Why I Don’t Like January

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By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

Even though there’s something comforting about getting back into a normal routine after a hectic holiday period, I don’t like January. It’s the one month of the year that puts me on edge and gives me performance anxiety.

My mother once gave me some valuable advice about carpet that also applies nicely to the month of January. She said, “Never buy white carpet.” When I was younger, I liked the idea of white or cream-colored carpet, mostly because it was so different than the dark brown color I’d grown up with. White carpet made rooms look bright and expansive. Fancy luxury hotels had white carpet, and magazine layouts of million-dollar rooms feature white carpet, so why shouldn’t I want white carpet, too?

Then I got married and moved into a house with white carpet. And I figured out exactly why my mother had spent so many years on an anti-white carpet crusade. White carpet makes you crazy. It dares you to make a mistake. And if you do, a glaring stain reminds you of your failure every time you walk in the room.

That’s exactly how January is, too. The New Year stretches out in front of you like a big swath of pure white carpet. You stand at the doorway, admiring how perfectly clean and unblemished that white rug is, and you tell yourself you’re going to do everything in your power to keep it spotless all year long. “This is the year I’ll do it all,” you chant internally. “This will be the Best Year Ever!”

white carpetThen a little thing called reality comes along and hands you an overly full glass of Cherry Kool-Aid and tells you to walk, run, hop, skip, jump and dance your way across the white room while you hold that glass in your hand. Reality says, “Good luck with that,” and then slaps you on the back and sends you on your way, ready or not.

All the resolutions and willpower in the world will not get you across that white rug without at least a drop or two sloshing over the rim and onto that sea of white. It’s inevitable. Motivation can’t make you immune from real life. Sooner or later, something has got to give. And that, according to my mother, is why you need “flecks.”

Mom has always been a big fan of a carpet with “a nice fleck in it.” The fleck is a darker color mixed into a neutral background — just small bits of color mixed throughout the rug to give it texture and depth. It grew in popularity because a fleck is so forgiving. A fleck understands you’re a mere mortal who will sometimes stumble, fall and make a mess of things. A flecked rug will allow you to clean up your mess as best you can, and then it’ll camouflage your screw-ups among its own dark spots. So when you look back on it, you can’t quite tell if it was a spill or a just a fleck. Who knows? So you pick up your glass of Cherry Kool-Aid and keep on going.

That’s why I’m looking forward to February. January makes me feel like I’m tip-toeing across someone’s fancy white rug with no room for error. But February is full of flecks. By then, we’ve all realized that goals and resolutions are good and worthy of pursuit, but the pursuit itself will not be perfect. It can’t be. So we have to forgive ourselves and keep on going.

You were right all along, Mom. White carpet is crazy. Flecks are friends.

gwen rockwoodGwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.

Photo credit: Lisa Mac Photography

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