I used to be a big New Year’s resolutions gal. Each year, I’d make resolutions like these:
- Drop 15 pounds
- Cut out ALL sweets
- Work out at 5:00a.m. EVERY day
- Fit into my swimsuit by the fourth of July
I always started out strong. A vision of discipline on January first, I’d jump out of bed and squeeze into my sweatpants for the the latest fad work out. I’d gag down grapefruit and seek inspiration from swimsuit catalogs. I was unstoppable. Motivated.
Until January 5th. At that point, I’d start to slow down, too tired and sore for the early morning wake-up call and too hungry to think clearly. There went my resolve. My resolutions were out the door…until the next year.
Wisdom with Age
I’m happy to say my ideas about New Year’s resolutions have expanded with age. These days, I worry less about the pounds accumulating on my middle-aged midsection and concentrate more on overall wellbeing and how to be the best person I can be. I put thought into how I can positively influence and impact those around me. This includes my children.
As 2017 approaches, I find myself thinking about how I can improve as a parent and make the most of the days I have left in my current role as mom. You see, my hands-on, everyday parenting days are numbered. Our “baby” is eagerly awaiting college financial aid packages that will help her decide where she’ll be moving in August. Our oldest can actually see the end of her college career looming in the not-too-distant future and anticipates a career move abroad. Life as we know it will change in 2017.
In order to encourage and support our girls in this upcoming year of big transitions, I’ve decided to take a new approach on resolutions this year. I’m calling them my “more and less” resolutions for parenting young adults. They are:
1. Listen more and talk less
Listen. Just listen. Don’t over-react when she calls about her roommate’s boyfriend prancing around their dorm room in his boxers. Don’t poo-poo her frustration with a certain professor’s shortcomings. Keep in mind that sometimes kids need to simply vent as a way to process a situation. They don’t always need advice, but want a verbal dumping ground (a.k.a parent) where they can spew their thoughts and frustrations.
2. Mentor more and fix less
I’m admittedly a fixer. But, with older kids, fixing isn’t always the best course of action. Instead of immediately jumping in to solve a problem, this year I will ask thought-provoking questions that encourage my kids figure out a way to fix it themselves. As much as I want to help and continue to feel useful, deep down I know they grow from finding their own solutions.
3. Smile more and nag less
Mothers and nagging. Nagging and mothers. These two seem to go hand in hand. Whether it is about habits or appearances, many moms (including me) can over-parent our nearly-adult kids at times. We say things like:
“Your skirt is too short!”
“Your hair is too long.”
“You need to shave! Your mustache makes you look like a 70s porn star!” (Seriously, I know a mom who said this to her son).
While my girls and I don’t always appreciate the same styles, I need to keep perspective and remember my own fashion choices when I was a teen. Mall hair and mini skirts, anyone? Unless they’re leaving the house with their thong underwear showing, I need to fake a smile and let it go!
4. Support more and intrude less
“Adulting” is not easy. For kids or parents. Part of the challenge for parents is to know when to step in and when to back off. I recognize struggles, heartaches, and painful lessons are necessary parts of maturing. I will let them know I’m always here to offer support and show compassion, but I will give them the opportunity to seek advice, problem solve, and develop into healthy, successful adults on their own.
5. Empower more and worry less
Will this mom ever not worry? NO! But, I resolve to remember these two amazing young women have been taught about values and ethics and making good choices their entire lives. They are good humans with grit, intelligence, perseverance, and passion. I will spend less time worrying about them and more time demonstrating emotionally healthy behaviors for them.
From Diapers to Diplomas
Year end seems a perfect time to remember just how quickly time flies. It feels like our kids grew from diapers to diplomas overnight. I resolve to savor precious moments from the past and embrace those yet to come.
While this year will be an exercise in letting go, I must remember that I am not obsolete! Our girls will still need me to mentor and guide. I’m still their soft place to land when things get tough and a sounding board when situations come up that they’re not ready to handle. I will be there. I will listen. I will show compassion. I will love. I will always be their mom.