The Mother of All New Year’s Resolutions

Newyears_16 Recently I was emptying out a closet and came across a box full of my old journals.  And when I say old I mean old.  These dated back to middle school and high school; back when keeping a journal seemed incredibly important, when everything in my life was filled with high stakes drama, angst and thousands of layers of subtext.  There is nothing more important than “ME” when you are a teenager, and no greater joy than the self-torture that accompanies writing it all down and examining every moment under a microscope.  I stopped keeping a journal in college.  It happened gradually, writing maybe once a month or when something major happened and seemed to call for some sort of analysis.  But, no matter how infrequently I wrote I always seemed to write on that one important time – New Years Day.

The idea of making resolutions seems ingrained in our society.  Here comes the onslaught of diet commercials and gym promotions, here come the promises to ourselves of a brand new me.  My husband loves making resolutions.  Really, he loves making any sort of list, or better yet a spreadsheet. (His organization may be the key to the fact that his resolutions most always come to be fulfilled.)  But, looking back on all of my old journals I realized that I made the same fruitless resolutions year after year, no matter what my age.  They basically covered similar themes – concentrate more on the creative endeavor of the moment be it acting or writing, eat healthier, make more money, etc.  They were centered around everything that I thought resolutions were supposed be.  Reading so many years worth of unrealized resolutions in one seating was both sickening and illuminating.

Making resolutions just for the sake of it is useless.  In preschool one of my daughter’s teachers had the four year-olds make resolutions and my daughter wrote that she would behave better in the little theater class she took after-school.  That lasted about one week.  She hated the teachers of the class and was too exhausted at the end of the day to participate.  No resolution was going to change that.  To ask a four year old to make a resolution is ridiculous of course, but lets face it, as an adult if you really love chocolate, or carbs or whatever your downfall may be, no amount of New Years Day resolve is going to stick either.

To make a resolution is to be resolute, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned being the mom of twins it’s that there is no one right way to approach a problem or challenge.  A large part of parenting is nurturing and encouraging the small steps which you know will lead to the big payoff in the end.  These steps can take many different forms. I realized this countless times this year while watching my children learn to play the piano and violin, learn to ride a bike, and learn to swim in deep water.  I spend so much of my time extolling the virtues of practice and perseverance to my children, yet I don’t have any patience for myself.

This year I will set goals, small attainable goals.  The kinds of things I can check off on a to-do list.  It may be mere semantics – resolutions/goals – but there’s something more forgiving in tiny aspirations rather than broad pledges and dogmatic declarations.  I will take a page from my mental mom playbook and apply it to myself – stick with it, don’t give up and do the work.  Before you know it the training wheels are off and you’re riding like the wind through the park on a glorious spring day.  In meantime I’m shredding all of those old journals with grown up, angst-free glee.

This is an original nycmomsblog post.

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