It is already 2011 on the East Coast as I write this. I have been rather resolute in not making resolutions this year. They seem to serve as nothing but reminders of how much I DON'T accomplish in a new year. So, instead, I'm going to be doing recognitions for myself. I know I do accomplish things (even if they are often mundane things), but they never seem to be the things that I set out to accomplish. To avoid all that guilt and disappointment, I will be doing some daily recognitions - reflecting on what I've accomplished each day. Basically, I'll be giving myself some credit!
This year has been hard on me, especially the last two or three months of it. I can't point to any specific reason why - there were no hospitalizations for Bean (thank God), there were no tragedies amongst family or friends to speak of, there was just a lot of STUFF. Stuff to deal with, stuff to do, stuff forgotten, stuff that seemed to take up every waking hour of my days and often seep into my sleep at night. I think some of it probably has to do with a constant underlying state of anxiety in my life. Anxiety about Bean, anxiety about work, anxiety about finances, anxiety about my anxiety. It really starts to get exhausting after a while. In addition, I have heard of "mommy-brain" before, but I think I have a really, really bad case of it. I literally can't remember things from one minute to the next...and it isn't just when my mind is on other things - it happens all the time. I started to keep a list of things I needed to do, but I would literally forget where I put the list! How sad is that? So, I was feeling overwhelmed, disappointed in myself and just not seeing what I could "resolve" to do to fix all of it. So, instead, I'm just going to resolve one thing - recognize the things I accomplish each day. Some of them are sure to be tedious - I give Bean her meds each day, I change diapers, I get her dressed and redressed, I pick up her messes, I take her places, I play with her, I sing with her, I read to her. I also do a few other things pretty regularly. I get groceries, I do laundry, I sometimes even cook a meal here and there. I grade papers, I prep for classes, I go to meetings, I do paperwork (lots and lots of paperwork it seems), I chat with students, I go to speech and debate tournaments, I may even do some research for speech and debate every once in a while (though not very often anymore it seems). I feed the dog and cat, I scoop the cat box, I clean the house (or at least parts of it that people will see), and sometimes I even do some decluttering.
So, if I do all those things, why do I feel like I don't accomplish anything? Part of it is that I think our society thinks in terms of what I would call "big ticket items". I could tell when people asked what Bean got for Christmas from us that they were a little disappointed in our answers. Since she doesn't really "get" Christmas yet and we knew that the grandparents would be doing some purchasing on her behalf, we went pretty small this Christmas for her. I bought a lot of things at the $1 store for her to open (because at her age, this really is more than half the joy) and some Christmas PJs and a thrift store purchase of a Disney wordbook (she is currently infatuated with the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Disney Channel - all things Mickey warrant a big smile and possibly a Hot-Dog dance). She was thrilled with all of them, but some who asked what she got seemed a little let down. I'm sure they didn't mean to sound that way and in the end with all the relatives and friends, she ended up with a lot of great gifts (a number of Leap Frog items, including a Leaptop so she can sit on her laptop like Mommy and Dada!) and stuff to last her a year, even though she has a birthday coming up in less than two months!!! Anyways, that was a long way of saying that we have come to expect big ticket items and only those are meaningful or memorable in a lot of instances. And I feel like my life's accomplishments are not filled with big ticket items - its filled with a lot of little $1 store items - they fill up a basket cheaply and quickly, but their effects often don't last long. By the end of a day, I don't feel like I've done much - sometime even at the end of the week, I can't find anything really memorable or meaningful that I've accomplished. But, when I think about it, my giving Bean her meds, as mundane as that may seem, is actually a life-saving action. Getting her blood draws (on a weekly basis this month) is keeping her healthy. That's a pretty big ticket item! And my doing the paperwork at school means that over 25 students get to travel to tournaments and experience competitive speech and debate. That is pretty meaningful for some of them. It doesn't seem like the paperwork matters, but what it is tied to definitely matters. And although cleaning and doing laundry isn't very sexy and grading papers isn't exactly life-changing, it all adds up in the end. I would like my focus this coming year to be one in which I recognize these accomplishments and give myself (and others like me who are doing these things) some credit.
If you would like to join me in this effort, please do! You can comment on this post letting me know you are "in" - and you can start doing your daily recognitions tomorrow. I may even try to put together a "button" for those taking part. I won't be laundry listing my little $1 store accomplishments each day on this blog. I will probably start some kind of "Recognition Journal" and this blog will serve as a place to share any big ticket items that arise as well as a place for reflection and encouraging others to recognize their accomplishments as well.
So, 2011 will begin for me with a messy house, a new class prep for next semester and grades to enter for the Fall semester. But, those are all just things that will serve as possibilities for recognitions now - they are opportunities rather than disappointments! Its all in our frame of mind...right?