Almost 24 hours into the new year, the clean slate we’ve all been waiting for. A chance to change ourselves – even if most of us forget what we actually wanted to change sometime in mid-February or, if we’re really lucky, late March. Sure, there are things I’d like to do. Lose weight (half of the baby weight is gone but the rest is not going to lose itself). Be more organized. Stay on top of the laundry. But is any of that really going to change who I am? Maybe I simply need to look to my children to see what it is that I really need to change about myself.
Let every morning be a fresh start. I mess up. Every single day. I yell at Robbie when I really shouldn’t have (like maybe when he sticks my pearl necklace down the barrel of his Nerf gun, even when I’ve asked him three times to please stop but can’t get up because I’m nursing Alex and it’s really just too much to handle at the moment). Or I forget to make him the hot tea I promised to make for him to drink during story time – even though it really just sits on his dresser and is never touched. Or I couldn’t get his shoes tight enough or made him wear long sleeves or told him he absolutely, positively had to sleep in his bed. He doesn’t always react well to these things. Sure, sometimes he tells me it’s OK because we all make mistakes. But, more often than not, he cries right along with me when I realize I’ve been too harsh and hurt his feelings or yells because I’m just not being fair. In the morning, though, all is forgiven and forgotten (if we’re being honest, it’s usually taken care of by bedtime). I’m back to being his “best mom”, worthy of hugs and an extra kiss before he hops in the car to go to school. It doesn’t matter how badly I messed up the day before; Robbie gives me a whole new opportunity to be the best mom I can be. If he can do that, why can’t I?
Playing is fun. We have work. And family. And a house to clean. Where in the world is there time to have fun? Everywhere. Being off work for the past three weeks – and spending two of them with a four-and-a-half-year-old at home – I’ve had to do some serious looking for the fun. It’s making cookies, even when there’s no special occasion. Or racing from one corner to the next in an effort to actually complete a two-mile run with a small child. Some days, the laundry can wait. Dinner doesn’t have to be spectacular – especially if you’re making it together. It’s OK if the house is a mess. Robbie and Alex aren’t going to remember that they had to wear the same socks two days in a row because you took an hour to go to the playground instead of doing laundry (that’s actually a true story – don’t judge; their feet don’t smell too horrible at this age).
Naps are good. This kind of follows the previous paragraph. Cuddling up with a sleeping baby, relishing that you can take a nap while the rest of the world is at work (which, by the way, is exactly what I plan to do tomorrow when everyone goes back to school) is empowering. OK, maybe not empowering, but it sure does make you feel awesome. Leave the dishes in the sink, slide under the covers, close your eyes, and enjoy the moments of nothing.
Listening is important – even more important than talking. Robbie talks. A lot. About everything that passes through his brain. I don’t always follow it. In fact, there are times that I really want to tune it all out, but I can’t because he expects me to respond to what he’s saying. We’ve done a lot of walking in the past week – close to ten miles, which is a lot of time for talking. Robbie has showed me all the houses where his imaginary friend, Jack’s, family lives. We’ve talked about what living organisms have brains (trees don’t), which led to commentary on Robbie’s brain deciding to order pizza. We’ve looked at cloud shapes and held hands. It’s the little things that I would miss if I didn’t listen carefully. How much do we miss around us because we are too busy on our cell phones or thinking about everything else we have to do? Slow down – it’ll be OK if you don’t respond to that text for the next five minutes.
Hugs fix a lot of things. It’s true. They just do. Skinned knees, hurt feelings, bad dreams. This applies in real life, too. Don’t be afraid to give a hug to someone who needs one – or to ask for one when it’s really just too much to take.
People are good and really just want to be friends. People hurt Robbie’s feelings (and I’m pretty sure he hurts theirs, too), but he’s always the first to remind me that they are his friends. Tonight, he told me that most people are on Santa’s nice list – only bad guys (like witches, ghosts, and zombies) are on the naughty list. It’s easy to forget – everyone is a person, with a heart. Treat people that way. Assume they are on the nice list.
Will I remember all of this every day? Absolutely not. But that’s OK, as long as I remember the first rule of 2014 and start every morning fresh. The rest will fall into place.