Thursday, January 3, 2019

Adulting 101: The Guilt of Resolutions

"What are your resolutions for the New Year?"

There is no question asked, every January, that strikes more fear in the hearts of adults.  If you say that you don't "do" resolutions, you get a lecture about adults and goal setting. If you stammer out some sort of sentence that resembles a goal, then you get an interrogation regarding the best way to formulate a resolution, because yours is terrible.  It's definitely a no-win, all around, especially if the person lecturing you is not the paragon of virtue they are pretending to be. 

You know who you are.  

When I first became an adult, and everyone started pestering me about resolutions, I was willing to give them a try. Create a grand goal toward the betterment of myself as a person?  Count me in, fellow adults!  I resolved to lose 47 pounds and be more tolerant of stupidity.  Easy, right?  Nope.  Too lofty, I was told.  Too unrealistic.  Fine, I grumbled.  I'll just lose the 47 pounds. Wait, now I actually have to DO this thing?

I started off the year on a good note, buying healthy food and setting up an exercise program. I was proud of myself.   By January 5th, I'd skipped at least one workout and eaten half a dozen donuts that someone left at work.

That's when the guilt sets in. Tremendous guilt. Your brain castigates you for not having any will power:  Why can't you just walk away from the donuts?  You didn't even let your coworkers get one! Shame! Shame! Shame! What is wrong with you, Fatty McThunderthighs?  If your brain is like mine, you may be able to rally your resolve for a few days longer.  You may even make it to the end of the the month.  Sooner or later, though, you've dropped all your resolutions and dissolved into a messy puddle of guilt and melted ice cream. I'm a terrible adult, I've told myself, wallowing in self-pity. 

Why?  Because someone told you that you should?  Because some sort of artificial establishment of society says that I have to?  Because you're an adult and that is what adults do? 

No.  The thing about being an adult is that YOU get to decide what works for YOU.  Are you the goal setting type?  That is wonderful!  Go for it!  Have a short attention span?  Maybe set up some micro resolutions that can be met weekly or even daily.  Tend to eat your feelings?  Focus on eating more fruits and veggies instead.  There's no guilt involved.  It's a resolution, not an all-or-nothing scenario.

Failure will happen, yes. This is part of being an adult. If everyone reached their goal on the first day of January, there wouldn't be this billion dollar industry set up around resolutions.  If you don't meet your goal today, you get to try again, and again, until you reach that goal or you decide to try something different.  Get up, dust yourself off, and do your best.  Don't worry about the top of the mountain, just focus on the climb. 

One rock at a time, until you get there, however long it takes.   That's what adults do.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Adulting 101: Your Parents Are Google.

Adulting is a verb right now.  I'm pretty sure that this version of  "adulting"  is the equivalent of "manning up", or "putting on your big girl panties".  Behaving in an appropriate manner in public, for example.  Making the difficult decision about whether to eat or pay the electric bill.  Talking to your children about sex without giggling.  Figuring out which end to put the diaper on.  Important, but life changing, information.

It used to be that kids learned these adulting secrets by watching their parents.  When moms stayed at home, back before electricity, her children got to see her perform a variety of tasks, such as cooking, household management, and childcare.  Dads, when they weren't at work, usually demonstrated basic lawn maintenance, the proper posture required for watching Sunday football, and how to change your own oil.  Theoretically, your parents should be preparing you to be an adult. When you hit that magic age where you move out on your own, it is expected that you will be able to handle everything.

This is nothing but a baldfaced lie.

There are just too many concepts and ideas for parents to teach their children in a single lifetime. It's impossible to even anticipate all of the even remotely probable events that will happen in one lifetime.  The reality is that, no matter how old you may be, you still need the older generation.  I am in my 50s.  People ask me stuff all the time, and I know the answers.  If you have a child in need of special education, I'm the woman to ask.  If you're interested in obscure facts or historical events, I'm the go-to.  I know way more about serial killers than is probably normal.  I can also tell you if you need to go see a doctor for various random ailments.  Just don't ask me which settings on the washer will remove ring-around-the-collar. I don't even know what that is.

I STILL call my parents to ask them stuff.  Just last night, I sent my mom a very important text:

"Can you freeze ham*?"

I've called my mother many times, not to chat(we aren't a chatty family), but for many crises in my life:

"The recipe calls for one egg, but when I cracked the egg, there were two yolks.  What does that mean?"  

"How do I keep from setting the kitchen on fire?"

"Can the baby eat strawberries/watermelon/broccoli/whatever, or is he too young?" 

"Is there a way to clean baby poop out of the tub, or do we have to move?"

My dad is not exempt from these calls or texts, either:

"There's a snake over here, Dad.  Looks rattlesnake-ish, but no rattle.  Run, or pick it up and throw over the fence?"

"Hey Dad, which wrench do I use to turn off the water to the house? And do you know a good plumber?"

If you think about it a moment, our parents are exactly what Google and other companies are trying to market.  If Alexa not only told you the weather, but also reminded you to put on a jacket so you don't get sick, that would be my mom.  Or your mom. We will always want to ask our parents for the answers, in most cases, even when we are supposed to be "adults".  There's something comforting about being able to pick up the phone, and it is depressing to think that someday a parent won't be around to answer the phone or texts.   Maybe Google will one day offer an option, where you can have your mom's voice answer you instead of  Alexa.

Although MY mom's voice would also be telling me, unsolicited, that my house is a mess, and that I should dust the ceiling fans, fer cryin' out loud.   Adulting is hard, but we don't always have to do it all alone.  Call or text your parents. Ask them all those nagging questions about eggs, and ham, and home maintenance, that you think that you're supposed to know.  Heck, even ask them what ring-around-the-collar is.  It will make them feel needed, and you will learn something that may prove useful later, when your own children are calling to ask these same questions.

**For the twenty or so readers who are waiting for the answer, yes, you can freeze ham, and no, you don't have to double the recipe if there's two yolks in one egg. And Clorox cures a multitude of ills, apparently.   

Friday, November 16, 2018

No Cone of Shame for Cats

One of my favorite movies, Up, has a scene involving the "Cone of Shame".  When the main dog character, Dug, does something wrong, the other dogs make him wear it, and he feels terrible.  Dug is such a people pleaser, a good boy, that he can't bear to disappoint anyone.  The Cone is actually the plastic cone that the vet puts on dogs to keep them from fussing with their stitches after surgery.  It's necessary for good healing, although the dogs don't like it.  It smells funny, and it makes moving around difficult.  It also provides many amusing moments for dog owners, and occasionally a viral video for the internet. 

Cats are not people pleasers.  This is part of the reason why we adore them.  When a cat does something wrong, they don't cower and act chastised.  It's not their nature.  Cats do not exhibit the behavior we consider to be shame.  They feel that they've groveled enough just allowing us to exist, and we had better not forget it.  

Cats sometimes come home from the vet wearing a cone.  Our cat Bella, who was just spayed this week, came home wearing a cone.  The vet tech told us that she needed to wear the cone for 7 days.   We were to keep Bella quiet and still, while she was recovering from surgery, the vet said.  No jumping.  No running. No late night cheeseburgers. 

We intended to follow the doctor's orders. We brought our precious cargo into the house, and opened the crate door.  Maisy, our lab mix, was curious about the new smells coming from the crate, and leaned in to investigate.  Bella stumbled out, still groggy from the anesthesia. The sight of a huge black dog, even one she knew, had her running,  The cone gave Bella a lean to starboard, and her feet were carrying her in the opposite direction from where she wanted to go.  Bella was still groggy, and did not even seem to be aware of the cone around her neck. So we let her sit on her perch, once she got up there, and Bella fell asleep with the cone supporting her head.  Once she woke up, she realized that there was something around her neck that was just, NOT.

Not supposed to be there.  Not supposed to exist.   Not allowed.  No way.  Nope.

The battle was on.  Bella growled, an unearthly sound for such a tiny cat.   Maisy and the other two cats found places to watch the show.  Then there was some running about, lots of jumping and leaping, and So. Much. Noise.  She was too fast to catch, even for Zane, who will be the only one in the family to survive the zombie apocalypse.  Bella was as determined as a year old cat who just got spayed can be.  All we could do was follow her around the house in procession as she ran amok. Before our eyes, the string that was keeping the cone around her neck was gone, and nobody had any idea where, or when, it had disappeared. While we were processing that information,  Bella rounded a corner and the cone was...gone.  Problem solved.  She skidded to a stop, glared at us, and began grooming her paws.  We all waited for another hubbub to occur.

She was quiet and still the rest of the night.