I know what you're all thinking. I should have picked the topic of New Year's Resolutions for this week. And I would have, if I'd had half a working brain cell left when I sat down to think about my topic for this week. However, back in October when I was thinking about such things, we had already begun the annual "Ramping Up of the Children," better known as the holiday season.
The holidays start around the 1st of October in this house, with me asking the perennial question, "So, what do you want to be for Halloween this year?" Thus begins a Sisyphean struggle on my part to play full-time mom -- sewing costumes, decorating the house, roasting turkeys, and making home made presents -- whilst still keeping up with my almost-full-time workload as writer and artist. As much as I love this time of year, from October 1st through December 31st, I have also begun to dread it. There is just no way anyone who is not superhuman can keep up with everything that's going on.
Life was simpler before I was a parent. The holidays were a breeze back then. But I wasn't a writer back then either. Strangely enough, it was the act of becoming a mother that kick-started my desire to write. Once I had that first screaming, pooping, vomiting bundle of joy in my arms, I realized I had to do something creative with my life. Hell, I had to be something other than a mom or I'd go bat-shit crazy. During those first few months of non-stop diaper changing and breast-feeding, I discovered writing was the best way to relieve the mind-numbing tedium associated with new parenthood. And since I did all my writing while sitting in the glider nursing a squalling infant, it also helped me to ignore the pain of having my nipples chewed off.
As my children have grown, so has my writing career, and keeping up with both is a real balancing act even at the best of times. During the holidays, it's almost impossible to deal with it all. As of today, I've spent two weeks in very close proximity with my off-spring. We have been to parties, visited family, handed out gifts, decorated the house, broken several ornaments, made home-made pot holders and sock puppets, and endured lots of fights. I've managed to squeak in some work here and there, but for the most part I cleared my calendar for the days between Christmas Eve and New Years. Otherwise, I would have killed myself trying to work and be with the family.
As I write this, it's New Year's Eve day and we're approaching the second peak of the annual "Ramping Up of the Children" (the first being Christmas, obviously). The kids are about to embark upon a bacchanalian frenzy of drinking soda and gorging on popcorn whilst waiting for Ryan Seacrest (I miss Dick Clark!) to announce the descent of the world's most important disco ball ever. My kids know nothing of the true meaning of New Year's, just as they know nothing of the true meaning of "Not now, honey. Mommy's writing a story. Yes, of course it's about princesses and unicorns. No, you most certainly may not read it. Not until you're eighteen anyway." They don't know that New Year's means that soon, very soon, I will finally be free of the holiday season for another year. No more will I be besieged by party invitations and gift lists and school pageants. No more will I desperately scour cookbooks for holiday dinner recipes that both children can agree are not "icky" or "puke-worthy." I will not be standing on any more chairs, scraping cookie batter off my ceiling during the latest round of "Hey, you know what would be nice? Let's bake cookies for all our neighbors! Even that cranky old guy who lives down the street and threatens to kill any child who walks on his lawn. Because I said so, that's why!" And no more struggling to write steamy hot sex scenes while listening to the kids screech over who's turn it is to play with the new Tickle Me Elmo or Island Princess Barbie.. No, no more of any of that.
Come Monday, I will pack my little ones off to school and get back to my normal routine. There will finally be time for writing and cartooning and audio production and all the other things I've been jonesing to do the last two weeks. Once more will I pull out the spreadsheet with my carefully planned out schedule, and I will happily check off the little boxes as I go about my orderly day. From 8:30 AM until 3:30 PM, my time will be mine and I'll be diving into to my workload with a vengeance.
Until I realize that the house is too quiet because I'm sitting at my desk all alone. Then I'll bang my head against the monitor and wish that some tiny tot would come ask me for a cup of hot cocoa, if only to distract me from the mountains of work I now have to face.
Happy New Year's, folks. Enjoy the madness while you can.
And just because I can, here are a few of my New Year's Resolutions.
I resolve to...
Not eat anything larger than my head. Unless it's a vegetable, because vegetables are good for me.
Write a minimum of 200 words a day. And some of them might actually be real words!
Drink less coffee. I will accomplish this by finally having that caffeine IV implanted into my arm.
Exercise more... freedom of speech that is.
Break any resolutions that I see fit. What, you expect me to be responsible all year long?