I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I remember the excited conversations at school; we would get fit, meet pop stars, finally pash the fourth year hottie (which never happened – looking back I have a sneaking suspicion he was gay – that’s what I’m choosing to run with anyway, as opposed to blaming the coke-bottle spectacles and double train track braces I was sporting at the time).
Anyway, I got old(er) and less idealistic.
I embraced the idea of a slight Buddha belly that I was extremely unlikely to fix with ten minutes of planking a day – any more than the one second of planking needed to get up from the telly and fetch a cup of tea should really only be performed by actual planks anyway.
I realised that given I have a singing voice that sounds like a cat being desexed without anaesthetic, I am pretty unlikely to have a top ten hit any time this lifetime.
I maintained that the best way to give up smoking for life was to never actually start (I’m acing that one!).
Plus, I got too damn busy. Hell, I’m a single mother. Every day of the year is taken up by being grown up and responsible. Paying bills and folding laundry and remembering to buy birthday presents. Putting on matching shoes – most of the time. Holding adult conversations without revealing the fact that I’m a dribbling mess who hasn’t had an unbroken night’s sleep in several years.
And so years have gone by without me committing to a single resolution. But this year, something happened that has caused me to haul the laptop onto my wobbly tummy and make a new pledge.
Last night, I took my children to meet up with friends on Manly Beach to have dinner and watch the nine o’clock fireworks. It was lovely, in that messy, gritty, salt water on your skin and sand in your picnic kind of way. The kids ran around and made castles and played Uno. They fetched water, cupful by careful cupful, from the beach’s edge, to create a volcano. They bobbed around in the swim enclosure; floating grins in cartoon patterned swimsuits. It was a blast.
But the fireworks were the highlight of the night. While my son cuddled in his godmother’s lap, hands over ears and eyes wide, I stood with my daughter.
At first she was still, transfixed by the lights and colours, glancing over her shoulder every so often to make sure that yes, I was there, yes, I was seeing it too. “OOH!” the crowd gasped as the display got bigger and brighter, and she started to join in, softly, making sure that she was in tune with everyone else, not wanting to stand out.
But joy is hard to contain when you’re seven, and she began to dance with excitement. Her dancing is something to behold, arms swinging in jagged rhythm, bottom wiggling, feet stamping. She danced by herself on the sand to the music of explosions and scattered sparks. She danced for delight, and she stopped giving a damn who was watching.
As the fireworks reached a crescendo she began to hop and twirl, completely unable to control herself. The sky lit up in a final dozen colours and she collapsed on her knees, mouth hanging open, gazing at the miracle that was playing out over the harbour. As the sounds and the smoke faded away I knelt down behind her to give her a hug.
“It was like magic, Mum,” she whispered to me as all around us adults busied themselves with folding up picnic blankets and clearing away rubbish. “Did you see it all?”
And I smiled, and said yes, and nodded against her neck, even though in fact I think I missed most of the fireworks. I was watching my own miracle, pirouetting by herself on the beach. And I made myself a New Year’s Resolution.
In the hurly-burly of my adult life, with all of my sensible adult decisions, and rational adult worries, and practical adult plans, I will make more effort to be childish. To feel the joy that is available in everyday magic.
And dear Lord, I will try to be unafraid to dance on the sand.
Happy New Year xx