I’ve never been big on New Year’s as a celebratory holiday. Sure, it’s nice to know that a new year is coming, that the previous has been completed. I like reflecting; I’m just not for going all out celebrating or making lists of resolutions and goals. I’ve never been the type to sign up for a gym membership in January, or vow to start flossing, or turning down my bed sheets every morning. Maybe I doubt the impetus behind these goals in my own life–what is my motivation? What am I seeking? Am I just doing this because it’s what you’re supposed to do with a new year? A clean slate?
But the more I think about it, it’s not a bad idea, the list-making. The stage of life I currently find myself in begs for intentionality. If I don’t set myself daily or weekly goals, my time turns into one amorphous void in which I get nothing done and feel completely unaccomplished. The adage, “The days (of parenting) are long, but the years are short” goes through my head constantly as I watch my two little ones grow. I want to live with purpose.
So, as I reflect on what I have come to value, as well as what I hope to value more, I have come up with three personal New Year’s resolutions for 2016.
Instead of expending energy fighting with and hating my body, I want to learn how to actively appreciate and respect it. I’ve seen it do some incredible things this year. Overcome battles with pregnancy loss, fertility issues, and, best of all, birth my beautiful, healthy son with no medical interventions. My body is strong and beautiful, and yet I still haven’t found a way to stop putting it down. When I look at my body and want to comment on that bit of baby weight I still haven’t lost, or the silvery stretch marks on my abdomen, I would so much rather praise the skin that miraculously stretched to its limits for 9 months, or thank my body for knowing how to nourish my baby’s, in and out of the womb. And you know what? A very real part of respecting my body is taking care of it. In my body-love and acceptance, I don’t want to forget that part of this very thing is nurturing and strengthening it. This will include lacing up my sneakers more, even though I have a love/hate relationship with running. It will mean getting to my gym for an hour of gentle yoga, slicing up that fresh avocado for my sandwich, and chasing my kids around the park. Thank you, body! You have changed, but so have I.
This year I want to say ‘yes’ more–mainly, to my kids. So often we put pressure on ourselves and our kids to seek independence. That is a good, healthy thing; I want my daughter to be comfortable playing with her toys or reading books in the quiet of her room. I don’t want her happiness to hinge entirely on someone, or something, entertaining her. Learning how to make fun is such an integral part of childhood! At the same time, I know that I all too easily brush off her (sometimes unceasing) requests to play because I’m doing something else that is necessary, or I feel strongly about the principle of independent play… or, sometimes, I am lost in something that’s pretty unimportant (I’m looking at you, iPhone!). No, I don’t believe it’s my sole purpose to entertain my children. But it does feel pretty awesome to get down on the rug with my three-year-old and play I Spy, or have tea parties together. Taking the time to look her in the eyes and speak her language, if only for small chunks of time, is something that I can tell endears us even more to each other. At the end of this year, 2016, will I look back on my time wishing I had fully scrolled through my Instagram feed, or will I cherish the memories of sitting on the floor and joining the world of Littlest Pet Shop for a while?
And, because it’s easy enough to lose the concept of ‘me’ as a parent, I want to spend more time reading. I used to be a voracious reader. I almost always had a book in my purse in high school and college; if you had asked me about myself, one of the first things I probably would have said is that I love books. I loved knowing that, when I had a spare minute, I could get taken away, and lost in someone else’s thoughts and words. It’s mentally and emotionally stimulating, and sadly, it’s a part of me that has fallen to the wayside as my Saturday afternoons quickly turned from restful to task-filled. I have found myself, in my exhaustion, reaching for Netflix before I reach for Hemingway. I miss challenging myself this way, and I miss how deeply gratifying finishing a book feels. So, in light of the fact that I firmly believe a healthy and happy mother equals a healthier and happier home, I want to nurture my mind and soul that way.
I know this seems like a re-framed list of New Year’s resolutions, but for me, it goes deeper than that. What it comes down to is this: I want resolve to be a part of my everyday life in 2016, and each year that follows. I want it more than I want a flat tummy, a perfectly made bed, or a kitchen sink with no dirty dishes in it. I think that I, and we all, should live with more purposeful intent in our day-to-day lives. That, and the resolutions that come out of it, is worth striving for.
Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.