2008 New Years Day 2008 I woke up with nervous excitement.
I knew what I had to do that morning. I knew it was an ambitious resolution. I knew it would take commitment and dedication. I knew I had to conquer
eggs and coffee.
Some people try to get rid of cholesterol in the new year. Some people try and kick a dirty habit... like a caffeine addiction or a budget poorly spent on lattes. Some people decide to be a better person- one way or another.
But me? I had dreamed about eating mushroom, avocado, bacon, and cheese laced omelets for way too long. I spent too many years as a Starbucks employee despising espresso but secretly wanting to have a socially acceptable addiction; a coffeehouse junkie with a habit. I knew what I had to do. I knew 2008 was the year for eggs and coffee.
New Years Day 2009 I spent pregnant and on an airplane. I was still in the phase of pregnancy where the world around you smiles and doesn't let on that you should probably invest in zoloft and a scream chamber for your house. They smile and don't let on that you are about to turn into a giant marshmallow and that, in a few short months, you won't be able to see your feet or feel your fat fingertips. They smile and don't let on that two hours, two measly hours of sleep, will shortly be your default prayer. Lord, just please give me two hours of sleep. Seriously. Please. I'm begging.
No, everyone just kept smiling. And so did I. I was blissfully unaware that the baby class I would attend in ten days would be the beginning of the end. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. New Years Day 2009 I was headed to the mountains for a final bit of pre-baby vacation with my husband, Ryan.
New Years Eve 2010 started out as a disaster. I got a last minute haircut. I was convinced my hair was ugly. I hated it. I knew we didn't have tons of money- though we had enough for me to get a haircut- still, my stubbornness won and early that morning I decided I would cut it myself. I would give myself New Years Layers. How hard can layers be? Right?
Wrong. Layers can be very wrong. They can get tricky and when you are pulling dry hair to the front of your chest and chopping away with your craft scissors... it can be very, very wrong. I ended up going to get my hair cut and when a very well meaning stylist asked if he could take some "creative liberties" I thought rather arrogantly, "Sure. I'm in a band. I can do creative. I can do hip. Create away."
I walked away with a bob. My hair fell to my jawline and I sobbed the entire drive home.
I learned a valuable New Years Eve day lesson. If you have a new baby, chances are, you are emotional and irrational, or at the very least, sleep deprived. Hold off on the hair cut. Maybe give it a year. Maybe think on it for a few days. Maybe avoid being impulsive and definitely, whatever you do: don't do it yourself. If you are getting ready to go out for a night on the town or you are celebrating another major holiday... hold off on the haircut. If you are suffering from the uglies, in my experience, it only feels good to sit in the chair and pretend some form of magic is happening on your head that will transform your identity. But when it's all said and done... it's never the cure you are looking for. You almost always get in the car and cry. Hold off on the haircut.
We went out for New Years Eve with the guys in the band and their significant others (despite the bad haircut) and I think we felt semi-human again. We emerged from the baby fog and danced the night away.
The year before had been a year of learning. Of growing. Of seeing our selfishness exposed and our hearts made bigger because of this little baby squirrel that came into our lives with her big blue eyes, a refusal to sleep, and the greatest laugh we had ever heard. Everything had changed. We were both going to turn thirty during 2010.
That's a respectable, grown-up number. But I think it dawned on me as I danced the night away... I was just a kid. Still figuring life out. Still fighting my desire to be young and free and in the same breath, wondering if my baby girl was sleeping ok with grandma? If I had made a mistake by going out on New Years and leaving her? Wondering if I should feed her Gerber graduates the next morning or stick with the mushed up bananas for another few weeks?
New Years Day 2010 my body was sore from all the dancing and my head was pounding from the lack of sleep. My hair didn't fit into a ponytail anymore and I needed to pick up my daughter from her grandparents. I did so with a twinge of dread.
Something descended upon me the night before. It shouldn't have. It's like hearing your dad's threatening voice before you kiss a boy on the front porch or finding yourself in an intense moment of worship at a Coldplay concert or feeling a moment of conviction when you are just trying to shop and indulge yourself in peace and quiet... there are certain places certain voices shouldn't intrude upon. Like a New Year's Eve party and a deep realization that everything was changing, that everything was going to be different, that life was not the old carefree life it used to be. But there it was. New Years Eve. And I felt it in my soul.
I guess I should have known then that 2010 would break me.
Today is January 1, 2011.
I am sitting at Starbucks drinking a latte and seriously considering going to get a mushroom, avocado, bacon, and cheese laced omelet.
New Years Eve was spent quietly. I fell asleep at 10:30 curled up against Ryan. We never even opened the bottle champagne we bought.
I feel sober today.
Not somber. Not sad.
A few short years ago I woke up giddy and nervous. My only cares in the world were conquering food groups.
This year I woke up with a different feeling.
A quiet prayer. Lord, please make life easier this year.
A tender acceptance of the beauty of being a mom.
A resolute heart... I will keep going... I will keep breathing... I will keep loving... I will keep giving... I will keep on...
A sober reality.
Webster says that to be sober is to be temperate. Free from excess and extravagance. Rational. Marked by solemnity.
And that's where I find myself this New Years Day.
Someone told me that this past year was a chapter in my life story. That a new chapter would start and I would forget all about the bad parts in this one. Another person said that you keep the hardest chapters of your life out on the coffee table, opened up, so that every time you pass by you can look and see where you have come from. I prefer to think of this last year as a picture album. The really good albums lay around on the counter for people to flip through. They are full of everyday memories.
The wedding books don't usually lay out... they are too big and too gaudy. The baby books aren't usually out... they are laced with relics and artifacts, locks of hair and hospital bracelets, they are taken out with care on special occasions. The DisneyWorld photo books aren't usually around because who wants to look at 500 pictures of Mickey Mouse and Goofy? By the end of the trip everyone is tired and cranky and sunburned and the road trip home is brutal and sometimes you need some space before you bring yourself back to that place, back to those pictures. Those kind of albums aren't the ones lying around in my house.
The few photo albums that are out in our house are sober. Free from extravagance and excess. They are everyday pictures. Of everyday life. The good, the bad, and more importantly... the in between.
The year 2010 broke me in a lot of ways. But, at the same moment, light fell through the cracks. Everyday. All the time. There was a temperance of light. There was a strand of sanity. Normalcy. Beauty woven into the brokenness. And it all evened out to make life...
Everyday joys. Small blessings. Beautiful people. Gracious friends. Good meals. Laughter. And a baby who is not a baby anymore. She is a little girl. Counting. Talking. Cooking alongside me in the kitchen. Feeding her own babies. Growing up and showing Ryan and I what it means to love the little things in life all over again.
Today I am grateful for eggs and coffee. For good years and bad years. For picture albums that capture light falling through the cracks. Because that's what brings me hope in a new year. The promise of light- even if the year has some dark spots.