A new year..a fresh start..the day we all make promises to be better, healthier, more productive people. I don’t know about you but, every time I have ever made a New Year’s resolution, I have failed to follow through long term. Why? Well, for me, it’s because I make these promises during this bliss-filled period of holiday cheer..those few days between Christmas and New Year’s when life has slowed down a bit and the daily grind of our usual routine is put on pause. So, I start to eat better, I approach my family with more patience and I start a multitude of projects that will prove that I am more productive and creative than ever before. Then, a few days later, life resumes its normal pace and I am instantly back to being short on patience, overwhelmed by a ton of untied loose ends with the unending feeling that I am spread way too thin. Immediately following comes the guilt of falling short which I excuse by convincing myself that these goals are simply unattainable because life is just too hectic.
Once I had my first child, my New Year’s resolutions always revolved around what I could do better for her. When I realized she had extra needs, I became determined to be the mother who rises above these challenges with grace, dignity, and infinite patience. I equated being the perfect parent to giving up 100 percent of myself to my child without ever making a single mistake. When blessed with a second child a few years later, I found myself trying to give 100 percent of myself to each child 100 percent of the time. This is obviously an unattainable goal but I never realized that. Still, I was far from perfect and it was starting to feel like the more I tried, the harder and faster I fell.
The year 2015 was a turning point for my family as I returned to teaching for the first time since becoming a mother. It was a fast and unexpected change but something my family needed so I accepted without hesitation. I didn’t have time to figure out how I would keep trying to perfect being Supermom when I would now be spending much less time with my kids. But, I started my job and instantly fell in love with it. Special education is something I am passionate about as both a teacher and a parent. I work with great people. I have amazing students. My life has more balance. I am a happier person and my children are reaping the rewards. I traded quantity of time with my children for quality time and we are all much better for it.
So this New Year I no longer feel the need to resolve to be a better parent or a better person. 2015 brought amazing opportunity for our family but it also came with several unexpected reminders that life is precious and time is not guaranteed. I finally realize that the chance to start over does not come with each New Year. Every day I am given is my chance to do better than the day before..with my kids, with my job, with my life. I can teach my girls that every mistake I make isn’t a sign of weakness but rather an opportunity to learn how to do things differently to get a better outcome. I can instill in them that happiness must truly come from within and show them that perfection isn’t the key to success in life. Perseverance is.
I am not the perfect parent. I never will be. But as long as tomorrow comes I have the chance to start fresh…to judge less, to learn more, to make change, and to be more patient and understanding. Each tomorrow is not my chance to be perfect but rather another opportunity to get as close to the best that I can be. After all, you can’t reach a long term goal without short term goals that measure your progress along the way.
So, every morning I open my eyes I will be thankful for a fresh start. I will take each day as it comes. I will understand that if I set unrealistic expectations for myself and others then I will constantly be disappointed. I know now that being a good parent doesn’t have to mean giving up doing for myself. And if I pass along any of this to my children than I will know I have done my job..not perfectly but to the best of my ability and with only the best intentions.
“Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.” –Bil Keane