Happy New Year. New year…

Finish the sentence.

What was the first thing that came to mind when you read the title?

Most of us probably thought new year, new me. The classic saying everyone says as they enter the new year with the hope that this will be true. Hopeful that somehow, someway, the ringing of a new year will bring about some magical changes. We will somehow be reprogrammed into a new person by the clock striking 12:01. It’s like the fairytale stories we all grew up on. The clock strikes 12, and everything changes. I think it’s safe to say that isn’t reality. Most, if not all, of us, go into the New year with the same habits, same thoughts, same behaviors, same patterns, same baggage, and same trauma. It’s new year, new masks. We will find a new mask to cover the reality and hide the truths. A new way to run from the truth that is staring us in the face, whatever that truth may be.

I brought this new year in scrambling trying to log in to my direct tv stream, so my family and I could do the traditional ball drop countdown and toast to the new year. It was a failure. I couldn’t remember the login, I couldn’t get the app to work, I lost track of time and looked up, and it was 11:56. We didn’t have our glasses ready for the toast, and everyone was running around doing their own thing. As I tried to gather all the kids, login into the app, and get glasses together, the clock kept ticking, and before I knew it, it was 2023. Just like that, we missed it. No grand finale, cheers, spectacles, excitement, traditions, or memories were made. Time didn’t wait. 2023 didn’t wait. I ended 2022 and started 2023 the same. Frantic, scattered, and trying too hard. New year, same me.

My gut instinct was to slump into defeat, guilt, and victim mode. I wanted to complain, curse, and cry. But I didn’t. Ok, well, I might have cried later that morning. But I didn’t slump. New year, new habits. I realized that I ended 2022 breaking every tradition I have worked so hard to maintain. Every mask I have worn was ripped off my face in 2022, and no matter how hard I try to fumble around and put the final mask on, the universe said nope. There will be no masks going into 2023. It hurt. I can’t lie. It hurt like hell.

This reality was like ripping a bandaid off. I knew, eventually, the bandaid would have to come off, but the bandaid had also become a part of me, my identity. The funny thing about this irony is I fight hard to maintain traditions, and I fight hard to break family traditions to break generational curses. It’s a catch-22. I had to ask myself how many of these traditions my kids will carry on and how many they will leave in childhood and fight hard to create their own traditions. Why are traditions so important anyway?

You see, the thing is, the masks I wear wouldn’t be deemed bad masks. In fact, so many people praise these masks. We are applauded for putting up all the Christmas decorations and making our kids wear Christmas PJs. We are praised for making our kids go to bed at the same time every night and reading bedtime stories, even if we are exhausted. We are told we are good parents for keeping our kids booked and busy, even at the expense of their mental health and ours. These masks aren’t “bad” masks. Most people probably wouldn’t even see them as masks. I would challenge these people by asking how often they finish reading a bedtime story and then feel frustrated because their child wants to hear it again or they are just ready to go to bed. How often do you want to skip little league practice or tell that one annoying team parent to leave you alone you don’t want to bring juice boxes? How often do you end your day wondering if you even ate, showered, had any me time, or just pure silence?

Ending 2022, still trying to do all the traditional things even though I would have liked to curl up in my pajamas with my husband, watch movies in bed all day, and let the kids rip the apartment to shreds was me trying to put on masks. Mask my desire to spend some quiet time in bed with my husband. Not accomplishing that goal or the mask’s goal and 2023 still being like hey girl, hey, was an awakening for me. Life is going to happen masked or unmasked. How I show up to life is up to me.

Traditions are a figment of our reality and perspectives. They are indifferent and irrelevant in the big scheme of things. None of it really mattered. What mattered and was most important at that moment was that we were together. My family was in a tiny little apartment, laughing and playing games. Time didn’t really matter. We could’ve let time pass us by and stayed engrossed in the fun we were having. I could’ve curled up with my husband and “neglected” my kids for one day, and they would have remembered New Years’ eve, where they partied and ate all the snacks unsupervised while their parents cuddled and rested in the next room. Either of these would’ve been ok. Because even though I stumbled my way into 2023, it was STILL ok.

What does this mean for 2023? New year… new trials, new ebbs, new struggles, new failures, new tears, new woes, new fears. New perspectives. New habits. No masks.

Welcome to 2023, the year of nothing changes but everything.

My word for 2023 is Matter.

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