I know what you’re thinking. Oh, sure ... New Year’s “resolutions,” wink, wink. But this time, I mean business. Forget diets, running marathons and landing that raise. This year my goal is much loftier: I aim to be a better parent—a kinder, gentler version of last year’s model. Admittedly, I’ve made mistakes. Who hasn’t? But with my daughters growing at Mach speed, there’s not much time left to do this parenting thing right.
So here goes . . .
Spend more time with my kids, less time in court: Work and legal problems will be here forever; my children won’t. Besides, my daughters don’t charge $275/hour for their time, so this is a no-brainer.
Stop saying, “Just a minute!”: Imagine how this household mantra sounds to your kids. Translation: “Sorry, Honey. What I’m doing right now is far more important than what you need.” Instead, I’ll say, “Be
right there!” I still can be “just a minute,” but at least it sounds like I care.
Stop grilling my daughters after weekend visitations: I question them about their time with “dad” mostly to get the conversational ball rolling after a long weekend apart. But secretly, the voyeur in me wants a peek inside this life from which I’ve been cut off. Problem is, my kids feel conflicted, disloyal to their father when they face “THE INQUISITION.” So enough already.
Save more and budget better: For those of us who are fortunate enough to get child support, we need to remember that it is not guaranteed income. The ex-husband could get injured or lose his job at any time. Spend child support wisely, but don’t depend on it entirely.
Play more with my daughters: When you’re a single parent, you’re juggling so many balls—meals, chauffeuring kids here and there, doctors’ appointments, piano lessons, volleyball practice—there isn’t much time to actually play with your own children. This Christmas, I sat down and played some board games and we had a ball! For a few hours in my daughters’ fleeting lives, I was a “Fun Mom.” I need to do more of that this coming new year.
Talk more positively about the ex: My girls once asked, “What did you like best about Daddy?” It took some thought, but I came up with something constructive. And I’ll never forget how their faces lit up. Never forget that your ex-spouse has the same DNA as your children.
More group hugs and kisses: The three of us like to hug and kiss all at the same time. Silly fun, but it reinforces our bond as strong women in a never-ending circle of love.
Less pizza, more homemade soup: Who am I kidding?
Drink more water: I threw this one in because it’s an ongoing work-in-progress. I have the hardest time drinking enough water, and apparently, so do a lot of other people since nutrition experts say nearly 80% of this country is dehydrated! However, nothing is more critical to overall health and appearance than drinking water. It increases energy, keeps skin glowing, helps digestion, removes toxins, reduces headaches, keeps organs healthy and HELPS US LOSE WEIGHT! Bottoms up!
Count my blessings every day: I need to stop thinking about all the things I don’t have and celebrate what I do.
Be nicer to the ex: I saved the hardest resolution for last. Hey, it’s worth a shot. Then again, there’s always next year….
Lynn Armitage, is a freelance writer in Northern California. She is an enrolled member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin and also writes the “Spirit of Enterprise” column for ICTMN. She welcomes your comments at: Boatfolk@aol.com.