The Sentient House and other things that stress me out in January.

Ah, January. It’s like Christmas for people who sell diet supplements and gym memberships and tupperware. It’s a new year, and time to reinvent ourselves. Or at least clean our lives out. How many of you have watched that Tidying Up show on Netflix? I was inspired to fill my bathroom drawers with tiny boxes and throw away a bunch of shoes, but my mother-in-law was disturbed at the idea of greeting her home… and I admit, it kinda gave me a haunted-house feeling myself. Something else criticizing me? No thanks. It’s like a Ray Bradbury story.

Anyway, it’s time to make resolutions, and for the next few weeks everyone will be lying about keeping them or struggling to make good on them. We’ll summon all the motivations necessary–guilt, fear of ridicule, positive music, daily planners, and vitamins that are supposed to help you think better. Maybe they do…I’m skeptical, but why not?

I haven’t really made any resolutions, because I have my hands full with The List. Now that Christmas is over and I’m home in Texas under a pile of dirty laundry, it’s back to the grind. And now that I’m a lifestyle expert (for those of you who haven’t heard…I’m a lifestyle expert now), I have to really jump into the year with a determined smile on my face as I meal prep and fix my hair everyday. The List beckons, as does competence, and I must follow, no matter how unappealing that sounds. There are minor problems with clothes that need to be fixed–one of the buttons popped off my coat. There is Christmas money that needs to be spent on healthy lunches for Andrew but also needs to be saved because his feet are growing faster than I thought (we wear the same socks now. I can’t win.) I’ve let two weeks go by without updating the blog, and it’s been ten days since anybody read any of it. 

Also, I miss my mother-in-law’s cooking, and so do Thom and Drew. The other night we had Tyson chicken and potatoes from a box. 

I lamented the state of my cooking, how almost none of the food we ate last night was fresh, and Thom told me not to worry. “You added broth to the potatoes! That’s something!”

“Thom, the broth ALSO comes from a box!” 

“Well…” he considered. I don’t remember what conclusion we came to, but Andrew barely touched his leftovers before begging to “go pway?” I know he means “play”, but it could also come out “pray”, and if he’s praying for his Mimi to suddenly appear and make him dinner, I don’t blame him, and when two or more are gathered… 

January is hard for me in another way…I’m actually pretty superstitious, and my anxiety runs riot in January. I know the Bible talks about not paying attention to “omens”, so this isn’t really something to joke about, but here we are. Me and my lack of faith, trying to grab hold of my life and control it. 

I mean, there’s a reason for these annual feelings of slight dread; it’s not just random hatred of a name on the calendar. A lot of disappointing things—and some downright heartbreaking things—have happened to me in Januarys past, so I’m always a little nervous when the year turns over. Add to that my terrible holiday eating habits and the fact that everybody’s sick, and you have a perfect storm of anxiety. 

And of course, there are only two things for that—Lexapro and prayer. 

Someday, if you want to have a long discussion with me about brain medicines and their relationship to faith and prayer and spiritual struggles, I’m happy to do so, although I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed—I’m not a theologian or a doctor. But every Christmas I forget to take my Lexapro for a few days, get really emotional, and have to admit that I need it (again). That I’m mentally a little bit broken and it helps me. And then I have to trust that the worries that remain when I’m properly medicated are worries that need to be turned over to God. I have to hear my husband interrupt my rants with the infuriating question, “Did you remember to take your medicine?” And I usually answer that no, I didn’t. And my pride takes another hit. 

Since the holidays mess up my routine in more ways than one, I guess I do make a resolution every January—to trust God and turn aside from superstition. Again. After all, most of the things that I was afraid of happening in Januarys past didn’t end up happening. And every January, I celebrate the time I was more wrong than ever before—that January of 2011 when I lived in fear of my boyfriend breaking up with me, and then he asked me to marry him. We’ll discuss that another time.

This post jumps around a lot, and I need to get back to being an organized adult…dishes and laundry and lesson plans and hanging up Drew’s pants now that he’s big and doesn’t use baby hangers anymore. But yes, I’ve taken my medicine. And it makes me able to sort the things that are real and the things that are just…well, noise in my brain. Like one of the drawers on Tidying Up, with similar things in tiny boxes—the things that don’t have to be thrown away. 

Thanks, Team 🙂 

PS: Now that I’m a lifestyle expert and you’re all clamoring for recipes and stuff, here’s my recipe for Potatoes from a Box:

Potatoes from a box—a weeknight treat for children that don’t know better and husbands who are too tired to notice what they’re eating…

  1. Gather together some butter, salt, and chicken broth.
  2. Open a box of those flaky instant potatoes.
  3. Follow the recipe on the back of the box, mostly. Spill like half of it on the floor, forget to sweep it up, and crunch around for 5 minutes on top of potato flakes, then sweep it up while the potatoes are boiling over.
  4. Instead of water, use broth.
  5. Add an approximate amount of butter—if it says “two tablespoons”, just grab like half a spoonful of butter.
  6. Mix. Serve to husband and children. Dare them to criticize. Goes best with Tyson chicken and shame. 

P.P.S. Obviously I jest, Thom and Drew and I all love boxed potatoes, but it’s true that a mom in this day and age in the US just CAN’T SEEM TO WIN. There isn’t enough time in the day to make a delicious dinner, clean the house, and give Drew all the attention he should have. And also work and make money and prove you’re employable. And shower. We can discuss all this later, but…sigh. Lifestyle expertise is hard. 

One Comment

  1. weavingroads

    Happy New Year! Thank you for sharing. I take Prozac ‘cause Lexapro makes me fat and then I become really depressed! Anyways, keep smilin’; you have a beautiful smile.


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