"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Friday, January 1, 2016

My Word of the Year

I've never really made New Year's Resolutions. It's not that there hasn't been anything about me or my life to change or improve upon: I've often whispered promises to myself that I would cut back on my near-daily beer consumption or Better Control The Volume of My Voice as we're getting ready to leave in the morning...but I make these promises knowing that they'll be broken. Come 5:15 on January 2, I'll be reaching into that fridge for a delicious, locally-brewed IPA. And we all know that on January 4, as the kids head back to school, I'll be back to barking directives.

Why can't kids just put the damn shoes on their feet?

This year is different.

I still have things (both small and Big) in my life that I'd like to change. What's different is that, for the first time in a long time, I have the Time that is required for change to happen. Parents of Young Children, listen to this: There will come a time in the not-too-distant future when showers, once again, become a daily occurrence. You will sleep through most nights and you won't be indispensable at bedtimes. You will make dinner without holding another person on your hip. You will drink a whole cup of coffee, hot to the last drop. I know it sounds made-up, but trust me...you will enjoy glimmers of independence again. 

I'm there.

My baby is nearly four.

It's crazy how endless and at the same time, fast-as-lightning my life as a parent has been...I'm already, yet finally, There. 

And with my new found independence and time, this year I plan to take advantage of just that: Time.

Resolution #1: Dates with the Kids
On Christmas Eve, Sam and I gave the kids Parent Date magnets ("Evan + Mom," "Evan + Dad," etc.). At the beginning of each month, we'll sit down with our calendar and each kid will pick a day for their Parent Date (Sam and I will rotate dates with each kid). We'll stick the magnet on our Holy Grail, the white board calendar in the mudroom and, come hell or high water, we'll make our special Together Time happen. Each kid will get to pick an activity for their one-on-one time with Mom or Dad (we retain veto power, of course)...maybe it'll be going out to dinner or a movie...maybe an archery lesson or a hike...maybe we'll go to the library or a smoothie shop. Who knows. Who cares. It's not the what that matters, it's the Together. 

I. Can't. Wait.

Resolution #2: Family Give Back Days
In addition to our Parent Date magnets, we have a Family Give Back Day magnet. In December, our family participated in a local event called The Big Give. We joined several other families and dedicated a whole day to giving back to our community. I loved the impact it had on our kids. I didn't want to wait until next December to get into the Spirit of Giving again. I want it to become part of our regular routine.

Each month we'll pick a day (or maybe just an afternoon...when schedules get hectic) to Give Back. We'll donate supplies to an animal shelter. We'll pack boxes at the Food Bank. We'll pick up trash in our neighborhood. We'll deliver dinner and dessert to our local volunteer fire fighters. We'll bring cookies to friends or shovel snow for our neighbors. We'll make it a point to dedicate Time each month to others...in little and big ways...as a family.

Resolution #3: Time for Me
I love my family. I really do. They, quite perfectly, complete me. 

But sometimes I need my space from them. I have realized this about myself very clearly this year. I feel guilty about it but, it is what it is. I can't be with them without giving everything of me to them...which can't sustain itself...so sometimes I need a break.

I'm going to take My Time this year. I'll write the stories I want to write, I'll read the stories I want to read....but under no pressure to Accomplish Anything. If I don't sell another article, that's okay. If I don't read every bestseller to hit the shelves, I won't feel pressured to keep up with the literati. I'll do what I can, but I'll make sure I carve out the time I need to read and write what I want to...for the joy of writing and reading...for Me.

Resolution #4: Time with Friends
Another way I plan to take time and Make Time for me is by going back to class...sort of....

I volunteer in the third grade art class each week with a good friend of mine. Recently, we started talking about how we each took an Art History class in college but would have loved to have taken more. "I'd totally sign up for an Art History class," she said. "Me, too!" I agreed, "Let's do it!" We decided that the only thing better than actually attending a college course just for fun would be enjoying a college course at home, with friends, over a glass of wine. I found a great introductory, fairly comprehensive European Art History course on DVD through The Great Courses. I got a great deal on it right before Christmas and I can't WAIT for class to be in session. There are 48 lectures in this course, so we'll watch a lecture or two at a time, a couple of times a month, and wrap up in about a year. Who needs to bitch about the kids or spread gossip at Girls' Night? This year, my Girl Time will be spent getting cultured. Time well spent.

Lesson Learned:

My Word of the Year 2016 is TIME. I will spend it well, with the people I love. I will take it and give it back and make the most of it. I will be present in it and respectful of it. 

It's going so fast, this Time...I think this is my way of trying to control it. 

I can be so Type A.

What's your Word?

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