I’m so lousy at keeping New Year’s resolutions that I don’t even bother to make them anymore.
But all the buzz about diets and new workout routines in every headline these days has made me at least stop to consider what I’d like to change for this year. January seems as good a moment as any other to take stock of where I’ve been and where I’d like to be. (And since I missed 1-1-11, why not jump on 1-11-11 as an equally cool day for resolving?)
Suffice it to say, I think my “mothering spirit” has way more room for improvement than could ever be chronicled here. And while I don’t like the internet-era tendency to air every personal flaw and foible as if they’re interesting to anyone but me, I do think a certain measure of honesty is to be valued.
I don’t think we make enough space for honesty in conversations about parenting. Raising children – while doing all the other work we’re called to do – is really challenging. We do no one, including ourselves, any favors when we pretend it’s all sunny days and smiles.
So in the spirit of honesty (and in the hopes that writing it down may make me stick to my goals), here’s a few ways I hope to challenge my mothering spirit this year:
My temper. I have a lousy temper. Which I have completely lost by yelling at my sweet little toddler more times than I would care to admit. I feel rotten awful every time I do, and I swear up and down that I’m going to work on becoming more patient. So if I could make any baby steps towards this goal in 2011, I would consider it a rousing success. My current strategies include trying to avert stressful situations before they erupt and visualizing how I could act differently. For example: imagine gentler responses to the throwing of food on the floor than “WHY WON’T YOU JUST EAT YOUR #$@*%# PEAS??!?!?” Also deep breaths. Any other suggestions are more than welcomed.
My time-wasting habits. Face.book has been renamed “the suck” in this house, an abbreviation for “the timesuck” but a nickname that seems ever more fitting for the way it slurps up my free time and often leaves me feeling, well, suckier about myself. I’m sure we all have the “friends” (such a strange, redefined term these days) who seem to post nothing but variations on this theme: “I have the best husband/kids/job/house/life in the WORLD and I could NOT BE HAPPIER! Everything is PERFECT!” Thrilled as I am for their happiness, it often leaves me feeling inadequate. Yes, I love my spouse and my child and my work, but I have a lot of tough days, too. I second-guess myself a lot and I compare myself too often to those around me. So I wonder sometimes if I would be a less anxious person with more quiet and free time if I could just give up the timesuck? Again, anyone with advice on how to severe the ties, or perhaps just wean back a bit: bring it on.
There are lots of other things I’d like to change about myself, certainly. But these are a few of the struggles I have that most challenge my mothering spirit – the energy, joy and hope I bring to parenting. I’m not putting any hard-and-fast resolutions around them, because I’m trying to decrease – not increase – the amount of stress and pressure in my life. But writing about parts of myself that I’d like to change is empowering in a way: I feel freed from some of guilt’s weight when I name my challenges and my hopes to change them.
I don’t know any good prayers for New Year’s resolutions (or even belated 1-11-11 resolutions, which should reveal that punctuality is something I could stand to make a resolution or two about as well). But I love the hilarious Anne Lamott’s saying that the two best prayers she knows are:
Help me. Help me. Help me.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Seems like a pretty good way to start resolving.