By Christine Gunderson
When my kids started school I realized how much I’d missed living on an academic calendar. During those years between college and having children, I’d lost touch with the clean slate feeling that comes with fall. New shoes, new notebooks, new school year. A chance to start over.
August became the new January. A month of resolutions and vows to do better. This year I will wake up early to cut up fruit and vegetables to create healthy lunches. I will not forget to sign the homework folder. I will clean the mini-van once a week so it does not look like a Superfund site on wheels. I will remember everything. This year, I will be perfect.
And I would be perfect, for a few months. Until about now, in fact. By the end of October whatever carefully devised system I’d created would start to fray around the edges. Some sad grapes scrounged from the far reaches of the fridge would replace the freshly cut fruit. Library books would go missing. I’d run out of turkey and send the kids to school with a Nutella sandwich and call it a day.
Things would go on this way until Christmas. January would peek around the corner and with it, the seductive promise of new resolutions. Another chance at perfection. A fresh start. A larger calendar. A new system.
This year was no exception. In August I made my resolutions. I tried to be perfect. Now it’s October 23 and I’ve failed. I forgot the post-game soccer snacks. I forgot to schedule the flu shots and rsvp to the birthday party and give the dog heartworm pills.
So I’m making a fresh start. Right now. I’m not waiting for January. My resolution for the rest of the year is embrace imperfection. To stop looking at minor disorganization as some kind of character flaw. To accept the things about myself that have always been and given my age, are likely to always be.
To accept the bad and embrace the good. I can’t read maps. I’m terrible at math. I can’t sing or dance or paint. But I have a sense of humor. I can laugh at myself. And I can write.
That needs to be enough.
I don’t know why it’s so hard to end the self-improvement campaigns and the resolutions and just accept myself for who I am, a creative but slightly absent minded-person who has trouble remembering her wedding anniversary and other people’s birthdays, no matter how much I love them.
My new goal is radical self-acceptance, a term I’ve picked up from listening to New Age-ish podcasts. My resolution is to not have any resolutions.
No more systems or attempts to change my absent minded ways. Just me and my imperfections, starting over together.