For several years I have participated in a new years practice of picking one word to orient my life towards for that year. Words in the past have been “Rhythm” “Moments” and “Generous”. Honestly, this year I feel like so many words are needed. Words like :
I need them. I need all of them. I need to remind myself do these things. But the one that I need the most, the one that I choose to orient my life towards this year is “Laugh”.
I need to loosen up this year. I need to go with the flow. I have been quick to anger, I have been overwhelmed and stretched thin, and it is showing. I don’t like who I am when I don’t take care of myself. I don’t like the way I react to my children who are just doing the best they can with what they have to give. I want to smile more. I want to laugh more. I want to see my children laugh and join with them.
These years of infectious untamed joy in my children are so special and feel like I am missing them. I need to relax. Let go of some of my expectations. Take time to see the little things. Give myself more time. See the good in my children and name that as often as I can. And do the same for myself.
My son Henry is 4 years old now. He is young, but he is growing so quickly. I remember my sweet boy’s first smile. I remember the first days of his goofy laugh that jiggled his big chunky cheeks. Those giggles filled my heart. They gave me life. There is no greater joy than joining a delirious toddler in a laughing fit over god even knows what. It feels so good to laugh. And the best kind of laughter is the kind you do with others. It brings us together. You can chuckle at something funny when you are alone, but do you remember the kind of laughs that come from deep in your belly? The kind that make you cry. The kind that make your cheeks hurt. The kind that make you almost pee your pants? Those are the ones you do with others. Those are the ones I want to have more of with my family this year.
I don’t expect it to be easy. I know I will fail. But I know it’s what I want, and I will work hard to practice it every day until maybe someday it might come a little easier than it did the day before.
1) Practice mindful breathing in those moments I want to react. Remember to pick my battles and connect before I correct.
2) Spend more one on one time with each of my kids. Try a goal of once a week, alternating kids each week. Nothing elaborate, just joining them in something they love.
3) Spend regular time for myself to recharge. I cannot take care of my family if I am not taking care of myself.
4) Create a few new “Family time” traditions or rituals that create space for bonding and laughter.