This year I am going to get dressed.
My days-late resolution seems tiny compared to the more ambitious goals I've seen this week. If I'm to believe social media, many of you are losing twenty pounds, writing books, living with intention, and changing the world.
I'm just going to get dressed.
In the inaugural episode of the Ezra Klein show, guest Rachel Maddow revealed that to finish her dissertation, she made herself as miserable and uncomfortable as possible in order to finish. She's carried that spirit to her television show: "I don't let myself pee until I've edited the B block. And maybe it's gonna take three hours to edit the B block. I'm just gonna suffer through it." In my post-pregnancy life, Maddow's strategy is inadvisable, but I do have a similar self-imposed rule: I don't get out of my pajamas until I've finished a key writing task.
I hate being in my pajamas during the day time, a hate developed when, like Rachel, I had a dissertation to complete. I would not get dressed until the day's writing was done, which often meant being in pajamas until after lunch...and sometimes just before dinner. Pajamas have for me become a sign of defeat, a visual reminder of what I have not yet accomplished.
I've stuck to my pajama routine even after a baby meant less daily writing time. I tiptoe out to the office in my pajamas in the pre-dawn hours, stopping only for coffee or water for fear that any noise might wake the two-year-old before I've had my precious hour of writing time.
With so many new writing goals accomplished, I should be changing those pajamas with pride every morning. And yet, once D is up and the day's chaos begins, getting dressed seems so unpractical, because while my pajamas are relatively snot-and-breakfast-repellent, most of my sweaters are not. When I do get dressed, my clothes are nearly always soiled within the first hour, which just means fuller laundry bins, which just means more loads to forget in the washing machine, which just means the hills of clean laundry on my closet floor become mountains.
All of this changed yesterday morning at 9:30. I looked down at the robe that, when fluffy and white, was a cozy welcome to a newborn brought home in the subzero weeks of winter, but which had dulled to the color and texture of weeks-old snow. I announced that we were getting dressed.
I sent D upstairs to pick out his ensemble, which I knew would give me a solid 10 minutes to get ready, 20 if he got distracted by a toy en route. I left the breakfast crumbs on the counter next to the previous night's dinner's dishes, stepped over the letter magnets spelled out across the living room floor, ignored the unmade bed that is a daily source of martial strife, and stepped into my closet. I pulled a sweater and skinny jeans from the clean laundry mountain.
I could hear D happily tapping his closet shelves with tiny clothes hangers, so I breezed past the accumulated mouthwash stains and shaving remnants in my husband's sink and brushed. And flossed. I attempted a tucked-in braid, which meant hunting down the hair clips I bought in last year's delusional attempt at daily styling.
The sweater was stained within the hour. The braid, a source of fascination for D, lasted just minutes. But getting dressed felt great. It was a visual reminder that I'd already accomplished what I'd set out to do and that everything else I accomplished that day was just bonus.
This morning, after D had finished his selections off today's breakfast menu (a well-intentioned parenting ploy gone awry), I reminded him that yesterday we'd had breakfast and then gotten dressed. He ran right upstairs. I wasn't yet out of the bathroom when I head him squealing about a stuck pajama top. But I waited him out and while he ran naked through the playroom I got dressed, folded a little of that laundry, and listened to last night's Rachel.
It occurred to me that as much as I'm getting from getting dressed, D is getting more. When stuck in the day-to-day, it's easy to miss what our kids are increasingly capable of. As it turns out, he can remove (most) of his clothes, pick out his new clothes, and hide those clothes around the playroom. Knowing that he can happily entertain himself for twenty minutes helped me remember that a few unboxing videos would let me enjoy a hot cup of tea, that a failed nap could be quiet reading time on the couch for both of us, that we could retreat to our separate corners in the afternoon for a slice of alone time.
This resolution might stick.