Christmas chaos has ended and the hours tick down to Auld Lang Syne: Time for self-examination and self-improvement.
I resolve to nag less, even though homework won't be done, no one will feed the dog, the dishwasher won't be unloaded, and my 10-year-old will never take another bath.
I resolve to keep my house more organized and orderly.
I resolve to exercise and eat healthier.
I resolve to be more patient and kind.
I resolve to keep in touch with friends and family.
I resolve to limit the number of activities in which my kids participate.
I resolve to use my time wisely, only in pursuit of my goals.
But come January 5th, I'll wake up in the morning much earlier than I want. I'll reluctantly turn off the alarm and walk room to room rousting children who aren't happy to see me prodding, prying and threatening them to get up and get dressed.
I'll get myself ready for another workday.
I'll rush us all out the door, shouting, "Hurry, I'm going to be late," in exactly the same way I did in the weeks before Christmas and in exactly the same way I will until the first day of summer. All the way to school, I'll fuss at my children for fussing at each other. I'll remind them to do their very best, knowing that a couple will and a couple won't.
Then I'll go to my job. I will work hard, but leave at the end of the day feeling I could have done better and vowing to work harder tomorrow. Tomorrow, I will still be less than perfect.
Later, I will pick up the kids from school. I will find out that one forgot his lunch, again. I will get a note explaining that one of my children isn't performing up to his potential. Another child will report that she left her homework at home and yet another will report that he just didn't do his. I will, once more, give the standard lecture on personal responsibility.
I'll drive children to friends' houses, guitar lessons, dance classes, soccer practices, and church functions.
I'll wash clothes. Fold clothes. Put clothes away. Wash clothes. Fold clothes. Put clothes away. Wash clothes ...
I'll cook a meal. Serve a meal. Clear a meal. Clean up after a meal.
My husband will come home from work to eat dinner with us. He'll repeat the phrases, "Quit yelling," "If you haven't been excused, sit down," and, "I've asked for the salt five times. Why won't anyone pass the salt?" He will say this to them the same way he has at previous meals and the same way he will at meals hence.
We'll clean the kitchen, help with homework, intervene in trivial disputes, have a disjointed, frequently interrupted conversation, and play Clue with the kids while refereeing interactions that very much resemble dinner table ones, minus the "Why won't anyone pass the salt?" comments.
Baths, reading time, bedtime, the nightly round of tuck-ins, whispered bedtime prayers, and I-love-yous. I will think about going for a walk after I finish folding the last dryer-load of laundry, but another chore will distract me. I'll go to bed much later than I should.
January 5th, forget the resolutions. We'll be back to the routine.
And so, a toast to the routine in 2010. The routine means my heart's still pumping, my kids are well-adjusted and normal, I've got a job and my bills are getting paid, and my husband loves me despite myself. No resolution can make my life any better than that.
(Lucy Adams, a syndicated columnist, freelance writer, and author, lives in Thomson. E-mail Lucy at firstname.lastname@example.org.)