It’s hard to get out of ruts in thinking and behaviors. With New Year’s approaching, I’m preparing for a big resolution to do just that. I share it with you in the hopes that you’ll help me stick to it, because lordy lord lord I am going to need a LOT of help with this:
I have wasted so much energy (we’re talking powering-every-household-in-California-for-a-year energy) stressing about the amount of time my kids spend playing video games (not violent ones, mind you—just innocent and fun sports games, for cryin’ out loud). My motivation is pure; I think they’ll benefit from varying things up a bit, getting a bit of Vitamin D. Using the lonely trampoline. Nonetheless, my obsession is a complete waste of time and has caused unnecessary anguish in our home.
Hold that thought, and pair it with this: Yesterday I mentioned to a visiting friend that our boys still like to read with us at night before going to sleep.
She stopped me, went wide-eyed and repeated back: Your boys. Like to read. With their parents.
I smacked my forehead (again): Duh!
Why do I not instead expend energy dwelling on that sweet fact? Or a million other sweet facts about my boys?
And why does it take other people to point out what’s right in front of me?
My older son is the person who most consistently points out my failings, and 99% of the time he is on the money, so I appreciate his constructive criticism. Ironically, it’s the things I do trying to be a good mother that mostly mess up. Irony sucks.
My friend, psychologist Lana Benedek, recently offered parents at the elementary school a Mindful Parenting lesson. Here’s some of it, and what I will endeavor to commit to my soul’s memory for my New Year’s resolutions:
- Honor your child’s sovereignty, accept his or her unique abilities and needs.
Let go of what I wish they would do or be and see that they are so perfect as who they are.
- Let go of perfectionist standards in parenting, and accept that even with the best intentions mistakes will happen.
My kids are funny, compassionate, loving, thoughtful, inquisitive, silly, smart and above all else, entirely themselves. They are more than anyone could wish for. And I don’t need any help at all remembering that.
Happy new year to all.