Never, never, never give up (a quitter’s resolution)
I’ll just say it: I wanted to quit this blog.
I haven’t written a post in almost three months. Let me revise that: I haven’t posted anything in three months. I wrote stuff here and there, but nothing that felt worth sharing. I felt blah about writing, and I had plenty of excuses for not doing it: I was working, then it was Thanksgiving, Christmas, the kids home on winter break, Noah’s birthday (6!), complete with Minion-themed everything, the rush back to school.
And then…quiet. My old routine came back: Noah getting on the bus at 8:00 every morning and returning at 4:00, Rory in school three mornings a week, two hours in the afternoon while he napped to do whatever I wanted.
And so at 2:00 the day after the kids went back to school, I sat down on the couch with a cup of coffee and a leftover Christmas cookie intending to write.
I checked my email and clicked through to the deals at Loft and went back to email clicked through to some posts on my Bloglovin’ feed and looked and Facebook and Twitter and got another cookie and then it was 3:00.
Finally I opened up Hot Breakfast and started to write. I was going to do a new year’s resolutions post (you know I love my resolutions), but I wanted to look back on 2014 first, so I started there. It wasn’t inspired, but it was doing something. Noah came home at 4:00 and I had to put it away, but I thought some more that night about how I might structure the post.
Wednesday, I wrote a little bit more.
And then Thursday I went through the same routine: the coffee and the cookies (you might be getting some ideas of what my 2015 resolutions need to be) and the Facebook and the Twitter and the online shopping (wait, weren’t these all my resolutions last year?) and finally opened up the blog post to keep writing.
Everything I had written was gone.
Now this has happened to me before: plenty of times in college, when I truly had no idea how computers worked, and I was always running a floppy disk to the computer lab to find there was nothing on it, or having those same computer lab machines freeze up at 2 a.m. and obliterate a philosophy paper that was due at 10:00 the next day.
More recently at work, PowerPoint presentations and carefully-and-nervously-worded client emails have gone the way of the dodo at the worst possible moment, resulting in shipyard-level cursing and and howling and a general “I quit forever” attitude.
So the disappearance of a few paragraphs about 2014 that I wasn’t getting paid to write and weren’t due to anyone shouldn’t have been a big deal. But nonetheless, sitting on the couch in the cold, quiet house in yoga pants and Isotoner slippers, I shut my computer and whispered “Fuck it.”
I spent the next 30 minutes reading a book. (Reading! A book! In silence!)
And for the next week, I didn’t even attempt to write.
You’d think this would have been liberating. One less thing on a to-do list already overrun with bathrooms to clean and lunches to make and laundry to fold and Legos to step on.
But instead, I fell into a funk.
Because I missed writing. I missed the ritual and how writing about things gives me new perspective on them. I missed the sharing part of it, too, the conversations it sparked with you guys.
And I was mad at myself for wanting to quit, because after decades of answering the question “What are you passionate about?” with a shrug (apparently “donuts” doesn’t count), I had found it in writing.
You might remember that I was inspired by “The Happiness Project” (and a layoff) to start writing regularly back in July 2013.
And it’s funny that in just re-reading that post, I realized that I closed it with the same quote by Gretchen Rubin that I was about to use now: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
And not letting perfectionism get in the way of progress is about more than me now. It’s about being an example.
For Christmas, “Santa” (I use quotes because I’m still slightly resentful of all the credit Santa is getting for this gift) brought Noah the toy he’s been begging for since summer: a Lego police station. It’s a “ten bag!” monstrosity of a jail and office and robbers and a helicopter landing pad.
Noah started putting it together the minute we were done opening gifts on Christmas morning, and worked steadily though the day, turning down suggestions to go outside, offers of food and demands to use the bathroom.
And then, somewhere around bag eight, disaster struck. I wasn’t there when it happened, I just heard the crash, the cry.
He had bumped into the police station, knocking off the top half. He was despondent.
It couldn’t be fixed, he declared. “It’s ruined!”
Pat and I tried every approach we could think of. Our pep talks were met with a hysterical “I can’t!!” Trying to calmly strategize with him how he might get started only made it worse, reminded him of the broken mess of Legos next to his bed that he had been trying to forget.
“Take it back!” he sobbed. “The only way I can do it is if I can start with a new one!”
Well, that wasn’t going to happen.
So we ignored him. A week went by. Then another week. The police station sat crumbled on his bedroom floor like ancient ruins as he built new things around them. A restaurant. A dog park. A power station.
And then, one day he came out of his room looking pleased.
“I did it,” he said.
“I finished the police station.”
“Oh, wow!” I said. I didn’t want to make too big of a deal of it, to trigger another meltdown. But I wanted him to know how proud of him I was that he finished the job he started.
“I just did it.”
So, after licking my wounds for the last week, like Noah, I decided to just do it. To sit down and write this post. To hit “publish” before Noah gets home from school. To not give up on something that means so much to me just because it’s hard.
To keep trying, even if the resolution I make every year is the same: to do the best I can each day, even if it’s in the form of tiny, imperfect steps forward. To keep going, knowing that some days, that alone is enough of an accomplishment. To not quit.