Every year at the end of the year, I spend a bit of time thinking about how to improve in the coming year. I make a short list of resolutions that are both aspirational and realistic. Invariably, there’s usually some fitness/weight loss resolution that I may or may not keep past January 4. There’s rarely a resolution list that doesn’t involve the phrase, “Don’t lose shit when kids push your buttons.” And I always make the resolution, “Spend more time with the hubs,” which ends when the first birthday party invitation/T-ball schedule/reading lists arrive for the remainder of the school year.
So this past week I sat down with myself and thought about all the ways I could improve. “What could I do better as a parent, spouse, and person in 2017?” I asked myself. And I came up with the following answer: nothing. There’s nothing I could do to improve in 2017.
That’s not because I’m some stellar wife or perfect parent. I’m not. And it’s not because I’ve achieved my weight loss goals and can fit into my high school jeans. I can’t. And it’s not because I never raise my voice or get so frustrated with my kids that I turn into a total devil mom. I don’t.
It’s because I’m not the person in my house who should really be having a hard talk with themselves about their behavior. I’m not the person who can’t find a laundry hamper to save my life. I’m not the person who thinks only half the dishes need to be washed for the job to be done. I’m not the person who says, “I hate this family” before storming out of the room and slamming the bedroom door. I’m the one dealing with everyone else when they do that.
And so are you.
We moms are working our asses off, making lunch boxes, while making breakfasts, while listening to entire stories about ninjas. We buy birthday presents for children we’ve never met and drive our children across town and back like Uber drivers who don’t get paid. We wipe asses. We wipe away tears. And we clean up messes we didn’t actually make. We exist on less sleep than junkies, and we do it all with a smile on our faces.
We are not the people in our households who need to make resolutions. Everybody else is.
So, moms, instead of sitting down with a Post-it and thinking of all the ways you need to improve, spend that time in a more productive fashion by thinking of all the ways your family needs to improve. Here’s my list:
We don’t live in the Taj Majal. Your hamper is not that far from your hand. Put your dirty clothes inside of it so I don’t have to. Oh, and those shoes you leave in the middle of the floor. I nearly broke my neck on them about 14 times. If I broke my neck, who would pick up your shit for you? On right, you would!
2. Stop handing me your trash.
Even if I’m standing next to a garbage can, you hand me your empties, peels, and half-eaten snacks. Thanks for thinking of me, but I think that garbage can wants them more. Find it!
3. Don’t ask for sex when I’ve got my hands full.
Hubs, I love you. I really do. But if you really want to get laid, try foreplay. And by foreplay, I mean help the fuck out. If you want a blowjob, help me do my job. It’s your job too.
4. Hey, restaurant critics, don’t tell me what you thought of dinner.
For the record kids, when I was a kid we had liver and onions once a month, and we never ever used the term “kid-friendly food.” You’ve got it made so if you didn’t like dinner, eat it anyway. Or make it yourself. I’m not a chef. I’m your mom. Just say “thank you.”
5. Stop acting like homework is my fault.
Hey, that temper tantrum you often throw because “Homework sucks! Why are you making me do it?” is super fun, except that it’s not. You are a child who has two jobs in life: Be a nice person and do well in school. That means do your homework without complaining. Oh, and start being a nice person too!
6. Stop acting like you “really helped me out” because you engaged with your own children.
Honey, unless you need to brush up on your sex education, you already knew that both you and I made the children. They may have come out of me, but they’re half yours. So as much as I love it when you come home early to help with bedtime or take them for blocks of time on the weekend so I can work, don’t put on your cape and act like you’re a superhero. You’re a parent. It’s your job to engage with your own children.
7. Tie your own damned shoes.
Since no one in my house is under the age of 6, I’m pretty sure everybody is capable of tying their own shoes. So just because you’re too lazy to bend down and take the 10 seconds needed to tie your shoes doesn’t mean I should have to. And walking around with untied laces is not an option. The first time you trip over them, you’ll see why.
8. Call your own parents.
Just because I have the ovaries doesn’t make me the keeper of all family relationships. If you want your parents to know what’s happening in our kids’ lives, tell them yourself. And when they visit, it’s not a vacation for you. I’m happy to spend time with them, but I’m not the on-staff entertainment. You take care of your family; I’ll take care of mine.
9. Don’t say everything that comes to mind out loud.
Children, I love that you’re expressive — I kind of really do. But talking about your feelings should never include phrases like, “Mommy, you have a big tummy,” “My lunch today was disgusting,” or “This is the worst day ever!” It’s OK to think some things and not tell them, especially if they are about me. I get enough shit all day, I don’t need yours.
10. Don’t wake me up!
See my eyes closed? That’s a sign I’m sleeping. I know I don’t do it often, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to. So unless the house is on fire or you really have a legit emergency, don’t wake me up. I’m nicer when I’ve had some sleep. It’s in your best interest!
So, moms, as nice as it is that you want to improve yourself, maybe the only resolution you need to make for 2017 is to give yourself a break. Momming isn’t easy, and you’re doing the best you can. Your husband and kids would tell you, but they’re busy trying to pick up all that shit they keep throwing on the floor. Happy New Year!