I received a few texts before midnight, from different corners of the country, sincerely wishing me a happy new year. I felt cared for. I spent the evening with a divorced woman and a single woman. We are the Sorts of People Who Don’t Get Invited to New Year’s Eve Shindigs. So we mixed up some Old Fashioneds and watched a madcap 60s movie. I was so comfortable in my friend’s cushy chair that I dozed off 2 or 3 times. Still, I enjoyed the movie very much. It’s the most relaxed I’ve felt this holiday season.
I awoke today to a new year, and to my same old life. I felt so restive yet incompetent. I needed to tidy up my room and the bathroom, which had two clogged toilets the past few days. It was only about 40 minutes of work, but I couldn’t get started. I’d walk into the bathroom, gauge the tasks, then leave, defeated. I felt like Julianne Moore’s depressed housewife in The Hours, when she tries to bake a cake and it’s so hard.
I’m not depressed. But I’m so overwhelmed that the simplest tasks can be so daunting. I summoned enough energy to shower, and I let myself have a good cry. Daughter heard me. She dashed downstairs and brewed a pot of coffee. Son heated up a can of chili. I know that my children are not responsible for me, but these were acts of kindness. I accepted, graciously. Then I felt pumped up enough to get ‘er done. I got on my hands and knees and scrubbed the bathroom floor (and the plungers–eew!), and gathered up all the towels that had valiantly soaked up the toilet overflow. I got a few other basic household chores done. Things are looking good. I can go back to work feeling like things are in order.
This season just wore me down. As much as I avoided festivities, traveling, and zaniness, the mere presence of the holiday was relentless. My kids were falling apart. I was holding down the fort and holding up our spirits. Today, I simply capitulated. I’ve got nothing left to give, nothing left to withstand my loved ones’ pain, or everyone else’s happiness. I want to hope for a better year, and I felt a glimmer of hope when I got those texts and considered that 2013 would be better, and I have these lovely people in my life, but I’m still living one day at a time. There’s not a lot of space for hope. There’s just today, and today was rough.
Nevertheless, I have enough remnants of good humor to know that I ought to snap out of it. And so I will draw a lesson from the sassiest widow around, who can bake a cake like nobody’s business: