TODAY IS THE DAY for serious contemplation.
Today is the day for finally deciding precisely what, if anything, we are going to give up or straighten out in our lives during the New Year. No more fooling around with empty promises of reform. This is it. Now a lot of us are working today and may not have time to fully devote ourselves to reform. And while I recognize that a lot of New Year's resolutions are quite personal -- to wit, giving up smoking, drinking and so forth -- there are a lot of resolutions we might have in common. In that spirit, I offer some Working Mother's New Year's Resolutions:
To find a better term for Working Mother than Mother Who Works Outside the Home, which is a sentence stopper of the first order.
To get up earlier and get to bed earlier, a resolution I've been making since I first realized in college that under no circumstances should I sign up for an 8 a.m. class.
To spend more time with my children. Watching reruns of "M.A.S.H." with them doesn't count.
Not to go home and yell at them because someone at the office whom I couldn't yell at did something really dumb.
Not to let my mind wander off on business while my 5-year-old is telling me that Eric threatened to give him a bloody nose.
Not to serve frozen pizza more than once every two weeks. And then with a salad.
To take my children on more educational outings to museums on weekends.
Not to drag them off to the zoo just because I like going there.
Not to say "hurry up, I'm busy," when they call Mother at work to resolve a sibling dispute.
To be more tolerant of the fact that they have no idea that you really are working when you spend time at the office every day.
To be more patient with them.
To be more appreciative of their good qualities and more understanding of their shortcomings.
Not to yell excessively when they welcome you home at night with the news that they have volunteered to bring three dozen homemade chocolate chip cookies to school the next day.
To always have an abundant supply of chocolate chips.
To plan menus a week in advance in order to have a comprehensive grocery list and be able to shop only once a week.
To serve dinner earlier.
Not to forget my son at basketball practice, remembering instead to pick him up on my way home from work.
To remember to write the required notes for school and not to forget parent-teacher conferences.
To remember my children's correct names instead of calling them by whoever's name comes to mind first.
To be more willing to wind up my week by driving a group of teen-agers to the Friday night activity. That's at least better than picking them up.
Not to be envious at Christmas time of my friend Claudette who did all of her shopping in August. Envy, no matter how appropriate, is not becoming.
Not to be envious in the summer of the deep suntans the women have whose work seems to consist solely of lounging around the pool watching their children grow and reading books about travel to Europe. Also not to comment to my spouse about how these women seem to have gained a few more gray hairs and a few more pounds over the winter. Being catty toward women who are being supported in the fashion you might wish to become accustomed to is also not becoming.
Not to be tired.
Or at least not talk about it.
To write to my mother-in-law.
Not to feel guilty when preschoolers come home from the day-care center with a childhood illness. Childhood illnesses are caused by germs, not by working mothers, and besides, if children don't build up immunities in preschool, they will get zapped in kindergarten.
Not to blame each and every one of the children's failings on the fact that you are a working mother. Your teen-ager's room is a public health hazzard because he is a messy person, not because you are working. Mothers who do not work outside the home also have messy teen-agers.
Not to feel guilty if your husband runs out of socks, shirts and underwear. If he is old enough to have children, he is old enough to buy his own socks, shirts and underwear. However, if he buys your bras, undies and stockings, then you should be sure to reciprocate.
Not to fret excessively because you are leaving your children in the care of your television while you continue to work during their vacations. Fretting only gets in the way of finding an alternative.
Not to treat the collapse of your child-care arrangements as an event more significant than then end of the world. This tragedy will pass.
Not to blame discord and tension in your family on the fact that you are a working mother. Eighty percent of us are working to fulfill our chicken accounts, not ourselves, so let us finally resolve to work without guilt.
Happy New Year, and be of good cheer. Remember the Working Mother's Motto: Thank heaven, soon the weekend will be here.