I hate resolutions.
I refuse to make one, to resolve, to be steadfast and determined to attain some goal. Ten pounds off my ass. House-trained pugs. Balanced meals at least three nights a week--fewer PopTarts for breakfast. Keeping a laundry day. Writing 1000 words a day. Less screaming. Less sarcasm. More consistent dog grooming. I could go on and on, but the point is this--each item on any list I might write is just another opportunity for failure. And you know what--I'm a mom and a wife and a dog, cat, and rat owner. I'm a writer and a teacher, and I don't need to widen the window through which I can view the already vast and fertile landscape of failure.
The thing is, I fail all the time, and I've learned to accept this--even embrace it. At 24, I had two small children, and I was terrified of failing. I washed their hands. I sat on the floor and read books, built block towers, agonized over vaccinations, lead paint, chemicals, AIDS and other dangerous illnesses--a list which included but wasn't limited to: meningitis, hepatitis, bronchitis and bronchiolitis, pneumonia, and cystic fibrosis (my personal favorite for late night worrying).
I spent a lot of time, when my oldest children were babies, checking their dirty diapers for abnormalities like blood or mucous. It was nothing for my husband to come home and find me on the couch, a diaper filled with that cottage cheesy yellow poop open on my lap, intently gazing into it hoping to find nothing that would indicate a lack of vigilance on my part. He would scowl at me when he saw me running my finger over the soft on the top of their heads--he knew I was checking for any abnormal concavement which might point to subtle dehydration.
I loved them so much that I was terrified of doing something or not doing enough--either situation which might end up in their harm. At least that's what I told myself to excuse my constant fretting.
But the truth was that I was also afraid of failing. Failing something so big, something so important. I was afraid for me--afraid that if I failed this big important thing, everyone would see me for what I was--a failure. I think other people feel this way, I do, but I didn't back then. Back then, I thought my fears and my failures were these hidden rot spots inside of me, and that somehow I had kept that damage undercover, but I was petrified, paralyzed, scared out of my size 5 jeans that someone would find me out. And my kids, well--at the risk of taking the analogy too far and offending some people, were like yardsticks of my goodness. If they were safe and healthy and strong and well-loved--maybe no one would see my ugly insides.
It's all bunk--I know this now, and I knew it then--but I was raised on goals and aspiration and success--resolve to do better.
One day a very wise friend, a woman with beautiful gray hair, eyes as light as a summer sky, and a hushed and reverent way of speaking, told me without raising her voice and still conveying her dismay that I just didn't get it, "Bridgett, you are going to fuck up. You're going to fuck up with your kids. You're going to fuck up with your marriage. Go ahead and fuck up; just try not to fuck up too badly."
It remains the most revolutionary speech I have ever heard. Go ahead and fuck up, indeed.
And since then, I have fucked up every day. Most of the time I don't fuck up too badly, but every once in a while, I get a little closer to too badly than I'd like, and you know what, I'm still here.
In my opinion, and it's the opinion of a self-proclaimed fucker-upper, resolutions take the fun out of life. If I resolve not to fuck up, I spend a whole lot of time worrying about what I'm doing rather than just doing it.
So here's to another year of failure!