Kinder. Gentler. Comfier.

Anyone feeling completely and totally wiped out this week? I think we hit our wall at 5pm last Friday when, in our house, winter break officially started. Rich and I are super fortunate to work for company that shuts down Christmas week – and, of course, Zack is now free of 2020’s crazy where-am-doing-school merry go round. Yes, I know – he will be back on said merry go round come January 4th, but for now, we can answer that March 2020 question of I wonder how long you’ll be doing in-home learning this year? I think, perhaps, we had this holiday break noted as mental benchmark – a corner that we had to get around before we could maybe start looking for the (latest) light at the end of the tunnel. And maybe, in our case, that light is in the form of Christmas lights and the sense of normalcy that they bring us. Which is why I am super excited to note that three days ago, the bottom half of our pre-lit tree went dark. Of course it did. Oddly, the bottom half did light itself again – but in exchange, the top half went dark. So maybe, in our case, that light at the end of the tunnel is in the form of a half-lit Christmas tree – representative of the way I spent most of the second half of this year. Yes, we are exhausted.

About every six months, Rich and I will take a weekend and hole up at a hotel twenty minutes from our house. It sounds really dumb – but it is how we replenish when we feel beaten down by all the lists and to-do’s. We’ve learned that planning a low-key weekend at home doesn’t really work as one or both of us inevitably find our way to a task list – even if it’s just the act of deciding what we’re having for breakfast. If we take ourselves completely out of our home environment, to a place where our options are A) lay in the bed or B) sit on the couch, we have no choice but to turn off the get-something-dones. Typically within an hour of our hotel check in, we are both halfway through the best nap ever. We did that this past weekend totally unintentionally. What we had planned was a quick trip down to North Cackalacky to check in on Mom and Dad – which we did. We also planned on a museum, a Christmas light tour, a trip to the ice cream shop – all done while giving Mom some rest time from the tire of re-emerging into life. What we ended up doing was spending the bulk of our time planted at the hotel in various levels of sprawl while watching mindless tv, yawning, reading, rubbing our eyes, snacking, throwing out half-hearted ideas on things we could be doing and then returning to the above. Zack was even there for the ride. At some point, we pointed out the obvious – that a weekend of nothing was exactly what we needed most. Bonus points for the parental check in – but extra bonus points for hitting the ‘off’ switch for a few days, planned or not.

***

I have been in a bit of a blog organizational mode over the last weeks – creating a Google library of ‘similar’ blog topics. In my motivated mind, I will eventually expand on these posts and put them into some sort of step-momming diary/self-help/flee!/guide book. This book minded plan is not new – it just typically appears while talking to myself in the car. I write the most amazing work behind the wheel with no way to record it and then typically forget everything I said as soon as I have a keyboard in front of me (note to self…buy dictation machine thingy for the car. do not get something complicated). The organization piece is not new either – especially in 2020 – and, frankly, these posts are lucky not to have been printed out in various colors and stored in a new filing system probably located in the glory of my pandemic edited pantry (note to self…order colored paper). Through the process of categorizing, I came to my January 6, 2020 post – the one where I talked about some fairly easy goals for an uneventful year. I read though, noting my progress (or lack there of – year’s still not over, right? Dammit. Please let’s get this year over.).

Some highlights:

  • Keep plants alive. The referenced plants live on. Some were added and remain, some were added and became mulch remains. The big story is the Mandavilla plant that is currently still alive and hibernating in Zoe’s room. It is a big story because I’ve never winterized (?) a plant. I’ve also never been so bold as to spend nearly thirty bucks on a plant that I’d probably kill – so, hell yeah, I’m going to force it into life for at least another year. On a sadder side note, all other outside plants died a terrible death when I paid zero attention to the first frost. I had visions of prolonging their lives with soft blankets as, here in my neck of the woods, the first several freezes do not mean the end of warm weather. If one can provide the right earmuffs and scarfs to the outdoor plants when necessary, one can potentially enjoy them into December. I am not that one. Indoor plants are all accounted for – we even added a small herb garden to my office. Which is also now dead because I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to use herbs all winter long.
  • I did not keep my jewelry clean as promised (a once per week cleaning). I don’t know why. I just can’t remember until someone asks what is growing behind my earrings.
  • I did back up my computer regularly (some would say by cheating and having my nerdy husband make it happen auto-magically).

But my fourth 2020 goal? The one that made me laugh out loud at when read back? The reason I even thought you might care about my 2020 goals in a year when most of us took our goals and threw them into the dumpster fire that held the pandemic, the election, murder hornets, hurricanes, and, well, name an event.

Wear pajamas more.

Yeah. I actually wrote that. On January sixth. As in – stay casual longer. The exact excerpt reads:

Finally, as an ode to another friend, I’m going to spend more time in my jammies. I know a few other work-at-home moms and I often hear about how they wait until they actually leave the house to put on real clothes – and over the holidays, I thought ‘why not me?’ Yes, why not?? Off I went to Kohls and the Cuddlduds rack – and here I am, lounging in the softness of a polyester/spandex blend. Presentable, yet comfortable. Technically fine for opening the door to greet a neighbor, but maybe not hitting the supermarket. I have to admit, I haven’t applied this to weekdays (yet) – just getting used to my pajamas wearing sea legs.

Ah, the written words of someone who clearly had zero clue as to what she was ringing for 2020. And now? Now it’s kind of hilarious in that creepy clown-laughing kind of way. I have, in fact, applied it to weekdays. And work meetings. And visits with friends (their house or mine, I’m not picky). I have extended the be more casual wardrobe to leggings and joggers. Yes, I know I’m probably too old/round/short/stout to wear either but eff that, they’re comfy and if you don’t like it, drink your milk. My wardrobe staples used to be regular jeans or formal jeans. It now extends into yoga pant types. There are yoga pants that stay at home (typically the ones without a pocket – which inevitably leads to my phone sliding down the inside of one leg several times a day because I’ve never adapted to storing it in my bra). There are yoga pants that could, theoretically, pass for actual skinny somethings that can go from slipper-wear to boots and a sweater-wear in about five seconds. Thank you, Lilly Pulitzer, for sponsoring my 2020 wardrobe. I have spent more on these workout/daywear/nightwear/yoga wonders this year than in the entirety of my life – because, you know what? They make me feel good.

Which seems to have become fairly important this year.

The only two things standing in my way from retiring button pants altogether are my son and my yardstick. And while I am not overly concerned with my son’s opinion on my attire – I did spend years (yeeeeeaaaaaarrrrrrs) getting him out of his hobo wardrobe of a tank top, basketball shorts and Crocs, circa ages seven to ten. I spend years watching him travel through the five stages of kid clothing grief – tantrum, screaming, laying prone while flailing, breaking the heels on actual shoes and, well, telling on me to his grandmother. We made it out on the other end – the pendulum swinging so far to real clothes that I’m not even sure he owns anything with an elastic waistband anymore. I noted with 2019 pride, that, when approaching a departure from our house, he would quickly put on an in-public outfit. Now I note with 2020 annoyance, that if he happens to see me heading out in my yoga pants (which he does, as it is 2020 and he’s here all the time), I often hear a quiet, uh, is that what you’re wearing? It is quiet because he is sweet. It is asked because he is my child. It is typically answered with a perhaps enthusiastic Oh, this?! Ha! No, no – just wanted to put my purse, keys, and sunglasses in the already running car before I change. You know, get that motor revving so it’s all set once I put on my actual pants. And maybe underwear. BRB!

My yardstick? That’s actually the more important reason – I’ve found that yoga pants and sweats are not only extremely comfortable, but also extremely forgiving. I mean like – they are more forgiving than John on a busy day at the river. Cake? No problem, we still fit! Haven’t worked out in weeks? It’s cool, elastic – hop right in! Trifecta Tour? Breakfast, lunch and dinner out? Brilliant! We got your back! Both folds! And while I appreciate finally finding a consistent do-what-you-want support system… I’m also aware that I need to visit the devil on my shoulder now and then. So, yes, the button pants remain in my closet for purposes having to do with the Covid diet plan and my refusal to get on a scale anymore this year. Just no. I think we are all on the same page, right? This year’s Keto is Covid? And once we get off Covid, we’ll maybe see our feet again? Confirm that we aren’t still wearing slippers? It’s okay if I put several snug pairs of buttons pants to the back of the closet, right? The ones that weren’t interested in hearing about the stresses of the last 72 months?

Of all my 2020 goals, I’d say be more casual is the one I nailed the most. Which is only slightly terrifying because, as we ring in 2021, I’m wondering how much lower I can go in my wardrobe. I guess I probably need to swing the pendulum again – maybe set a mid-day alarm to put on dinner wear. Try on some shoes with laces and or buckles. And while I’ll (maybe) spruce up the daily uniform, I will try not to swing it back in the general attitude about life department. Because while my wear has taken a more laid back approach, so has my care. Things just weren’t so bothersome once I started to lean into the pandemic and the lockdown and the political nonsense and this state was burning down or that Iranian leader may start a third world war. And by lean in – I mean, I really leaned out. I stopped watching the news regularly – more of a glimpse here, peek there – oh, okay, got it, we’re still wearing masks, Harry & Megan are doing well, we’re pretending we don’t have a winner, aaaaand move on. I stopped engaging quite so frequently on social media – even *gasp* ‘snoozing’ many friends and then *gasp again* removing them from my feeds altogether. Not as a signal that we can’t be friends in real life – but as a signal that sometimes putting a keyboard in the middle of a friendship is the worst possible idea. I try (not always successful) not to ride the kids as much – understanding that there are things and then there are big things – worry about the big things – let the regular things shake themselves out. I began using the phrase okay, sounds good when I felt myself getting pulled into something I wasn’t interested in debating. Just not worth the effort of being exasperated in a year when I’ve realized that many people value hearing their own opinion more than preserving relationships.

I have high hopes for next year – I think we all do – one of which is an ability to go to a store and not feel like frogger zipping through at top speed while avoiding anybody who is breathing along the way. You know, go out in public at a stop-to-smell-the-roses pace. Start using dressing rooms and stop ordering shoes by mail in several sizes for a living room try on session. Reactivate the ability to post a family picture without wondering whose judging eyes are going to count the number of participants and space between them. And maybe, as we work our way back to normalcy, be it at the beginning of next year or the end, maybe we can all start having a more casual approach towards each other. Treat our relationships more like the sweatpants they deserve to be – comfortable, forgiving, easy to move in to, easy to move out of and easy to return to on the days when we need something soft and snuggly and secure.

Keep your yardsticks close – but keep your standbys closer. Those are the ones that you’ll want in the rough spots.

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