It's that time of year again, when we huddle in front of the central heater, the earth is far, far away from the sun, and a parent's mind turns to thoughts of ... New Year's Resolutions.
My parenting resolutions need to be achievable, I resolve. There won't be any never-scream–at my-kid-again resolutions, either. Nope, this year I'm gonna listen to the motto: Nothing Succeeds Like Success, and focus on realistic goals that I know I can make happen.
I also believe in stretching my capabilities. My resolutions need to include some big aspects to aim towards. In other words (to say it in a more groovy way), my big resolutions will focus more on the process -- or the journey – than the goal.
And there sure won't be any of those lose-five-pounds-and-exercise-more resolutions. Weight gain and loss is seasonal, not annual, and far as I can see, human beings are like bears, putting on more poundage in the winter, naturally slimming down in the spring and summer. This philosophy tends to make my jeans tight, but it allows me to satisfy my annual cravings for rich food and eggnog. Anyway, these are parenting resolutions. And five pounds more or less on my motherly hips means nada to my child.
Here then, are my Six Parenting Resolutions...
1. Patience, Patience...
For my child, for my family, for my self, with life. Like everybody else, I'm pretty patient, most of the time, until I'm not. I don't know any parent who doesn't occasionally lose it and scream or worse, and I can't expect myself to be as serene and smooth as a still mountain pool on a quiet day. Anybody who knows me knows that I'm basically amiable until I'm not – and there's no arguing with basic temperament. All I'm seeking is a little more patience, so when my child starts running around the house and refusing to go to bed, I can take it in stride.
I resolve to try the tricks – count to ten, count to one hundred, give myself time-outs, or imagine myself swimming in the aforementioned mountain pool. I resolve to pretend to act patient, even when I'm not, and hope that the behavioral psychologists are right, and that doing is being.
2. Don't Interfere
My child is her own person (ooh boy, is she!) and a lot of times, she knows what she's doing, she knows what she needs, she is on her own timeline through life, and when I open my big mouth, I'm only in the way. This resolution is going to be hard for me because I feel best when I'm actively doing something. Letting things happen without my interference is hard for me. I'll try not to give advice until she asks for it.
3. Time for ME
And this doesn't mean working! So often these days, parents take their "free" time as work time. Especially for those of us who have home offices, work never ends. This year, I'm hoping to see a lot more of the woods, the coffeehouses in my neighborhood, and the beach. And yes, this is a parenting resolution, because there's a fabulous and true equation that goes something like this: Happy Parent = Happy Child. Even though I was not a math major, I can see the truth in this.
4. Trust Myself
Oh, to stop guessing and counter-guessing my parenting decisions! This year I resolve to 1. Know that I do my best to learn what I can, and then 2. Act without second-guessing myself.
5. Reach Out
It's easy to get isolated. When my daughter was a wee little thing, I had a Mother/Play group that happened twice a week. But then again, I wasn't killing myself with work, either (see resolution #3, above). As I slow down (wa-a-a-a-y down), I resolve to get together with my other parent-friends more often. I talk a lot about the importance of building and maintaining community. Time to walk the talk.
6. Focus on the Joy
I am so lucky. I have a great kid, a terrific family, a lovely community, and I like what I do. It's easy to forget that in all the hullabaloo of life. Parenting is always going to be a challenge. So what? Challenges are to be met. It's time to refocus on the joy.