Now that you’re a parent, do you ever think that New Year’s Eve should be more “exciting,” somehow? I recently realized I’ve had this subconscious vision in my mind that was clashing with reality – and keeping me from fully enjoying the amazing truth of what is right in front of me.
See, when I was a kid, my parents were never New Year’s Eve-party-sort-of-people. So I always secretly wished we were –it seemed so exciting and fun and mysterious to stay up until midnight and drink champagne (not that my parents would give me any), cheer the new year, and stay up dancing and talking until the wee hours.
As a teenager, my parents were always strict about curfew, even (especially!) on New Year”s Eve, so I always had to leave the party around 11:30. I usually walked in just in time to see the countdown, hug my parents, say ‘Happy New Years’, and go to bed. Again, not my rose-colored-glasses idea of what a rockin’ New Year’s Eve should look like!
But as a single and as a newlywed New Year’s looked just like I thought it should! Especially our midnight parties on the roof of our apartment building in Manhattan. We would watch fireworks from the roof, invite people back for a movie or board games in our tiny little apartment, and go off to bed exhausted but happy. That seemed to fit what I thought New Year’s should be.
But in my mommy years, I found myself frustrated at reverting back to the seemingly “boring” schedule of yore. New Years partying in the Feldhahn house is often a casualty of three out of four family members being early-to-bed-early-to-rise sort of people. Guess who is the lone night owl? My sweet husband and kids usually give it the old college try, but by 10:30 my little guy (now 9 years old) is asleep on the coach. My hubby and 12-year-old daughter usually make it until close to midnight, but my daughter’s head usually bobs around 11:30, and Jeff isn’t far behind. We’ve often had friends over for the evening, but they usually have kids too, and often escape well before midnight. Thus, many is a New Year’s night that I would be singing Auld Lang Syne to myself, wistfully looking around at a sacked-out family and secretly wishing we were slightly more party animal-ish.
This past year, though, something changed. I looked around at my snoring family, and instead of disappointment, suddenly got that feeling that would so often rise up in my chest when I looked at my kids as infants, so precious, sleeping in their cribs. That feeling of swelling love that is so powerful, your heart seems to be expanding against your lungs and making it hard to breathe.
Last year, in that one moment, everything stood still. Even though fireworks were exploding on the television screen, it was as if all sound was muted and everything was in slow motion. I thought: I want to savor this moment. Right here. This is beyond special. Beyond any exciting vision I could have ever had for what New Year’s would look like. God, thank you. I love my life.
This year, I will almost surely see the same thing – 11:30, a quietly ticking clock, a muted television with New Year’s Rockin’ Eve playing silently in the background (so it doesn’t wake them up), me curled up with a good book… and giving thanks for the precious people snoring in my living room.