My college friends and I started a tradition on New Year’s Eve, declaring what the coming year was going to be about. “The Year of Me” or, “The Year of Change" and, “The Year of Nope” were most memorable (even if our actions in those years didn’t entirely embrace the theme). I liked this approach better than making resolutions, which always felt like I was setting myself up for failure. That has never felt truer now that I'm a mom, because there are some New Year resolutions I will eventually break. I no longer resolve to keep much order in my dresser drawers, or to get to work early. I don’t need to be a hero. I brought children safely into the world and I’m doing my best to raise them not to be jerks. I’m doing plenty.
Still, it’s easy to fall into the trap of idealizing motherhood, especially when I look toward the future. There’s always the hope that I’ll be a better parent: later, tomorrow, next year. It’s very difficult to be in the moment of managing a tantrum and call upon my own determination right to be the best parent I can be, especially when all I seem to be able to do is maybe prevent my kid from hurting himself as he pounds his tiny fists into the pavement.
I’m trying to get out of the habit of setting these goals in the form of resolutions for myself just because one year is ending a new one is beginning. My kids don’t really feel that divide, so I don't either. Do I want to be a calmer, more organized, loving parent? Of course I do. But that's something I want to always be working towards, and not something I save for next-year’s to do list. Plus, when you have kids you can plan all you want, but you can never count on it going the way you think.