Things That Are Intended

I have a very vivid imagination. I can vividly see the end result of any undertaking that I decide is worth the effort, and sometimes it motivates me enough to follow through, cut a few corners, and end up with a result that is nothing like the original dream. Kind of like those Pinterest fails (go to this website, you'll thank me.) that we see pictures of. Josh didn't understand why I was laughing until I cried while I scrolled through other imaginative mom's attempts at something cute that resulted in a cataclysmic, but hilarious mess. It's so relatable. That's why it's funny. I live that. For me, dressing for work poses the exact same problem. I will lay in bed until the Last Possible Second, planning a new, edgy outfit to wear to work that day, get up, put at least most of the pieces of the outfit on my body, omitting the ones that have been wet in the washer for three days and should probably be run through again to kill the mold spores, and trying to cover the stains on some that I forgot happened when I was burning pinto beans and chocolate chip cookies yesterday. I make some passable (or so I think) substitutes and look in the mirror. It's at that point that I realized that the image I had in my head while lying in bed was of me 20 lbs from now and I forgot to stick to that diet that I think about so much that I can't understand why it's not working. Turns out thinking and doing are two totally separate things. The girl in the jerry-rigged outfit staring back from the mirror does NOT look good. She looks like a meatloaf wrapped in draperies and accessorized with Christmas tinsel. If I could take a picture of what I had imagined and put it next to the finished product, it would be just as funny as those Cookie Monster cupcakes that look like the dude on Raiders Of The Lost Ark with his face melting off.

Another area of imagination letdown is childrearing. For about 6 years (from just before Natalee was born until I got my first pair of designer jeans and moved on to more important aspirations) I woke up every morning with that 1970s Amy Grant song about Brand New Start Each Day (listen to this, you won't thank me) stuck in my head, trying to brush away the condemnation of my mothering faux pas from the day before and ready to conquer parenting for REALS this time. Some mornings I would even make breakfast, wash the dishes, and by 10 AM at the latest I was sidetracked by ANYTHING more interesting, which my kids would unavoidably interfere with, sending me into a downward spiral of frustration and poor verbal responses to my herd of toddlers. This pattern continued until I gave up the Brand New Start thing and just skipped straight to the frustration upon waking. It's much easier anyway, since few things irritate me as much as waking up.

It's hard, really, to think of an area in my life where this principle of failed intentions doesn't carry over. Certainly in the "customized" recipes I adapt to whatever isn't moldy in the refrigerator. And in the house cleaning that gets as far as a box of old photos I keep meaning to scan into the computer but can't stop looking at. Lately, even the errands that I run fall prey to a combination of laziness and/or forgetfulness, as I leave the house minus the things that I was supposed to have dropped off but can't remember why I showed up at a particular business anyway. I know that making lists is supposed to help all of this, but I have this tendency to forget my list. Even though it is on my iPhone, which we all know is never out of reach.

Also sewing. It turns out that cutting corners in sewing is almost always a recipe for certain disaster.

That old saying that "Good intentions pave the road to hell" carries profound truth. To an extent. No amount of WANTING to be a good mother, wife, housekeeper, cook, friend, or fashionista will make it so. Just the step by step DOING of it. One little choice at a time. Don't yell at Aspen when she wakes me up to show me Truck's lips. Remember to turn the beans down FINALLY. One less toxic drug into my body. One less cookie. Be nice to My Boy even when it is Grossly Apparent that every problem in the whole world (a.k.a. my broken and hormonally altered body) is all his fault. Take the time to get that one ingredient for a recipe that May or May Not be vital to the outcome. And maybe not getting the house clean but scanning some of the more precious memories into the computer and plastering them all over Facebook where they will be enshrined forever.

The funny thing is that good intentions and even right actions is that you can't always circumvent the failures. Even when you follow the directions to every jot and tittle, sometimes things just don't come out right. Like a necessary vet bill for a very sweet dog that wasn't even ours. Like devastating your children by doing the right thing for your family. Like making the best call you can imagine in any given moment and causing years of hurt and frustration, or following the "will of God" right into a cesspool of human error. Like making the "right choice" that you find out later, really wasn't. Like all of the careful non-shopping I have been doing and then somebody uses TicketMaster to charge over $700 to our checking account. Like going to Costco with a short and specific list and realizing there is a new coupon book. It gets sorted out somehow, but sometimes things are just beyond our control.

This tendency of mine holds an ominous foreboding for the coming move to Washington. All of the best intentions to pack neatly give way to hurriedly dumping into boxes and hoping some things break so that we have less stuff when we get there. Rooms that I can daydream about in pretty colors and ├╝ber creative themes that will stay the same drab off-white until after Christmas sometime when I kick into early January nesting as a result of post-holiday depression.

Lucky for me, the memories that usually stand out for me, and (thank God) for my kids, are the ones that DO happen, not the missed opportunities. Although I still kick myself for a few things that I "meant" to do and never followed through. Like sponsoring that little girl in the Ugandan school that we took off of the Christmas tree at Church. Or using my Living Social voucher for 10 sessions of Hot Yoga. But all-in-all, the things that we actually pull off are the things that we recollect. Like that road trip to Reno with 4 kids for a concert. Or melted crayon rainbow hearts that are MOSTLY recognizable. Or a pineapple curry in the crockpot that is slightly customized, but delicious nonetheless.

Maybe it isn't so much that we get a brand new start each day, but that we get to keep going. It's not do-overs, it's move-forwards. Survive, and Continue. It's learning the valuable lesson that cupcakes must be COMPLETELY cooled before one can add a frosting cookie monster face, or that you can crumble up burnt cookies and make a crust for an amazing pie-type thing (hey, with ice cream, everything is amazing). And that gaining a couple pounds over the weekend is an excellent motivator to work a little harder, move a little faster, since I certainly would not have wanted to give up those amazing hotwings at the Whitebird. Maybe it isn't that I have failed at fulfilling my intentions, it's that I have intended the wrong things and must be redirected periodically. If asked to choose between a hotwing and a pound of fat, I would probably go with the hotwing. Choosing between 20 hotwings and 20 lbs is a more obvious choice. Therefore my intention should be more exercise. All things in moderation. Small steps. One choice at a time. Hey, the fact that I make dinner at all is pretty awesome some days. There really aren't any do-overs in life. It is my intention (one that I will follow through on) to get the most out of each moment of each day. To learn every lesson, make every choice. Move ahead and know that I will do it wrong. And sometimes I might not even do it at all. But without intending to, we'd be even farther behind than we are now. So maybe good intentions aren't as evil as we make them out to be. Not fulfilling them is disappointing, no doubt, but not having them is death. I have a handful of true regrets in this life, but for the most part, every failure I have seen is the leverage I needed to get me where I am today, and we all know that I am pretty awesome. I have wasted enough time wallowing in the guilt of screwed up days and lost opportunities. There is always today to pick up where I left off and make things better. Maybe that's what it means to live for today. Don't wait for tomorrow for a new start when today still has opportunity, even if it isn't the one you were looking for. I get a certain sense of panic when I realize how quickly the days fly by. The weeks, the months, the years. I feel terrified that I will blink and miss something vital. The silly part is, the vital things are what I decide they are - they are happening with my and by me and I can't miss anything that is vital to me, because if I do, it wasn't. Life is good. Today is good. Even with it's little overdraft issues and me stepping on a Lego viking helmet this morning. I've got lots of intentions to go fulfill... see ya!

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