Raising Richmond: Me in 2013

Happy New Year! Find out what I’ll be doing in 2013 to make things better for me and the ones I love…

My husband is big on establishing a “theme” for each year. We had “2010: Clean Up Your Eating,” followed by “2011: Dress Like a Grown-Up.” In 20131 he’ll focus on collecting personal data to determine his best path towards self-improvement.2

Ever the optimist, my husband prefers this approach to typical resolutions; establishing an overarching goal for the year, as opposed to a checklist, appeals much more to his positive, go-with-the-flow nature.

I, however, am not an optimist. I am a pessimistic control freak who will write already-completed items on her to-do list just to experience the satisfaction of checking them off. Or (just to be extra obnoxious) I won’t create the to-do list at all because either A) “Hey, I’m waaaaaay to on-the-ball to need a to-do list” or B) the thought of not completing all of the items on said to-do list sends me into a pit of despair, and I refuse to do that to myself.

(I sound like such a treat!3)

This leaves me in sort of a weird spot when it comes to making plans for the New Year. I like the idea behind my husband’s MO, but its loosie-goosiness leaves my detail-oriented side a bit unnerved. Meanwhile, my fear of failure is strong enough to paralyze me into just accepting the status quo and not even bothering with resolutions. I mean, if I’m not going to do something all the way (and do it well), what’s the point?

I’m well aware of the defeatism oozing out of that last sentence—which is why something must be done. So! I’ve decided to give it a go in 2013, but in a way that sort of Frankensteins my husband’s thematic approach with your standard New Year’s resolutions. Except I’m not calling them resolutions. Instead, I’m looking at them as “helpful means” that will keep me on-theme for 2013. And that theme, dear friends, is…

Loving better.

That’s not to say that I’m an unloving person, but I am very much in my own head most of the time—a disposition that doesn’t always lend itself to outward expressions of love and affection. While I don’t expect (or necessarily want4) my personality to change, I do think I can tweak my approach. Because I can do better. I can love the people in my life better. My kid, my husband, my friends and family, everyone. Here are four concrete ways to hopefully help me reach that end in 2013.

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1. Stop sighing.

I do this thing when I’m irritated (particularly in response to being asked the same question 349 times5) where I pause and…SIGH.6 A guttural sigh, thick with annoyance that leaves its recipient with zero doubt as to how I feel about him in that specific moment—even though I haven’t said a word. It’s passive aggressive, it’s unkind, and it’s a total cop-out. I owe it to those I love (and those with whom I happen to share space) to either air my grievances or just choose to not be annoyed.

2. Reach out beyond “The Usual Suspects.”

While our family is blessed with a healthy amount of friends, when it comes to kid-related things, we tend to stick with the same people. I’m hoping to bring some new folks into the fold this year—people we know and like but just haven’t spent much time with beyond a quick conversation at the playground or as we cross each other’s paths at a restaurant. Every ounce of my introverted being trembles at the thought of this, but hanging out is what my kid does best. I will do this for him.

3. Enjoy the moment…then Instagram it.

Yes, I love technology.7 I adore my magical, magical iPhone, and I don’t care who knows it. I do not distinguish between “Internet Friends” and “In Real Life Friends” because I cherish them all. Consequently, I will never in all of my days utter, “Guys, I just need to unplug for a while.” However, I do need to work on being present in a moment and letting it unfold entirely before sharing it with the world. I hate to think of how many sweet mother-son and husband-wife interactions I’ve missed because I was too concerned with choosing the best Instagram filter.8

4. Say “yes” more.

For the last couple years I was on a saying “no” kick. “I have a toddler!” I’d shriek. “I have two jobs! I can’t possibly do one more thing!” And while I think certain seasons of life are better served by protecting your time in that way, I’m not in that place anymore. As our son gets older, I feel like our focus needs to broaden so it includes a bit more of the world outside of our nest built for three. We don’t exist in a vacuum, and I want him to see the value in being available for people—in helping them, loving them, sharing our lives with them…even jumping into the mess of their lives when called to do so.

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What’s your theme for 2013? How will you stick to it? Any suggestions on other ways I can stick to mine?

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  1. For the life of me, I can’t remember the theme for 2012. Perhaps it was “2012: The Year Of Not Yammering On About That Year’s Theme.” 
  2. His words, not mine…as if I could make that up. (Love you, guy!) 
  3. I promise, I’m not a total drag to hang out with. Besides, I tend to internalize all of this stuff anyway. Because that’s super healthy. 
  4. You take the good, you take the bad
  5. Which NEVER happens in a house with a four-year-old. 
  6. I told you they were concrete. 
  7. Is it time to bring back Napoleon Dynamite jokes? No? Ok, just let me know when, because I’ll be all over that. 
  8. Which is never Toaster or Kelvin, bee-tee-dubs. 
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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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