I’m not a new year’s resolution person, never really have been. As I approach my 45th year (gasp!), I’m more realistic that it’s one more thing I probably won’t achieve, so why set myself up for failure? My kids will tell you that I already do many things wrong.
Golda Meir said “Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life.” I’ve slowly been adopting that philosophy and, as part of that, setting more realistic expectations for myself as a mother, wife, and as a person.
So what does that mean?
Let’s start with the mothering piece:
This mothering thing is the hardest job I’ve ever had, and just when I think I’ve figured some of it out, life throws another twist my way. My oldest daughter is 13 and will be starting high school next year. In a blink of an eye, she’ll be going off to college. My son will be 11 in April, and like many pre-teens, seeks me and my advice some of the time, while exerting his own independence at other times. With him, especially, I am often reminded of being afraid letting my kids go down steps when they were younger, or playing on the monkey bars at the playground, so they wouldn’t get hurt. I finally realized it wasn’t about if but when. They WERE going to fall down those stairs, or at the playground, or just running around the house. My most important job was to be there and help them up. My youngest just turned five. While I sometimes shake my head at having chosen to do it all over again, I am SO very thankful that I did, and that my daughters are eight years apart! One baby doesn’t need me anymore, but the other most certainly does. My younger daughter still wants me to play with her as she runs around in her princess costumes, making me coffee and breakfast in her play kitchen.. She wants me to play with her, to run with her, to go on field trips with her class. And so I go, I run, I play, I do … as she giggles and laughs … and I enjoy (almost) every single minute of it!
So this year, for the sake of my children I will focus on the following:
-Letting go. I’m a control freak. I’ll admit it, my husband will point it out over and over, and my kids will sometimes suffer as a result. I’m learning to let go...it’s not easy, sort of like a 10-step program for me. I know it’s something I must do to allow us all to be more happy. They will make mistakes, they will fall, but those are the things they'll continue to learn from.
-Obsessing less about their happiness. My kids don’t always get along. And I may be putting this mildly. If your kids are best friends, consider yourself lucky, but I have never had that in my house. I get glimpses of what that might look like, but just as quickly as it begins, it ends and I’m left with the pieces.
I have now resolved to the fact that they may NEVER be best friends, which I’m somewhat ok with. I hope deep down inside that they will, but they’re three very different individuals, at different stages of their lives. My main rule remains the same: while they’re living in this house they must coexist, for all our sanity. So while last year I said I'm going to try and yell less, I'm a year older and wiser, saying I know i'm going to yell, just know I still love you while I'm doing it.
On being a wife:
Mike and I have recently celebrated our 15-year anniversary. That’s a big deal, in my opinion. We have been through a lot, yet I feel like we’ve been really lucky and had it easy. We’ve yet to really deal with the big stuff that life throws at you, and hopefully we won’t, but the realist in me knows it’s coming, and I’m holding my breath. We are partners in crime, always have been. He supports me, and I support him, and for the most part, we agree on how to parent our kids. But lately, especially during the week, we’re two passing ships. I know our relationship won’t ever be the same as when we first met, as we’re in fact different people than the young kids who met 20 years ago. Our relationship is different, and in certain ways, better. But this year I am determined to do the following:
-Bring back the date night. we used to carve out one night a week where we would go out, just the two of us, that has somehow gone away and been replaced by family dinner out. One should not take the place of the other.
-Celebrate the small, don’t wait for the big. I think this is truly where I’ve grown: there used to be the big gifts for the big milestones. Those are certainly nice, but I would much rather get a surprise, you’re awesome because you’re you, recognition. Are you listening Mike?
-Continue to invest in our family together. This seems obvious but I don’t want to disregard it. There is nothing more sexy to me than a father who’s present, and Mike’s always been that. And I’ve always been a believer of it’s not about quantity but quality when it comes to being a parent, which stems for my working full-time for many years and not being around. In 2018, I promise to be more present around my family.
Last but not least, me.
I’m not sure how this has happened, but it has: I’ve pushed my own needs behind everyone else’s. In seeking to make my husband and kids happy, I’ve somehow neglected myself. This year I vow to make more “me time” which I know will make for a happier family unit. This will also require me to say No more than I currently do. It is OK to say no, and not feel guilty about doing so, but again, a work in progress for me.
There is of course no magic formula, and all of this requires work. Some days I will do some of the above better than others, but for me, each day is a new beginning. And just because I wasn’t the best possible mom or wife or person one day, it doesn’t mean i can’t try again the following day.
Happy 2018, or 20חי. In Judaism, the number 18 means “Chai” or “life.” in this year, may we all start creating the kind of self that we will be happy living with the rest of our lives.