New Year brings new found hope and optimism - Argus Friday 8th January 2016

Posted Friday 8th January 2016   By Ericka Waller

So Christmas has been and gone. The recycling van is creaking with mountains of toy packaging, wrapping paper and glass bottles. Browning Christmas trees lie in puddles on the pavements, gasping for air like flapping fish laying on canal banks, their majestic glory long forgotten. In hindsight maybe they would have preferred the chipper to this slow ungracious death. Baubles, wreaths and tinsel are replaced by restrictions, reductions and resolutions. I love the optimism of the first week of January. Hope, determination and short-lived optimism rises inside us, like a Phoenix from a pile of ashes.

There were no parking spaces at the gym this week. People had even double parked in the disabled bays so they could walk less far to exercise. Oh the irony.

Meanwhile the school car park is empty. School mums have donned active wear to walk to drop off, chat in the playground for hours then go for Green Tea in. Words like 'netball team' and 'charity power walk' are being slung about like grenades that will never go off.

Dads are turning up on mountain bikes for school pick up. Dressed head-to-toe in unforgiving post-Christmas lycra with all the gear and no idea how to use it.

They talk a foreign language full of words like 'Strava' 'Garmin' 'Sportive' and 'Audax’ while their children run amok in the ‘keep off the muddy grass’ areas.

None of them made it into the sea on New Years Day for the annual skinny dip, so they need to reassert their manliness with a long bike ride full of treacherous hills. 

No doubt this badly planned event will turn into a pub crawl on wheels. They will all get grounded by their wives as a result of coming home late and waking the kids up. Thursday night football league tables will be affected as a result.

Social media is awash with green juices, maps of people's running times and healthy slow cooker recipes.

‘My new running trainer’ selfies which hide the bulge and show great intention are cropping up like the crocuses in my back garden. Shiny, white, and dangerously fragile.

Walking home today I noticed someone running on the spot outside their front door whilst staring at their wristwatch. It took me a while to work out they were trying to do the suggested 10,000 steps a day on their Fitbit.

When I went to the garden centre to get some dog food, I saw a woman buying half price Christmas cards so she could be 'more organised this year'.

Bin bags, spewing foot spas, hideous ties and Christmas onesies are left dumped outside Charity shop doorways.

It’s all about detoxing, distressing, demonising sugar, alcohol, caffeine, smoking. Out our windows, a non-stop drizzle of rain seems determined to wash away all our good intention.

What pressure we put on ourselves on the 31st December.

Even I got caught up in the idiocy of thinking I could make a change I did not truly want to make. I threw out all the chocolate. Four hours later I was rummaging under the kids seats in the car for a forgotten Freddo bar. I don’t even like them.

But the time will never come when I give up chocolate. Having given up smoking, drinking, my stomach muscles, pelvic floor, sleep and  social life since having children I’m clinging to the vices I’ve got left with the last vestiges of the angry punk I once was.

Many others will fall off their wagons by the end of the month. The thing is, will they stand and wave it off as it careers off course, leaving nothing but dust, or will they chase after it?
I did manage to stick to one of my resolutions.

Me and the kids managed to watch all eight Harry Potter films over the Christmas period.

They got a bit grimmer as they went on, but my girls sat entranced throughout each one. I was equally mesmerised, (and slightly confused as to who was who most of the time).

They never mentioned being scared. I think this has more to do with me never suggesting they might be than it has with my children being tough-nuts.

Maybe it was because I was there with them, so they could ask questions and form their own opinions, but we've had no nightmares. We are now Harry Potter mad.

It's odd. I don't remember mentioning that I have been watching the films, but people with words like 'wizard' and 'aura' in their name have started to follow me on Instagram. Also, we got a cat at the weekend for one of the children. Normally cats ignore me, but this one likes me. It follows me. I think I can speak cat language. My children may not be scared, but I am.