It’s become a cliche at this point, really. New Year’s resolutions are just more little lies we tell ourselves to make us feel better. They look good and make sense on paper.
I’m heading back to the gym.
Time to quit smoking. (Again.)
I’m back on the lemon juice diet until May 1st.
I am going to wake up every day and read ten pages of a classic novel right off the bat, then I’ll burst out of my covers and do 20 minutes of passion-filled yoga, and all before I ever even dare to think about heading down to the Mr Coffee and having another bowl of the Captain Crunch I buy for my kids (for me) even though they don’t even dig Captain Crunch at all.
I guess what I’m saying is this: Why don’t we just switch gears here a little bit? Instead of focusing on things about myself I just might fail at again, this year, my New Year’s Resolutions are gonna be all about my kids. In fact, my resolutions are actually three things I’ve already been doing for a while. I just want to make sure that I keep doing them, you see. I want to make sure that I don’t get lazy or sidetracked or forgetful when it comes to the stuff that matters in my little world — my kids. I think maybe these are the kinds of resolutions that could help you as a mom or dad, way more than being able to fit into the same jeans you wore in 10th grade.
Anyway, give me five minutes, will you? Hear me out. If you’re already doing this stuff, keep it up. If you’re not, I’m hoping I might be giving you the ticket to a very fulfilling new year …
1. Zooming in and out.
As a dad to three kids ages 5, 3, and 10 months, and as a once-upon-a-time husband now going through a divorce, the extremely simple art and act of constantly looking at my own life from a multitude of angles and vantages has been a real lifesaver for me this past year.
So often, we tend to just get real comfortable seeing our days pass us by from one particular row in the theater, so to speak. Trying to see things from a different perspective can help immensely.
I do that. For me. And for my kids. Even in the actual heat of battle, when my son Henry is having an epic tantrum on the kitchen floor while his sister is asking me for a chocolate milk and their baby brother is spitting up formula, I try and stop myself as I’m losing my mind. Trust me, it doesn’t always work — there are times when I lose my mind and I holler or panic or even feel like I’m going to hurl myself through the window and just run down the road until I hit the woods.
But when it does work, which is more and more frequently, and when I am able to zoom way back on this situation going down around me in real time, and I see me as a character in a film, I am suddenly able to direct myself towards the best possible ending to the scene! Or, if I need to, I can zoom way in, and concentrate on the kid that needs me the most. And by doing that, I can maintain my calm, manufacture enough Zen to get me through the next fifteen minutes, and help the kid who needs me most.
So yeah. I’m gonna keep on doing this in 2015. I have to. I’m a dad. It just makes sense.
2. TV time.
Over the past few months, as I set up my own house as a single-dad and struggled with finding and maintaining the necessary grooves that help my kids feel safe and happy, I lost something big. I became this Tasmanian Devil of hyperactivity, hardly ever stopping to just sit down on the couch with my daughter and sons to watch a little SpongeBob with them or whatever.
But then a few weeks ago, I realized that enough was enough. Certain things, certain chores and all could wait. I had to do it. I needed to be with them, even if just for 20 minutes a day, in a position where they could climb all over my body and stand on my head and stare at me while they poke my face with their Hulk action figures and their stuffed animals. We needed each other to be with each other, if that makes any sense. So now, I’m all about it. I leave dishes in the sink even when I want to get them done, and I collapse onto the couch where they’re jumping around if they’re still wired, or where they’re curled up if they’re getting tired, and I just chill with them for a little while.
And it’s everything to me, man. And to them, too, I just know it. I’m going to keep doing this in 2015. And I’m going to keep doing this until three teenagers see me doing it and then get up slowly and move off to their bedrooms without a word.
3. Talk about love.
I lost love this year. I lost my marriage to divorce. And listen, no matter what anyone says about that, no matter how much you did or didn’t want your relationship to end, it still hurts when such a gargantuan potential source of love in your life is suddenly gone. There is a void the size of fifty galaxies that settles in your bones. Where there once was love, blooming and thriving, there is just this nuclear wasteland, winds-a-wailing.
That’s where my kids saved me, I think. Even without knowing it or trying, our kids are a saving grace in this world, just by being here. They heal our broken hearts with a mere glance across the room, a little at a time, never realizing the super-powers they possess.
So I’ve come to understand that I need to tell my kids just what they mean to me. Not in some sappy, overwrought way that spoils them or makes them immune to the power of my compliments either. I get it. I get what I’m doing. I just need to tell them on a daily basis that I love them bigger than a T-rex, and higher than the “Vampire State Building,” and heavier than fifty elephants stood upon their tiny heads.
If you haven’t been saying it as often as you maybe could, well, you’d be surprised how high it can make you, telling a child you love them on a daily basis. You’d be surprised how much juice it can put in your engines.
I’m so glad I started doing this. I’m so glad I started getting off on letting them in on my thing for them. And I’m so glad that, as 2015 rolls in like the unstoppable tide of mystery and madness that it’s bound to be, I already know a couple easy ways to roll with the punches life will land upside my head.
These kids, huh? Who knew?
Happy New Year to you and yours.