Another year, another list of New Year's resolutions I don't intend to keep. The 10 extra pounds I'm carrying? Make me voluptuous. The well-bitten fingernails? Show my practical side by not splashing out money on fancy manicures. Fast food, missed visits to the gym, and gossiping behind neighbours' backs -- these are all qualities that make me an unpredictable, free-spirited and brave person (the gossip flies back as well).
No, I am not writing a list this year. Instead I have turned my attention to other members of my household, who will be well served to follow the resolutions I thoughtfully put forward to them.
Resolutions for my husband
I don't believe I am unique in having a husband with a plethora of fears and phobias regarding basic domestic situations. His New Year's resolutions should be to get over the following irrational fears.
• In-the-rack-naphobia, otherwise known as fear of the dishwasher. It's a strange phobia manifesting itself in the inability to put dirty glasses and plates directly into the dishwasher without verbal encouragement. Previous brave attempts have included placement on the counter directly above the dishwasher, the kitchen table, and nearby flat surfaces. Occasionally an unclean dish will end up in the kitchen sink, ostensibly waiting for its turn to have a coveted hand-wash by unknown servants.
• Can't-find-it-itis or "fear of discovery." No, it's not a fear of being found out to have some disgusting personal habit, but rather the fear of discovering where certain common household items are located. Begins with bellowing of "Honey, where is the…" and almost always ends with a perfectly logical explanation. Some examples are, children's sports uniforms in their dresser drawers, plastic wrap in the kitchen cupboard and Christmas ornaments in the craftily disguised cardboard box labeled "Christmas ornaments."
• Not-obvious-enough-ia. This is a phobia that afflicts seemingly well-functioning men once they leave work and try to function in the household. Some questions that demonstrate this are, "Should I tell the kids to go to bed?" "Did you tell them they could eat pudding in the living room?" "Did you know their rooms are a mess?"
Page 1 of 3 -- Do you have preschoolers in your home? New Year's resolutions could be for them, too! Find Kathy's funny kid-resolution ideas on page 2
• Baby-sitter-contact-ivitis. Yes, I can understand the mild discomfort of driving a young teenage girl home after a night of babysitting. However, I don't get the fact that you can never call to book a babysitter, even when you are the one that is going to be out of town causing the disruption to the schedule to begin with. The phone is your friend. Use it.
• Loo-loo-sit-on-the-loo-adinfitum. This is an incomprehensible belief that the only place he can be left alone in his entire home is in the bathroom. Take my advice: try the garage, the furnace room, or the laundry room (no one ever goes in there except me).
My husband is not the only one in my house who needs to make resolutions to help start the New Year on the right foot. In a household like mine where children range in age from 3 to 14, the opportunities for self-improvement are vast.
Resolutions for pre-schoolers
1. It does not matter if my socks go on before my underwear. I can be flexible. I can even not have the stitch line on the top of my socks align perfectly across my foot.
2. Zits on teenagers are not to be commented on in any way, as I understand that "my time will come."
3. I need to accept that I am not the boss -- not even of me.
4. The size of Mommy's bum is not something that should be discussed in public, or ever.
5. I will not add my personal artistic flair to pieces of artwork already created by my six-year-old sister, even though anyone can tell it adds complexity and drama.
Resolutions for primary school age
1. I need to recognize that when Mommy's face turns red and she starts a sentence with "What did I just say?" that any activity I am involved in needs to cease immediately.
2. I must recognize that parents are not aware that a bouncy ball must be bounced a minimum of 1,147 times in a row before the urge passes.
3. I can own more than one favourite shirt and cool pair of pants at the same time.
4. I need to understand that no washing machine can clean aforementioned favourite shirt and cool pants in 3.4 seconds. It takes much longer and my incessant questioning only makes it seem longer (to Mommy).
5. Calling my 12-year-old brother by his babyish nickname, "Panda Bear" for example, is both unnecessary and pain-inducing when said "bear's" friends are in his den.
Page 2 of 3 -- Living with teenagers can sometimes be a challenge. Discover Kathy's funny New Year's resolution ideas for the teens in your home on page 2
Resolutions for tweens
1. I must accept that owning 27 Gamecube games is "enough already."
2. If I insist on playing my AC/DC, Aerosmith or Ozzy Osbourne CD's loudly the ‘rents are likely to sing along and play air guitar (shudder). Investing in headphones is a good use of my allowance money.
3. I need to find an alternative responses to replace the following: "whatever," "then don't look at it" and "oh, you're cool, Mom." Total silence is an option.
4. My parents think it is funny to kid me about boyfriends/girlfriends. I need to humour them, as when the day actually comes that I have one, the joke will be on them.
5. The ancient custom of eating three solid meals a day is not optional with Mom. Move on.
Resolutions for teens
1. I will try to show at least one square foot of clean carpet in my bedroom, at all times, as evidence that I am working on it.
2. Although I know everything, it is apparently increasingly annoying to my parents to point this out on a regular basis. Purported "things I don't know" are not worth knowing but comments to support this argument are best kept to myself.
3. Excessive eye rolling can be hazardous to my health. Not to my eyes per se, but to my social life and so-called "privileges." I will practice steadying my eye movement in the mirror while repeating Mom-isms in my head (for example, "I just know," "I did warn you" and "because your brother is three").
4. I must accept that my friends' parents are much better at every aspect of parenting than my own, and attempts at ingraining their superior parenting techniques into my own parents' methodology are futile.
5. Even though parents seem to not be doing anything most of the time, apparently adults are "too busy" for most things which involve me (for example, the only things worth doing in this lame house). I will try harder to start each sentence with "I know you're busy" (while suppressing the previously mentioned eye rolls) so as to smooth the way for many imperative activities to take place.
So, am I perfect? Is anyone? I throw down the gauntlet to my own family to produce for me a similar list of behaviours and attitudes that I might look into improving in the New Year. Then I invite them to make dinner for the next 427 nights and to do their own laundry. I thought so. Motherhood thy name is leverage.
Kathy Buckworth's book The Secret Life of SuperMom (Sourcebooks Inc., 2005) is available online and in bookstores.
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