure because I have AN APPROACHING DEADLINE (this is slightly true but was mostly used to make me sound far more important than I am and god only knows what they think an approaching deadline is oh dear).
So they do. Go away on an adventure. Perhaps to get out of the way of the deadline. And I emerge from my tantrum and they’re gone and there’s that silence that I’ve been craving but it’s not a blessed silence or a what-are-they-up-to silence but an entirely new silence. A ‘they’re-gone’ silence.
It was very loud.
So then I had to fight the urge to go looking for them because you can’t go looking when you’ve told them to go. That really would be potty. Only I can’t work because my mind is full of worry and I can’t possibly concentrate. So I make a cottage pie because that might turn me into a good mother. And I realise that I can never win.
The children will always win. Dammit. Just when Julia Jacklin tells me not to let the kids win in her divine song.
They came back not long into the simmering of the pie filling. They’d only ridden their bikes to the dairy and while that’s not much of an adventure, I decided that every day’s an adventure, some good, some not so good, some wonderful. And in the world of parenthood, no one can predict which will be which, no matter the weather or the time or the date. Even if it’s holidays or weekend or Friday or a birthday or the first shiny new day of the year, someone might have said something unkind or have worms or a sore tummy or be in a mood or I might feel like making a scene. And the adventure isn’t all that much fun.
Next time it might be raining and the bush track hard to find but the view at the top is amazing and someone brought jelly beans.
So anyway, the tenth. I’m starting the new year then. And I do have a resolution. I’m just going to try not to worry if a daily adventure doesn’t work out the way it was planned. They actually rarely do. And there’s always jelly beans.
Happy New Year. xxx