My commitment to myself for 2019 is that I am done with excuses. Done with making excuses. Done with allowing excuses from others.
One of the things I’ve realized about myself this past year is that I am an enabler. I am capable of juggling a lot and organizing a lot and being responsible for a lot. I realize that not everyone is capable in that way, just as I realize that I am not capable musically or artistically or mathematically or whatever the word is for parking correctly within two white lines. And what I have a tendency to do, and I think I’ve done for a very long time, is take on more and more and more – allowing the people around me to contribute less and less and less.
Not only is this not healthy for me, it’s not healthy for some of the people around me. Some people will recognize that I am trying to take their part and call me on it and tell me not to. But others will just let me do more and more and more. And then one of a couple of things will happen – I will resent them for not contributing or they will resent me for the ability to handle more, or both.
Not only do I take on more and more and more, I actually make excuses for the people I am enabling. And you know who that helps? No one. It doesn’t help the person I enabled, it doesn’t help me, and it doesn’t help the people I make excuses to because they know exactly what I’m doing (or will eventually).
I make excuses for people to avoid dealing with my disappointment in them. I make excuses for people to avoid the conflict that comes with brutal honesty, which I know I can unleash in harsh ways. I make excuses for people to keep other people I love, especially my children, from being hurt. I make excuses for why I can’t do something instead of just saying no. And I make excuses for myself, particularly when I continue to enable others, and I think things like “this is just who I am – I’m a helper. I am helping.”
I am not helping. I am not a helper when I enable.
This does not have to be who I am. And It will not be who I am, regardless of how much work and effort I have to put in to make it so. Because I am sick and tired of excuses. I’ve been living with them and making them my entire adult life and I am done with it. I’m done with how it makes me feel and how it makes others around me feel.
New Year’s is such a weird holiday for me. First, I am not a big New Year’s Eve celebration kind of person. I am an early riser without an alarm which means I am generally not one who stays up late – and if I do, I have to take a nap earlier in the day or I absolutely will not make it to midnight. Secondly, I am not one of those people who buys into the “out with the old and in with the new” bit. Let’s be adult and fix things as we identify brokenness. And finally, I am not a New Year’s resolution kind of person. When you make a decision to make a change in your life, you make it and stick to it whether it’s January 1 or May 4 or August 12. I’ve just never embraced the magic of starting fresh in a new year. And I’ve certainly never embraced any foolishness like never eating dessert again – we must set achievable goals for ourselves.
And even though I’ve never been a New Year’s kind of person, in the last week I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the fact that I’m starting 2019 unlike any other year. Particularly that I’m starting 2019 with a name I love and with a life of which I am proud. Not everything about my life is perfect – far from it – but at this day and moment one year ago tonight I could not even fathom how much I would laugh and speak freely and enjoy freedom and embrace the future the way I do on this night. A year ago tonight I was immensely proud of my daughters, but I could not even imagine how much more proud I would be of them a year later on this night. My daughters are the bravest people I know.
Tonight it’s just me and Audrey, and so we sat down with giant pieces of her favorite cake and I told her all the ways I thought she’d made progress in 2018. I specifically went through examples of when she was brave. I focused on things about her character that I’m proud of. She’s beautiful and smart, and I tell her those things all the time. I wanted her to hear me purposefully say how proud I was that she communicates feelings in a journal instead of keeping them bottled up and a secret, that she prayed for kids who are sick after we went to CHKD for a check-up, that she really takes time to think of gifts that will make people like her bus driver smile. And then I asked her…
me: What are you most looking forward to in 2019?
Audrey: My birthday.
me: Your birthday? Why your birthday?
Audrey: Because I’ll be 8 and I won’t need a baby car seat and I’ll be a big girl.
me: You’re already a big girl now, even though you have a booster seat.
Audrey: But I’ll be an even bigger big girl on my birthday.
I had no nap today, I bought a small cheap Prosecco for myself and Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen, and I am actually awake just before midnight. Because for the first time in many years I’m not just going into a new year with ideas and plans – I can’t wait to start this next year, with no excuses. I’m toasting to a combination of thoughts by Audrey Grace and Charles Lamb: New Year’s day is every man’s birthday, and here’s to being an even bigger big girl in 2019.