We are no more than a week into 2011 and it's likely my new year's resolutions are already out the window. I am sad to report, this is nothing new. The impossible-to-uphold declarations of exercising more and procrastinating less haven't historically been too kind to me. Day one goes well, day two, perhaps. But resolution dropout always sets in by week's end.
Last year I even tried to make my resolution something I should have really wanted to stick to --I resolved to have more fun. I thought if I could only recapture a bit of my pre-kid social life, everything else would just fall into place. I at least made it all the way through January with that one"lunch dates with girlfriends, dinner dates with my husband, brunch with whom ever I could convince to sneak away. But by February both the baby sitter budget and my waistline couldn't hack it anymore. And worst of all, absolutely none of the family laundry had been folded since the previous year. My intentions were in the right place--unfortunately my underwear was not.
Perhaps my issue has been trying to make personal resolutions. While nice in concept, let's face it: they are pretty easy to drop. A contract between me and myself -- where's the accountability? And maybe I have been thinking a little narrowly. After all, it's not just me who could use a little change for the better. Why, with all the arguing, jockeying for power (in the form of control of the TV remote) and housework grand-standing that goes on around here, my whole family needs a structure in place to ensure peace and facilitate cooperation.
Then it hit me, this year I could plan to go UN-style on resolutions. As Mom, I would serve as a kind-of Secretary-General. The emphasis would be much more firmly on general; I'm getting kind of tired of the secretary thing. We'd have five member states, two superpowers and three developing nations, each representing their own best interests in matters of policy.
The kitchen table could serve as the "floor" -- but I would insist no one actually walk on it. There we would meet at Sunday night dinner to propose resolutions for the betterment of the whole family. Using formal language, I would introduce resolutions like, "Deeply disturbed by the fact that no one, no one at all, ever picks up their towels from the bathroom floor, and bearing in mind that all members of the family have the physical ability to do so, and fully believing that a straight bathroom would make the house a more pleasing place to live, this household strongly upholds the policy of hanging up bath linens at the end of every bathing event." Yes, I realize these proclamations might be non-binding, but one always has hope.
But just as I am about to put our new policy into effect, my husband reminds me home front democracy isn't really my style. I'm more the benevolent dictator. I just don't have the patience to draft a resolution every time we need the dishwasher unpacked, much less manage the sure-to-be constant barrage of amendments over rights to the top rack versus the forks, knives and spoons. If those dishes are clean, I want them unpacked right away, not in "two minutes"--my kids' euphemism for "when this episode of the Simpsons is over."
All this, I guess, prompts the question: Can you really make resolutions for other members of your family? Or am I just better off returning to self-improvement in hopes of home improvement?comments powered by Disqus
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (Near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.
The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.
The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.
Last week, for the first time, I made my way up to one of the open gallery nights during Madison West's Fine Arts Week, the school's annual showcase for all things creative. The scope of the event is huge, with nearly 1,600 students participating, and the quality of the presented works is phenomenal. It's almost as if the school had been lifted off its perch on Regent Street and traveled back in time to Belle Époque Paris.
If you have aspiring authors in your house, this summer offers a fabulous opportunity for them refine their writing skills. For its second summer, the Greater Madison Writing Project, in partnership with Olbrich Botanical Gardens, is sponsoring two week-long camps in August for young writers entering grades 3-8.
There are lots of benefits to living in a college town. First and foremost, there is always something going on -- a lecture, a film series. Maybe even a protest, if you're lucky. And since becoming a Madisonian, I, for the first time in my life, find myself interested in college football.