New year, clean slate

Photo by Seth Quackenbush

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I love a new year. I love the clean slate, the fresh start and all of the symbolism that comes with it. I like looking back at last year’s highs and lows. I like the process of realizing what I’ve let go of and what I’ve held onto.

It also doesn’t hurt that a new year gives me an excuse to dig deep into my Virgo soul and vacuum behind the dryer. Organize the bathroom cabinets. Clear off the refrigerator. Organize the junk drawer. It’s a free pass, a ticket to ride. I relish every stack of papers that lands in the burn pile, every floor swept, every cupboard organized. When everything is perfectly in its place on New Year’s Day I look around at the three people living with me. They look back with serious WTF expressions.

I am a neatnik, an organization junkie. My children -- they are, well, not. Neither is my husband. But they put up with me anyway.

They, at least, keep the eye rolling to a minimum when I ask them to keep their clothes organized in their drawers by sleeve length and soft versus denim pants. This organization system never happens by the way, but I can dream. They placate me and only whine a little when I ask them to pick up their coats and move their snow boots to the front door. They pretend to care, when they really, really don’t, about the plastic bins I dug out of the garage to hold the bunnies’ (that’s right there’s two of them!) food and hay. When I stacked the bins up in the laundry room Eliza said, “Mom, that was a good idea” and I wondered if, for a moment, my eldest might have the bug too, the one that allows one to appreciate the perfect stacking of clear blue tubs in a swept clean corner. Then I tripped over her walking cast and realized the moment was fleeting.

But heading into a new year, I don’t actually care that my children throw everything under their bed when I ask them to clean their room. And I’m vowing to care even less. I’ve employed a new trick known to moms through the ages and it’s working perfectly. Seth’s stepmom was here the week before Christmas and she clued me into an amazing, life-altering possibility. When I walk by and see the Eliza’s crutches, for her multitude of fake injuries, lying on the floor or the dress up box tipped over, its contents strewn about the room from when Lucille was looking for that one outfit that happened to be lying at the bottome, I slide closed the door to their room and walk away.

Walk away, I said.

Earthshattering. Seriously.

And just like that, I let it go and am free to go back to pulling the books to the edge of the bookshelf so they line up in beautiful formation.

While letting my Virgo fly untethered and unencumbered yesterday, my hands were busy but my mind was left to wander. I thought about Lucille teaching herself to ride a bike last summer. Full of as much grit as a four-year-old can possess, she think-I-canned herself right up onto two wheels. I thought about Eliza walking the slick rock of Utah with her arm in a makeshift sling grinning when we called her John Wesley Quackenbush. I thought about how soft my grandmother’s hand was the last time I touched it and the tenderness my father showed her in her last days. I thought about Port Townsend and the weekend Seth and I spent there. I thought about this coming year and Lucille starting kindergarten, Eliza going to second grade and I wondered how, someone tell me how, that has happened so fast. These are the things I hold onto, and tightly, heading into 2013. With the door to my girls’ room closed, the kitchen counter spotless and my heart open wide, I’m ready for another year.