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Challenge: Parenting Resolutions

Real Mom Resolutions: Crossing The Finish Line

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115 Ways To Lose Weight in the New Year! 10 Ways That I Will Be A More Present Mother in 2016! 479 Tips To Shedding The Pounds and Shedding The Shame!

Well Happy New Year, parents everywhere. If the magazine covers and the Facebook posts don’t have you feeling terrible about yourself, then perhaps you haven’t been paying attention.

January 1st is no longer a new beginning, it’s a deadline. Don’t think that you can hide behind your cart full of cute PJ’s and juice boxes in the checkout line. The tabloid magazines know you’re there. You might be so sleep-deprived that you don’t realize you’ve spilled your latte on last pregnancy’s maternity pants, but you can still (barely) read. 672 Things To Do With Your Toddler In 2016! You thought you were only responsible for feeding, clothing, diapering, rocking, wiping, soothing, loving, cajoling, and refereeing your children? Surprise! You’re actually responsible for doing it better in 2016. Happy New Year! Now get off your lazy Mommy butt and work harder!

Or don’t.

What if we refuse to allow January to shame us into feelings of inadequacy? What if we took a cue from toddlers everywhere and turned up our noses at what January was serving us? What if instead, we chose to celebrate every curve, wrinkle, and wild hair that we’ve hated in 2016? I’m ready for real resolutions, for real moms everywhere. Are you?

5 Ways To Tell 2016 “You’re Not The Boss of Me”:

1. Embrace the ponytail. Every 6 weeks, I feel like a runway model when I leave the hair salon. My hair is smooth and sleek, perfectly curled at the ends and smelling like whatever ridiculously expensive concoction the ridiculously trendy stylist sprayed on it when she had a ridiculously long time to dry it and make it look pretty. I drive home with a grin on my face, catch my reflection in the rearview mirror, and remind myself that I haven’t really lost it yet. I pretend that the flowy sex goddess hair makes me more appealing to my husband, who greets me with “I thought you were getting your hair cut? It looks the same to me.”. And 200+ minutes after spending 200+ dollars on my hair, my two little boys ask me to lie on the floor and play the game where I flip them over my head. 200+ times. That’s impossible to do with long, flowy sex goddess hair. Embrace the freedom that ponytails give you, and stop letting the magazines make you feel bad about it. Give it a new name. Stop calling it the “mom ponytail”. You are sexy and fun and beautiful when you are swimming in the pool with your kids, or going for a run with your partner, or reading in bed at night, or playing with the dogs in the yard. You need your ponytail to do that, so don’t let the “Top 77 Sexy Hairstyles For 2016” lists steal your hair tie.

2. Rock The Body That You Have. Enough with the self-hatred, mamas! Whether you’re determined to CrossFit the last ten pounds away, or squash what’s left of your post-baby belly into the torture device known as Spanx, your body is still the only one that you’ve got. Your legs walked you up and down the hallway between the nursery and your bedroom, for 365 days of the year. Your arms carried squirmy toddlers and hugged sullen teenagers. Your spine curved against your partner in the thick of night, when the only thing that felt familiar was the sound of his breath against the pillow. Your body is not broken. It might not be perfect, but it is useful, and needed, and weary, and dying to be loved. Whisper thank you to the stomach that stretched to grow your babies. Smile back at the frown lines. Wear the jeans that show off your ass, or the boots that make you feel taller. Rock your curves, and your lines, and your mysterious smile. Your children can’t wait until you feel like you’re perfect. They need to know that you are pretty now. And you do too.

3. Support Your Girls. Nope, I’m not talking about the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (we’ll get to that later). I’m talking about the girls that you’re currently smothering in a ratty, stretched-out old bra that should’ve been washed three days ago. Don’t wait for your body to change, give the girls some love now. Your breasts have worked hard for their money. They’ve been propped up in a wedding dress, squashed down in exercise bras, manhandled on crappy dates, and fed off of by the ravenous piranhas better known as babies. Perhaps they didn’t make milk. Perhaps they made too much milk. Perhaps they will never make milk. Perhaps you don’t even want to think about them, or touch them, or use them, or look at them. But friends, they’re not going anywhere. Make peace with them. Buy them a bra that fits. You’re worth it. They’ll thank you for it.

4. Reward Yourself. Sticker charts aren’t just for five year olds. There are a lot of scary, irritating, crappy things that grown-ups have to do too. Don’t be afraid to congratulate yourself on a job well done (or just…done). It sucks to clean up puke from the Great Stomach Flu of 2016. It’s no fun to be the only parent on duty when your partner is traveling and your baby is teething and your kindergartner just peed the bed. Sometimes eating the leftover Halloween candy while watching a half-dozen annoying 20-somethings compete for a rose is all the relaxation you need. Allow yourself to enjoy the little things that you’ve convinced yourself you need to feel guilty about. Get the Grande at Starbucks, and say yes to the whipped cream. Take an extra 10 minutes in the shower to just listen to the silence. Buy a new nail polish color just because it sparkles, download a new song to your iPad and dance in the living room. You are not a bad mother for indulging yourself every once in a while. It might be the difference between losing your cool, and losing your pain.

5. Build Your Village. You deserve “socialization” and “playdates” and “peer groups” just like your kids do. Motherhood is hard, people. Just read the headlines reminding you how badly you screwed it all up LAST year! If you’re going to tune out the voices telling you to be better, bake prettier cookies, organize your crap in matching chevron buckets, and ombre your ponytail then you’re going to need some voices to balance them out. What do you love most about parenting? What do you wish people understood about your family? Now go and find the folks who feel the same way. Find your “me too”. Embrace your unique parenting style. You don’t have to change it, or hide it, or feel embarrassed about it. When our hearts are supported, our families thrive.

You see? The fashion magazines might want you to find a better, prettier, more plaid stiletto dolman-sleeved you, but I don’t. The parenting articles might want you to find a more screen-free, scream-free, scar-free you, but I don’t. I want you to embrace the body that powered you through 2015 and didn’t let you fall. I want you to thank the heart that loved you through 12 months of sacrifice, school days, soccer tournaments, stomach flus, sleepovers, surprises, and sixth grade math homework. December isn’t a deadline, friends. It’s a finish line. Take a look around you. We’re all here to welcome you back to the place where you matter, and to cheer you on. You made it. And guess what 2016? We’re about to do it again.

Image: Traci Bianchi of Blissful Bird Photography

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