Actually, it's like having one of those magnifying, light-up mirrors, that talks. You know the kind? Fascinating. There's one in my hotel room when I go down to Palm Springs. I'll never buy one. NEVER. (Too much information about my pores and sun damage.) But I am horrified by them and drawn to those freak mirrors, equally.
Having kids is like a kind of mirror, too. As soon as something has to come out of my mouth as instruction to an impressionable young human, I have to actually decide if it's important to me or not. And seeing my own less-than desirable traits displayed in my kids? Big time motivation to change. I get convicted, as they say. I have to think about what kind of person I want them to be, and thus want to be myself. When Henry complains about feeding the dog every day after school, I know how he feels. I hate having to feed all the animals and people, sometimes. I put it off. I get lazy and I act like a bigger version of the butt he can be. I waste time. I do a lame job. It's so easy to point out to him that our dog needs his help in order to survive, so he better put up and get it over with. And then all of the sudden I feel like I complete baby for the fact that I'm not thrilled about roasting a turkey breast that night. And so it goes from there. Log in my own eye and all that.
I had a short phone conversation with K tonight while E and the kids were inside Toys R Us spending Christmas gift cards and rewards card points that were about to expire. I was about to expire, too, having just completed a full week of teaching after Christmas break on a less-full tank of calories (as I try hard to lose some mass). The four of us had been to sushi, then Old Navy, but I wasn't feeling like following my family around the store while they tried to look for whatever rare and unusual Skylanders might be shoved into the back of toy shelves behind ragged, half opened-returns.
Anyway. I called K to catch up while I sat in the car, and I starting prattling on about my day and about various opportunities to do things that have arisen since this morning. And dangit if she didn't remind me a few of the things I wrote down less than two weeks ago that I wanted to do, one of which was especially to say no to things that aren't my priority. To be honest about what I really want so I don't end up spending time doing things because I feel like I should. The other? Focusing on my writing as a career and an opportunity for (hopefully) gainful employment. And how maybe some of the things I was just blabbering through in my lazy way might not be in line with what I have been saying I want.
It's funny when you look at yourself and go, oh.
It's easy to think of goals in abstraction. Simple to say: sure, I'd like to be better at this, knock this off, do this in a year. But in terms of the real context of day-to-day life, I think it's a harder thing to see yourself. Really see how what you're doing lines up with what you want. Out of fear of not wanting to say the wrong thing, I think so many people hold back rather than being honest with us. I know I'm guilty of that too. But I think it's a really valuable thing to have a friend who can be a mirror to you. An important thing. A blessing.