Resolutions shmesolutions!










Every day is the beginning of a new year.

I just realized that and Iʼm rather impressed with the depth of that assessment. Why is it that we all wait until December 31st to declare our failures, faults and foibles? I for one have the uncanny ability to notice every flaw about myself on a daily basis. I eat too much chocolate. I yell at my kids. I forget birthdays, flake out on lunch dates, hurt peopleʼs feelings. Itʼs a curse being so self-critical. But at least Iʼm honest.

There also happens to be a silver lining to my day to day fault-finding compulsion. You see, I also have the capacity to start anew, each and every day. And I take full advantage of that capability. In fact, I resign each and every night to love my kids better, to cherish my husband more, to appreciate the simple moments that comprise my all too complicated days.

Waiting for December 31st seems like a colossal waste of time to me. Plus, once a year resolutions are merely a way to set yourself up for failure. If you only go on that diet once every 365 days, youʼre bound to pork out and let yourself down at some point. Then youʼve got to wait another 8 months or 23 pounds (whichever comes first) to start starving yourself again? Thatʼs ridiculous. Iʼd rather enjoy my culinary bender, knowing full well that I can embark on my healthy eating campaign anew the next morrow.

If you act like a jerk on the freeway, cutting someone off either purposely or inadvertently, do you spend the rest of the year following suit until December 31st arrives? Then, and only then, do you pledge to be a better driver, with an improved attitude and kinder disposition? Why not recognize the error of your ways, and correct your rude behavior by the time you get to the next exit?

Or what if you joined a gym as part of your last New Yearʼs resolution and only frequented the joint a few times in January? Should you throw up your arms in defeat and wait until next January to kick your couch potato butt into action? Absurd I say. Go take a walk today, run to the mailbox two or three times, try a free Zoomba class at the Y. Get your body moving any way you can.

So, not that you asked me, hereʼs my suggestion for your 2013 list of New Yearʼs resolutions. Resolve to face yourself in the mirror every morning and not run away from whomever you see. Notice the blemishes, the wrinkles, the age spots. Then challenge yourself to accept who you see, to improve the things you can, and to recognize that weʼre all just a mess of imperfections, trying to do our best and often falling just a little bit short.
Happy New Year.

Just desserts

I am crushed. I just discovered a betrayal of monumental proportion. My favorite restaurant is deliberately utilizing sophisticated, pre-meditated, cognitive techniques in order to manipulate my behavior and psychologically pressure me into doing what they want me to do. This is one of those horrifying realities you try hard not to believe. But at a certain point, you can no longer deny the subversive tactics being employed against you.

I have a favorite eatery. It is one of those restaurants I never tire of frequenting. Their food is delicious, relatively low cal, fresh, filling and nutritious. And they have fabulous desserts. The greatest thing about their desserts is that nothing is ever over 475 calories. Plus the desserts are incredibly eye-pleasing, decadent and small enough to avoid any kind of post-repast guilt or remorse. I always order dessert at this restaurant. Until yesterday.

Yesterday I met my mom and sister-in-law at my fave spot late in the afternoon. I just wanted coffee since I’d eaten several hours earlier. But both of them were hungry and ordered lunch. After they’d finished eating and our table had been cleared, our server came by, dessert tray in hand, and began laying out clean napkins and silverware for dessert. “I don’t think anyone is going to indulge,” I kindly remarked to save him the trouble of replacing all of the utensils and painstakingly describing each of the 10 stunning desserts before us.

He continued placing the silverware, though, as if he hadn’t heard me. My sister-in-law chimed in, “I don’t think we’re going to order dessert.” Again he ignored us and started to describe the first item on the tray, a healthy peach melba housed in a miniature shot glass.

It was then that I realized something astounding. I felt guilty. I felt guilty that he’d gone to all that trouble to lay out the table for dessert and I suddenly felt compelled, out of some kind of misguided sense of duty, to indulge in one of the tiny, tasty treats. I didn’t actually want to eat dessert. I’ve been very disciplined the last few days, adhering to my daily weight watcher point limit. Dessert was the farthest thing from my mind. But I was going to order one simply because I suddenly felt compelled to not hurt his feelings. Rationally, I realized the absurdity of this. But emotionally I’d been hooked. This realization, however, ignited my inner will. “We don’t want dessert!” I announced emphatically.

The server was taken aback by my assertive stance. He looked stunned, and hurt, like I’d shocked him, wounded him, rudely interrupted him. “But I have to finish,” he stammered. “It’s restaurant policy.” And at that moment, everything became clear. “You mean, that’s why you kept placing the dessert spoons and napkins on the table even though we said we didn’t want anything?” I inquired. Then he confessed, “Oh yeah. There’s a whole psychology to getting people to order dessert.”

Feeling guilty? Try not ordering one.

“Please don’t tell anyone,” he fearfully implored, “And if anyone asks, I did describe every dessert. OK?” We assured him of our loyalty and he defeatedly collected the spoons, napkins, and dessert tray and slunk away. His disappointment was palpable.

My sister-in-law picked up the tab. I bet she left him a hefty tip in response to his despondent demeanor. But wait a minute, maybe that was simply another form of emotional manipulation. Maybe he was merely feigning dismay in order to secure a few more gratuity percentage points. I wouldn’t put it past him.

It really is true. Once trust is destroyed in a relationship you can never go back.

A spoonful of chocolate helps the medicine go down

What mom? I didn't have any chocolate. Really.

Ah, “Love and Logic,” the parenting protocol based on natural consequences. Where you don’t fight. You don’t negotiate. You don’t even engage in power struggles. You simply allow consequences to occur as they would in real life. Sounds fairly simple. Until it involves the dreaded, delectably delicious cocoa bean.

Seriously, I stumbled into hell on this lesson. My 11 year old son, Levi, was in his school play last week. As a special opening night gift, we gave him one of those ginormous dark chocolate bars that realistically could serve as dessert for a dinner party of 40 people. We’re not usually big fans of food rewards, but we made an exception this time and he was elated.

He carefully gnawed away at it over the week, demonstrating remarkable self control. He never had more than a square at a time, only allowed himself his small portion after meals, and generously shared with all who asked. Everything was going splendidly. Until the other day.

As we were leaving for school, I noticed a hunk of chocolate in his hand. “Not in the morning,” I gently reminded. “O.K.,” he answered. He then proceeded to bite off a chunk of it, his back turned to me, and pretended to return it in its entirety to the fridge. My 
“Love and Logic” voice kicked in. “Ohhhhhhh…,” I softly murmured. “Bad choice.”

Now my children have learned to dread these types of soothing sighs and understated comments about their choices. They know that when they hear those, the other shoe is surely going to drop, even if they can’t predict when, where or how. Levi started back-pedaling immediately. “What?” he challenged, “I put it back. Come on, mom. What did I do?” Like a well scripted actor, I merely repeated the lines Id been rehearsing for all these months. “Not to worry, sweetie.” And off to school we went.

When I got home later that morning, I knew what had to be done. I also knew that given my affinity for the dark, rich indulgence, this was going to be a challenge. But I powered on, opening the fridge and directly confronting the thick, Belgian, beauty, stoically staring back at me with those wide, innocent squares, and sweetly alluring scent. I cradled it into my arms, my heart filled with as much sorrow as Abraham must have felt on Mount Moriah as he prepared to sacrifice his beloved Isaac. “No,” I lamented as I dropped the edible delicacy unceremoniously into the garbage can. There was no turning back.

No one ever said motherhood was going to be easy. But I never imagined It would test me like this. One can only hope that lessons of this depth will need only to be learned once.