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Challenge: Parenting Resolutions

The Best New Year's Resolution Is None At All

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I’ve spent the past two years fixing myself. Repairing a broken back. Getting sober. I am a far better version of myself than I have been in a long time. A very long time. I have no problem ending 2015 and beginning 2016 without resolving to fix anything else or embark upon any further improvements.

I am not perfect. Far from it. I could stand to lose about 40 pounds (I am down 25 from this time last year). I could yell at my kids less. I could exercise more. But, I am content. Wildly content. And, happier and more alive than I have been in years. As a result, those around me are also happy and thriving.

My business is flourishing and my clients are pleased with my work. Some are even ecstatic. I just attended fabulous parent-teacher conferences for both my kiddos. They are happy and healthy. My house is generally clean and organized. There’s usually a supply of freshly-washed underwear and socks for everyone. My marriage is solid, and my husband and I are still madly in love with one another.

None of this has come easily. While our trials and tribulations are tiny in comparison to so many challenges we see others face, they have been sizable bumps in the road for us. And, what I have learned is this: It is absolutely acceptable to celebrate and take pride in victories of all sizes; perfection does not exist and should never be a goal; and doing right by yourself can have the most incredibly beautiful trickle-down effect on those around you.

This year, I am not making any New Year’s Resolutions. Because no one – especially me – deserves or needs to feel that kind of pressure. By their very nature, New Year’s Resolutions are destined to fail. I think most of us set our expectations for ourselves way too high. Don’t get me wrong, I love a tough challenge – I haven’t had a drink in nearly 11 months and I want one most every day. But, I have never made a New Year’s Resolution and kept it, even when it comes to being a better mom.

For someone like me – a gal with an addictive personality and perfectionist tendencies, an over achiever who loves control (to a certain extent) and has the highest expectations for herself on a daily basis – New Year’s resolutions are stressful. Because the self-loathing that follows breaking a New Year’s Resolution can have devastating effects, I simply will not make any. However, what I am doing is setting my intentions. It’s something I am very good at. For me, intentions are simply better than resolutions.

Most mornings, as I sip my coffee before the madness of the day commences, I set my intentions for that day. And, as 2015 draws to a close, I am setting my intentions for 2016.

First and foremost, I intend to maintain the even keel we are on as a family. It all stems from me and the tone I am setting. I have manifested an incredible power about myself and around life in general – unbeknownst to them, my children and husband have gradually stepped further into that power over the past several months, and they are thriving. I like the new status quo we have created. Everything is working and, when it doesn’t, the foundation we have created makes it easier to course correct and get back on track. Sure, from time to time we have missed homework assignments, late weeknight bedtimes, nothing in the fridge for dinner, you name it. But, it’s a status update, not a permanent condition.

That said, there are some things I do intend to adjust.

I swear too much. Always at home. Sometimes with friends. Never in public. I drop a lot of F bombs. And, the past two weeks, I have been asking my kids to “give more than half a shit so I can stop giving all the shits for everyone.” I’m not proud. And, my eldest is beginning to emulate my behavior. I can’t stand hearing his beautiful 11-year-old voice utter those words. My potty mouth is part of my past drunken life, and it’s time to say good-bye.

In addition, I am too honest. I have to laugh at myself for saying that. Since I got sober and stopped hiding and lying about my drinking, I have found it nearly impossible to lie at all. I am brutally honest and far less filtered than I used to be. I am not offensive by any means, but I tend to tell it like it is. I think if I could find a way to conceal tidbits of truth from my kids or not be as forthcoming when they question me about things, I might be able to preserve some of their innocence a little longer. Or, maybe I am just having a tough time with the fact that the 11-year-old no longer believes in Santa or the Tooth Fairy or the Elf on the Shelf …

If I were to make a New Year’s Resolution, it would be to either give up or severely limit my caffeine intake. It’s my biggest vice right now. It’s one of the bad habits I have spent the past year excusing with a very simple, and repeated, “Well, at least I am not drinking.”

But, the biggest life changes I have made have not been New Year’s Resolutions. Ever. They have come at different times of the year as I remain ever-conscious of my intentions and how they serve me and those around me. New Year’s Resolutions are often bigger than us and they feel forced – that combination doesn’t set up anyone for success.

When I am ready to make a change – for me, for my kids, for my family – there’s no time like the present. If New Year’s is the right time, great. If not, the right time will come … and it will announce it's arrival by smacking me over the head.

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