The smell of NYE is mosquito repellant, sunscreen, sparklers and new skincare – opened at Christmas and used religiously until four or five days into January, when resolutions of better skin and a better me faded into obscurity.
The last few years have been consumed by a stifling combination of pandemic and parenthood, and New Years’ resolutions have been gladly forgotten – overshadowed by more pressing matters and the acknowledgement that circumstances allowed me to simply exist and not strive for improvement.
I don’t have good things to say about resolutions past, which often involved going swimming more often, adhering to a seven-step skincare routine, or learning a complex new skill with spare time and motivation I am not in possession of. Unforgiving, requiring action every single day, and thus impossible to keep.
Giving up on them after a week was often tinged with shame and feelings of failure, and made me feel like I had absolutely no self-control.
This year, I am resolving to resolve less and to interpret failure to change huge habits overnight as natural, rather than a sign that I might as well just get all the way into the bin.
But things I’m looking toward are achieving a better work-parent-life balance, and to stop using motherhood as yet another excuse to put aside the things I’d really like to do.
I’m taking Mondays off this year, so that’s my first stop for balance.
The motherhood as self-sabotage and negative talk is more complex.
Tonight, Elsie watched with fascination as my brother’s girlfriend applied watermelon-inspired makeup and did her hair up like lanterns (I know, it’s a difficult look to imagine, but obviously fantastic).
I put on an extra layer of my own makeup and lamented the fact that spending half an hour on my own face produces results indistinguishable from a two-minute job.
“Well,” I thought to myself, “I am a mum, after all.”
I’ve never been bothered learning how to use makeup properly, and have stuck with the basics out of intimidation and lack of confidence. Nothing to do with children. The same goes for nice clothes and going out at night. If anything, I’ve become better at ~treating myself and investing when I get the opportunity.
Blaming parenthood for everything feels like regular self-criticism, but it’s not fair on the kids and doesn’t make me the mother I want to be. I don’t want the children to grow up thinking they made me unhappy, or that parenthood is an end to fun, satisfaction and the pursuit of personal interests, even if parenting infants feels a bit relentless at times.
Not a resolution, but an observation.
(Three weeks later, back in the northern hemisphere…)
New Year’s Eve was rudely interrupted by Otto crying for an hour, followed by dinner and drinks, homemade fortune cookies and a hilarious round of “would you rather”.
The weeks following were a flurry of Covid in the community and a whole lot of I don’t remember what, but no time to write.
I thought about editing this, since it’s no longer the turn of the annum, but maybe leaving it alone is authenticity. Maybe it’s just laziness. It could be both.
We left Australia eight days before we had planned, due to growing case numbers, full hospitals and the chance we wouldn’t make it home if we left it any longer. Those fears were probably a bit extreme, but in year three of this godforsaken global pandemic, “she’ll be right” is starting to feel unreliable as a philosophy, and dramatic, kneejerk reactions to the daily news are becoming part of my daily routine.
Early January was spent nervously catching up with friends outside and trying to keep otherwise out of trouble as we awaited our flight. On Tuesday, we said slightly tearful goodbyes and entered the airport.
years hours of transit later, we were “home”, after two wonderful months “back home”. For those wondering if extended air travel with a toddler-child and a baby-toddler is as fun as it sounds, well… I wouldn’t want to disappoint you with spoilers. If all goes to plan, though, that was our last flight with a baby-anything. Otto was already almost too big for the bassinette and prefers the toys Elsie was given by airline staff to his own plushie-blanket-thing, so it’s probably time.
Back in Sweden, we have adjusted somewhat grudgingly to the cold without snow (thanks Gulf Stream) but are still working on the jetlag. All our eight eyelids snap open around 4am and leave us to wait another 4.5 hours for the sunrise, at which point Elsie starts asking when winter will end, and how can it be Saturday and winter at the same time.
“I don’t want it to be winter anymore.”
“Only a couple more months, sweetheart.”
Is it better or worse to not understand the concept of time and seasons? I don’t know. Living in hope but plagued by disappointment? Or stumbling numbly through the darkness, knowing an end is not in sight? I’ll ask Elsie when she gets older.
The air is crisp and smells distinctly of Europe, even though surely that’s not a thing. Some homes are still lit up with Christmas lights, and RATs are readily available at a reasonable price. Masks are also available – because nobody is wearing them – and we are back to wondering what risks are worth taking with unvaccinated children in year three of the Big C.
Thank you for reading my meandering and vaguely New Year-themed update. Until next time something interesting happens/a few months have elapsed and I get itchy fingers.