New Year’s Eve is one of my favorite holidays. I love everything about it. Getting dressed up, spending time with good friends, and watching the ball drop.
I love closing the door on a year. If it has been a trying year, I feel like it gives me the opportunity to change my karma right in that moment. If it’s been a great year, I’m even more excited to see what’s next. It’s just the perfect ending to my favorite holiday season.
Until I wake up the next morning with a champagne hangover, bloated from indulging in all those snacks and exhausted from staying up too late. Which reminds me of why I hate New Year’s resolutions.
For years I promised myself that this would be the time that I lost five or 10 pounds or exercised five times a week or got up at 5:30 a.m. every morning to write or work out or just drink a cup of coffee in peace (or maybe even give up coffee?) But I never do these things. At least not like I write down on a piece of paper as the “experts” tell you to do.
Sure, I’ve lost five and even ten pounds. Several times. When I did, I felt a little better about myself, but it didn’t change my life. I exercise fairly regularly, but sometimes I go weeks without working out. And my life doesn’t fall apart if I don’t make it to the gym. I’ve even tried to go to bed earlier and wake up with the birds, but somehow my night owl self gets the best of me and I end up writing at 11:30 at night and hitting snooze until 7:30 a.m. most days. Somehow, I’ve accomplished a lot this year despite my bad habits.
Don’t get me wrong. I think New Year’s Resolutions can serve a purpose, but I think starting a habit can happen at any time. Starting a fitness regimen or nutrition plan doesn’t have to start on January 1 or deciding to change some bad sleep patterns doesn’t need a holiday for a jump-start.
I believe most of us use New Year’s resolutions in the wrong way. We choose things that we don’t like about ourselves and resolve to change them.
What usually ends up happening though is we bite off more than we can chew, spend time searching for the perfect solution or try to change something that we’re not quite ready to change.
The result is failure — which isn’t exactly the way we want to kick off a brand new year.
Last year, I decided to change my resolutions. I didn’t want to change me. I wanted to improve upon my life. I wanted goals I knew I could obtain and goals that I could look forward to achieving.
I thought about what made me happy — I mean really happy — and decided to do more of that. And I realized it wasn’t about changing me. It was about planning for what I wanted to do more of in the upcoming year.
It was so simple.
- Focus on experiences with my family.
- Spend time with friends — no matter where they live.
- Write more.
That was it. And I was laser focused achieving my resolutions.
This year, I took my kids on an epic two-week road trip over the summer, saw all the major sites in Chicago and have hit every park in a 40 mile radius. The hubby and I spent more quality time together in 2014 than ever before, including eating at so many restaurants that we should have our own show on the Food Network. I asked for a bicycle for Mother’s Day so I could bike to school with my girls and take spur of the moment rides when I felt like we needed to spend some together time. And that doesn’t even count the hours I spend transporting them each week in the swagger wagon.
And I am a better wife and mom because of it.
I also found the time to see nearly all of my best friends at least once this year, and some a few times. Despite work schedules and kids’ activities and family obligations — we made it happen. We celebrated milestone birthdays and beach vacations and “just because I missed you” impulse trips. And every mile on the highway, every minute of sleep lost, every hour spent stressing about the family surviving without me, was worth it to make memories with my beautiful friends and extended family who happen to live all over the country.
And I’m a better friend because of it.
In 2014, I wrote. I wrote about things that touched my heart and some things that scared the crap out of me. I wrote about things that made me laugh, and I wrote about things that made me cry. I wrote when I didn’t want to, and I wrote even when I was scared no one would read it or like what I had to say.
And I am just a better me for writing it.
Although I didn’t finally lose those five pounds or become a Cross Fit champion or become an early riser — I am grateful, I am happy, I am whole.
Because I despise New Year’s resolutions. But I love planning for a new year, and love living out those plans even more. By focusing on what made me the most happy, I achieved more this year than I ever could have imagined.
This year, I’m going to do what I always do on December 31st. I’ll probably be a little tipsy, kiss a tall, dark, handsome guy at midnight, and hug some of my dearest friends tight.
And instead of waking up with dread about hitting the gym or eating more salads or quitting my coffee (so not going to happen), I’m going to look at my calendar to see how I can make my New Year’s plans happen.
Because life is for living. And my New Year’s resolution is to live it.
Happy New Year’s! What are your plans for 2015?
Every year I wait for what impending doom awaits me at the holidays. 24 hour bug? Lice? A last minute request from Santa? Polar Vortex?
It’s the final countdown. Are you ready?
I recently wrote a post about how my friend spoke to me from the grave on Facebook. I was a little scared to put it out there. I mean, seriously, it’s a little far-fetched, right?
But it happened, and in my bones I felt like it was a communication, a message, a quick shout out from the beyond.
I was comforted by the fact that so many people had similar experiences to mine and related to my story. The post was widely read and shared by both those I knew and some new readers. And no one called the looney bin on me.
Most interesting to me, however, was the introduction to the phenomena of “godwinks,” those little clues in life that remind us not to rule out significance of the spiritual. Godwinks was coined by SQuire Rushnell, a father of School House Rock and author of When God Winks: How the Power of Coincidence Guides Your Life.
While I am a deeply spiritual person, I don’t always see eye to eye with organized religion; but this theory — this idea that a higher power is all around us and intervening in our daily lives — well, I’m totally on board with that.
My life has been filled with godwinks for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, it may have been reading a book with a message I needed to hear at exactly the right moment or finding a lost piece of jewelry just when I needed it.
But as I get older, the godwinks are stronger and more in my face. For example, a few years back I hosted Christmas at my house. My husband’s family was coming and I wanted it to be perfect. Two days before Christmas, the day my in-laws arrived, the stomach flu hit the kids and I full force. Fortunately, it was short-lived and we all recovered for Christmas morning — just as it started hitting the rest of the family.
The feast I had slaved over was barely touched, the pies sat sadly on the counter. That night, as I slept on the floor in my daughters’ bedroom to hold their hair back as they wretched into pink garbage cans, my house felt like a scene from the Walking Dead. All night you heard people rushing to bathrooms and the stench of sickness just sat in the air. My sister-in-law, who brought her new boyfriend for Christmas, tried to escape early the next morning during a snow storm, only to have them both start vomiting the moment they walked through their door. It was a disaster.
We tried to make the best of it the next day as we all munched on dry toast, but on the morning of the 27th, the day of my dad’s birthday, I walked down the stairs to see my Christmas tree on its side. It had fallen over sometime in the night, and the only ornaments that broke were the two my dad had given me: a University of Florida glass ball and a Hallmark “Our First Christmas” figurine. Both were shattered and despite my husband’s best efforts were ruined.
I was devastated. My dad had passed away nearly five years before and losing any piece of him was like losing a piece of my heart. To avoid having a complete meltdown, I decided to just pack up Christmas altogether. I worked tirelessly the entire day to put away every scrap of Christmas paraphernalia, telling my in-laws that I was just trying to get a jump on it. As I loaded the last box up in the attic, I threw an old suitcase to the side. Before I laid the box down, I saw a piece of plastic sitting on the floor.
As I picked it up, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was my father’s luggage tag from decades before. It was imprinted with the TWA logo (I told you it was old) and listed his office address as the Empire State Building.
I was sure that it just fell out of the suitcase, but it was so odd that it appeared at that exact moment. My mom had used the suitcase a million times, and although she told me I could give it to the Goodwill, I just couldn’t bear to part with it. It moved with my husband and I a few times, but we never used it.
As I brought the luggage tag downstairs in disbelief, I showed it to my husband. Knowing that I was so upset about losing my dad’s ornaments, he took it out of my hands and grabbed a leftover ornament wire and stuck it through the hole. It was the perfect reminder of my dad at the exact moment I needed it. It was a quintessential godwink.
According to the God Winks web site:
In times of UNCERTAINTY what we desire more than anything else is CERTAINTY. Certainty that our families are safe. Certainty that we won’t get downsized or that we’ll have enough in the checkbook to make it through the month. We crave certainty when we get a scary medical report. And we long for certainty in our relationships…To me, the best thing about godwinks is that they are TANGIBLE SIGNPOSTS along our way, giving us hope, replacing uncertainty with a genuine feeling of CERTAINTY that everything is going to be okay!
Yes, that is what godwinks are to me. Certainty that I am on the right path, certainty about my role in my family, certainty that those I have lost are still nearby.
This time of year is tough for so many people. It is a time when people feel lonely despite the crowds, when people feel overwhelmed with wants instead of grateful for what they have, when people feel uncertain in a world filled with Sandy Hooks, and hostages in Australia, and riots over racial tensions.
But it is also a time to look for godwinks — and give your own. Call the friend you’ve been meaning to because they may need to hear your voice at exactly this moment. Do something special for a stranger and you may be the godwink that changed the trajectory of his life. Look for signs of your loved ones everywhere around you, because you never know where they might show up.
You may believe that godwinks are a farce…mathematical, not mystical; coincidence, not divine. In general, I support science, proven facts, and numbers, but there is also room in my mind for God, for spirituality and karma, and most importantly, the possibility of miracles.
And who knows, this may just be a godwink for someone who needs it.
Do you believe in godwinks? Do you have any good ones to share?
Having twins isn’t such a big deal anymore. It seems like everywhere you go there is a set of twins or triplets or even quads.
But although there are more of us mothers of multiples, I find that parents of “singletons” still aren’t sure of the rules of friendship.
I get it. To be honest, it’s dangerous ground. As a mother of girl-girl twins and another daughter just a year behind in school, most people think they are triplets. Nearly everyone I encounter is extremely kind and includes all three of my girls, but I’m not sure if that is the best course of action (for them or my kids) so I thought I would provide a few tips:
+ Do I have to invite both twins to my child’s birthday party/play date? In my opinion, twins should not mean a package deal, so the short answer is no. It’s your party and you can do whatever you want. Most parents of twins would not want their child to be excluded for the sake of the other. However, I would offer the following guideline: if your child is in the same class with both twins, or the twins feel that your child is their mutual friend, then know you are probably going to have some hurt feelings. If the twins are in separate classes, than no, you do not have to invite the other twin unless you want to and have the room.
I’ve heard some parents of multiples grumble about this, and they feel very strongly that it is both their kids of none of them. When it comes to this then you have to do what works for your child–and that may mean playing with neither of them outside of school. From my point of view twins — even identical — need to be treated more like siblings than a set. It is hard when one of my daughters gets invited to more events than the other, but it is an important lesson that life isn’t always fair. In some instances, it gives me an opportunity to talk about social skills and being a good friend to the one who does not get invited.
I am very appreciative when moms reach out and discuss the issue with me. For example, one mom said that she could only fit five girls in her car for a birthday outing, but she didn’t want my daughter’s twin to feel left out. I readily told her that it was fine, but I did respect the mom’s compassion towards my daughter and the heads up before the invite came so I could discuss it with them. It’s then my job as the mom to ensure my other daughter gets socialization of her own. If one of my twins gets to do something fun, I use that as an opportunity for some one on one time, or she gets to invite a friend of her own over for the day.
+ I have been invited to a twins birthday party….do we get them the same gift? I always look at gift giving as a choice and personal, but I understand why this is a dilemma for some parents who don’t want to hurt feelings. The short answer is I always think it’s good to tailor the gift to the individual, but do whatever works for you. For example, for years my girls often got Barbies as gifts where one was blond and the other a brunette (just like my fraternal twin girls.) Separate but equal. For some people who really knew both my kids, they would buy something based on each girls’ interest (e.g., a Hello Kitty puzzle for one and a horse puzzle for the other.) My kids personally were never a fan of joint presents because they had to share everything, but that being said, they knew better than to complain — and sometimes a special gift for both of them did become their favorite. Any parent worth their salt is not going to let any of their kids get wrapped up in the fairness of the presents (pun intended) so don’t stress out about it! The last thing I want to do is stress another parent out.
Sometimes parents of twins have a joint party, but let each child invite their own guests. If you receive this type of invitation, feel free to only purchase one gift for the child that invited your son or daughter. Parents of multiples usually set the expectation for their twins before the event.
+ My child only likes one of the twins and no longer wants to play with both of them…what do I do? This is a toughie but a common problem. Although most people think that multiples have a leg up on socialization, it usually is the exact opposite. Parents of multiples don’t always seek out as much social interaction for their children because they have an always-available playmate, and if they do try to set up playdates when they are young, it is not always reciprocated since some parents find hosting multiple children a daunting task. This means that multiples can be behind when it comes to social issues.
Keep in mind that parents of multiples are often receptive to individual playdates, but no parent likes to hear that another child doesn’t like their kid. Instead, keep it positive: “My son loved playing Legos with Brendan at school and wanted to invite him over to build a new set. I thought it would be nice if they got some one on one time together, does Thursday work for you?”
In the rare situation that a parent of twins pushes back and suggests that you invite both, keep it simple: “My son doesn’t do as well when there is more than one kid over at the house. If it doesn’t work for your family, I understand.” But unless you have something specific to address about the other twin’s behavior, don’t use that as your excuse. Chances are the other parent is painfully aware that one of their children is more socially adept than the other — or maybe the other twin isn’t looking to forge a friendship with your child either.
At the end of the day, if your child befriends a twin, a set of twins, or the Gosling sextuplets, do what works for you; but as you should for any child, keep in mind the feelings of the kids and their parents. And if you are unsure, talk about it with the parents and they can decide what works best for their families.
A few months back, I was hanging out with an old friend who let her eight year old son have a coke.
“Don’t judge me,” she said with squinted eyes. “I know what you are thinking. It’s only one soda.”
“Okay,” I replied.
“Seriously, he never gets it and I told him he could have one,” she said.
“Okay,” I replied.
“One coke is not going to kill him,” she went on. “I know how you feel about it, but I already told him he could have it.”
“Absolutely, let him have it then,” I said trying to hide the smile on my face.
“Crap. Now you made me feel guilty. Now I can’t give him the (expletive) soda. You suck,” she said.
“Okay,” I replied.
It’s no secret to my close friends and family how I feel about kids and soda. Even though I don’t talk about it often, my kids will tell you they are not allowed to have it, unless it is a special occasion. It’s just not something I believe in, but I haven’t started a national campaign against it. I would love to say that I don’t judge you if I see you giving your kids soda, but I’d be lying.
That being said, I have a gaggle of friends who I think are fantastic parents that let their kids drink it…some by the liter. I don’t agree, but guess what…not my kids, not my dental bills. So I keep my mouth shut and my opinions to myself.
As moms, one of the things that rattle our cages the most is the feeling of being judged. Breast feeding, day care, c-sections, co-sleeping, organic, home school — the list of things that start the Mommy Wars goes on and on. I would go so far as to say it is the single pervasive issue that limits Girl Power.
But I do think there are two different types of judgment. First, there is the mom judgment that is self-inflicted, as illustrated above by the conversation with my friend. This is the type that is often proliferated through blog posts that say things like “Ten Reasons Why Co-Sleeping with Your Baby Makes Him Smarter.” It is that insecure feeling we get knowing that someone parents differently, and maybe that way is better.
And then there’s JUDGEment. I mean that of Judge Judy-like quality. Like when your kid pitches a fit at Target and the mom with four perfectly dressed, well-behaved children leans over and says, “Did someone miss his nap today?” Or like when another parent says, “Wow, your two-year old really knows how to use your phone. She must be on it a lot!” Or even when that stay at home mom says something in a group of women like: “I could never leave my kids with strangers all day.” And of course, the working mom in the group feels judged. Yep, I’ve seen all these things first hand.
One of the funniest truths about parenting is that we all feel we are “experts” yet at the same time we are all worried we are screwing our kids up (or if we don’t profess it, we certainly think it!) If you look at it from a macro perspective, being a “good” parent means providing for the child’s basic needs on both an emotional and physical level. For most of us, that involves developing a bond with our kids in a warm, nurturing environment.
While there are “bad” parents — those that are abusive, neglectful or choose to abandon their children altogether — most of us just want the best for our kids. So where is all the judgment coming from?
The details. The little things. Stuff that seems important to us in our every day life, but really are just a matter of personal preference. Bed times, breast-feeding, day care, co-sleeping, and yes, even allowing soda. It’s the choices we make for our own families because they are important to US, but may not be for others.
As moms, we are convinced that these little decisions will determine our children’s destinies, and if we don’t “help” others, they will live a lifetime of regret when their child is screwed up. Or, we feel so passionately about something that we believe we are actually “helping” someone by telling them that Twinkies will give their kid cancer.
But here’s the thing: at the end of the day, even an eight year old kid who is allowed to play his iPad until 10:30 p.m. while eating Cheetos and drinking a liter of Code Red Mountain Dew is probably going to turn out okay. That’s just the way the world works.
Unfortunately, as humans, we are programmed to judge others. Seriously, our brain is hard-wired for moral judgments. Add to this that parenting is the most personal and emotional task we can take on in our lives, and oftentimes linked to our self-esteem, and there really is no way we can completely eliminate the Mom judgment.
There are, however, a million different ways to respond to someone who is judging us. You can come back with a slew of retorts, you can ignore it, or you can confront it head on.
But the only way to stop judgment in its tracks is to simply not accept it. And we can do that by knowing our kids will be fine because we have done our job by loving them and making the best choices we can for our own families. Being confident in the decisions we make and keeping our eye on the big picture can allow that judgment to slide right off our backs.
Everything else we do for our kids — the breastfeeding (or not), the co-sleeping (or not), being a good role model by having a successful, fulfilling career or homeschooling — it’s all correct. Truth be told, we won’t know if we’ve screwed our kids up for another two decades anyway.
It’s also important to remember when you are feeling judged that it’s often not about you. When someone is projecting their issues onto someone else, it often speaks more to their own insecurities than it does to yours.
And what do we do if we’re the ones feeling all Judgey McJudgerson? Like when I saw that family at a nice restaurant all with their iPads out at the table or the kid who pitched a fit at the grocery store and his mom gave in by getting him a Snickers?
Well, when the judgment started coming out, I tried to change my thought process. Maybe that couple was just desperate to have a night out and their babysitter didn’t show up or maybe that Mom was just having a really bad day. Compassion can work wonders on judgment.
And I’m pretty sure those kids with their iPads and their snickers bar and even their soda, well, I’m pretty sure they will turn out just fine. Now if I can just stop screwing my own kids up.