I generally believe that New Year’s resolutions are deeply flawed and set you up for failure, but after The Year of Sh1t Things Happening (how we refer to 2019) I have used the transition into a new year and a new decade to try and get myself back on track.
I’ve been tuning into a few different resources to understand the best ways to make such changes and the best piece of advice I’ve found is to keep the goals small. The idea behind this is to make very small, do-able, incremental changes in my schedule that ultimately make me feel better.
For most of last year I was doing practically no scheduled exercise. The main exercise I had – once I recovered from my illness – was to go for walks with N and/or just generally chase his energetic butt around. On some days this was MORE than enough exercise anyway, but I really missed the luxury of an hour doing something for myself here and there. Meanwhile, my husband has been going to the gym after work 3-4 times a week since forever. While I think that’s great he was staying fit and well, it was really disheartening to know that he wouldn’t set aside one day a week so I could do something for myself. His excuse was always that I could take N to his parent’s house if I wanted to work out. I guess it’s true that I could do that, but it added a whole layer of complication and sometimes that was too much – and it’s also a layer of complication that he never has to face as I don’t make him take N anywhere so he can enjoy his leisure time.
Some people advised me to stand up to him about this, but it just ended in gigantic rows about how unreasonable I was being, all of which fed deeply into a feeling of resentment and unbearable sadness. It’s very hard to adequately represent those arguments here, but suffice to say that I became defeated about it and just recognized that my own free time would have to be sacrificed until I came up with a better plan.
Then 2020 rolled around and a better plan was found! I now have someone helping me at home which means I am less weighed down by home duties and more free to do nice things with N. It also means that I have the flexibility to leave N at home for a short while to do something, such as pop for a manicure or go to work out. I would really have preferred my husband to step up but sometimes it’s better for long-term harmony to look for a solution, rather than bang on about the same gripes forever. The flip side for him though is that he now has to pay for someone else to help at home.
With this new structure in place I have kicked off the new year by starting to do some sessions with a counsellor on a weekly basis. It is an EXHAUSTING and overwhelming experience – it is definitely a can of worms situation! I think I might need to keep going to her every week for a whole year to get through all of my stories.
Some of the early observations are that I’m lonely (no surprise) and that I have a lot of emotional pain that has been unprocessed (also so far, no surprises). During the last session she asked me if I am being my authentic self, which I later looked up online and seems to mean if you are being authentic this is not to allow a situation or person to change you, unless for the better. I guess she feels that I have allowed myself to be changed, and not for the better, which I do agree with to an extent. She also observed that it’s as though I have given up, which unsettled me a lot.
On the flip side, I’m a little amused that over three sessions we are still so far back in my story that the counsellor hasn’t heard anything about my husband yet. She’s in for a ride when she gets to hear about all the fun and games of moving countries, getting married (with his parents and family members not coming to the wedding in Australia), infertility, IVF, miscarriages and then obviously my Mum’s illness and passing. I think she’s definitely going to earn her fees!
I’ve also been able to go to yoga once week since the start of the year. One week I went twice! This has been really good for me and important to my overall wellbeing. My next step is to start working out properly as I am unhappy with the impact of gravity on my butt, so I will be working to address that. I decided that evening gym classes do not work for me in this phase as that’s N’s dinner time and it gets complicated, which then puts me off attending. Instead, I’m hoping to arrange to go once a week to start straight from work in the afternoon (I work part time). I can then go straight home, have a quick shower and be fully hands on for N. The only drawback to this scenario is that my husband will need to collect N from nursery school and bring him home, which will no doubt result in me needing to present him with a trophy for his tremendous efforts. I will see how it goes and if there is too much drama associated with that scenario, I will come up with an alternative plan.
I do feel better already, but I am still exposed to the variables of everyday life like everyone. My marriage is better, but certainly not going to win any awards right now. There have been fewer monster fights in recent times, but the house build is still ongoing, and this is a regular source of tension.
The most recent issue is that I am feeling rather down about how small our green areas of the back yard will be and that there will be not so much space for N to play outside (there is loads of space inside), and certainly less than I had expected. We have a rather large pool which is tremendous, and I am delighted about, but our house is quite big and perhaps we should have factored this in. I wasn’t part of the discussion process during the period the pool/backyard design was implemented as I wasn’t capable, so I am cross and disappointed. Where we live is a very hot and dry climate where things don’t grow so well, i.e. lawn grass is not a viable prospect, and it’s often so hot that it’s difficult to play outside anyway unless you’re in a pool or by the sea so maybe it will all be fine. I am from a rural area of Australia so having so little outdoor space is unfamiliar to me. Also, I find myself better grounded in nature and each of these factors is playing its role in my anxiety about this.
I am aware this sounds super-princessy behavior (I have a chat with myself about this on the daily), but when you invest so much time and money into something and you’re not satisfied with the outcome it can be hard to overcome. Someone please tell me it will all be ok and that kids will adapt no matter what? I am quite down about this. But also, yay pool! You’re all invited to enjoy some wine by the pool with me if this house build is ever finished.
Meanwhile, N has been really lovely recently. His vocabulary is exploding and it’s so much fun. Amongst other things, he can now count to ten in both English and Greek. When you consider he was saying very little at all before Christmas, this is a big development. Right now he loves his scooter so much and is a daredevil when he rides it. I love his courage! He also has a girlfriend in his class who he talks about non-stop, but literally doesn’t care for any of the boys in his class at all. You can say their names and he doesn’t even blink. Say the girls’ names though and he’s got so much to say in response.
Other favoured pastimes include colouring – he loves to draw (washable) marker pens all over his fingers, which I think is him trying to make coloured nails like mummy – playing with balloons, jumping on the trampoline that our neighbours kindly gifted us (in perfect condition, what a result!), going for walks to the park and patting our cats. He now talks to the cats in a high-pitched “cat voice” and it’s the funniest thing ever.
He is continuing to resist bedtime, which seems to be some kind of wonderful phase of a two-year-old, but patience and not allowing an afternoon nap seems to make this mildly more manageable. He is also increasingly fussy over mealtimes which is a bit of a stress but we do a top-up on any dinner not eaten with banana. Considering he’s almost grown out of his car set which is allegedly suitable for up to 4 years old, I think the amount and what he’s eating doesn’t seem to be too much of a concern.