No New Leaves

“What’re your new year’s resolutions?” I asked Ruby as we chatted over FaceTime (she was visiting her dad in St. Louis).

“I don’t make them anymore,” she said. “I always say it’s going to be to stop biting my nails, but I realized last year that I’d made the same resolution for five years so obviously it wasn’t working. So I stopped. Making them, I mean. Not biting my nails. I still do that. I probably always will.”

“Makes sense,” I said.

But still, I asked Georgia, just out of curiosity. “Hey, Georgie-Boo, what’re your new year’s resolutions?”

“What’s that?” she asked.

“You know – something you’re going to do differently in the new year …”

“Oh,” she said. “Uh. I want to … eat more Nutella.”

She went back to watching disembodied hands play with toys on YouTube.

Basically, I am where Ruby is. I don’t have any drastic plans for self-improvement. The things I’d like to change about myself – be less anxious, be more organized, have some damn self-control around a bag of potato chips – are things I’ve more or less accepted are too innate for me to ever effectively change. I’ve learned my own workarounds – the occasional Xanax, hundreds of Post-It notes, and not keeping potato chips in the house – but at 37, I’m not going to change who I am at my core, which is a messy neurotic salt addict.

Ruby is wise to realize her limitations at 11, although of course she might yet stop biting her nails, and I always encourage her to push her own boundaries. But she’s 11, not 37, and thus slightly more malleable. Still, we are who we are. Mostly, I think, we’re born who we are.

I’m lucky enough to be pretty darn content with who I am and how I live. I am content with the frequency with which I go to the gym: anywhere from three times a week to never. I am content with the amount I eat and drink. I’m content with my hobbies, which are basically shuttling my kids to their hobbies and reading terrible fiction in the bathtub. I’m content with my job. I’m content with my house. I’m way more than content with my friends and family.

My life isn’t exciting – my to-do list for the upcoming week includes ordering new contacts, calling someone to come fix the dishwasher, and figuring out the source of the unpleasant smell in my car (although, typing this, I have just puzzled out that I bet it’s water that leaked from Georgia’s straw cup – the purple cup is missing, and water, left soaking into a floor mat, can smell almost as bad as milk, a fact almost everyone in New Orleans has learned after a heavy rain).

But I don’t want excitement. I never really have, not even when I was much younger, and certainly not now. What I want – basic contentment – is what I have. My life is satisfying and full of small, simple joys. (And frustrations, too, of course.)

My goals for this new year are simple goals, easily achievable and solvable (with a little Febreeze). They don’t rise to the level of resolutions, but I am going to take a cue from my kids and not make resolutions this year at all.

Except maybe to eat more Nutella.


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