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January 7, 2013
We the Parents
Goal Oriented
by Melissa Howell

I have never much liked the word “resolve,” especially as it is associated with New Year’s Day. The first definition for “resolve” on gives us this: “To come to a definite or earnest decision about; determine (to do something).”

Not much of an action word, would you agree?

I think resolving to do something simply means that I like the idea of something but I don’t really feel strongly enough to actually do something about it. Hence, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that I never make New Year’s resolutions for that very reason.

But “goal” – here is a word I can really grab hold of! The first definition on is this: “The result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.”

Thus, I believe wholeheartedly in setting New Year’s goals.

Something akin to terror or panic seized hold of me when I reviewed a picture I had just taken of my four kiddos in their new PJs on Christmas Eve. These were not the faces of little kids peering out at my from the screen; they were, well, older than they once were. This happens I know, so it shouldn’t come as a real shocker. But there are moments as a mom when my kids seem to take these big leaps. And this was one.

Whoever quipped that motherhood consists of long days and short years certainly spoke those words with experience and truth. Somewhere between the sleepless nights and the sibling fights, the laundry piles and the medical files, and playing countless roles from chauffeur to maid, chef to teacher’s aide, something amazing happens: children grow up. And the older they get, the busier they become, and subsequently, the more quickly time passes. Which brings me to my first mothering goal for 2013:

- Goal No. 1: Do a better job of recording our memories. I used to be a pretty good blogger, maintaining our little family blog with the strictest of diligence. Several times a week I blogged, about everything from a baby’s first bites of food to the simplest of joys I found in motherhood. Then, something happened. It’s slowly been going downhill; I blame the instant gratification of Facebook, as well just the increasing busyness of a growing family with growing interests and activities. But I want to remember these times – I really do! I am amazed at how much I captured on my blog in the past years and I thank myself every time I get lost in the archives of our lives. But I have really slipped up.

I also used to scrapbook. True to legend, my oldest has a beautifully documented scrapbook of his first four years of life; his first walk is captured, his first nap in his crib, (OK, his first everything, really). My second has about a dozen pages from her young life. My third has one page, and it doesn’t even reside in any sort of a book. My youngest has a birth certificate around here… somewhere. Has anyone out there avoided this stereotypical slide? I have not. Clearly. It’s captured (or not captured) for anyone to see (or not see).

Whether it’s blogging and blog books or scrapbooks or journals or what have you, I have really disappointed myself this past year in this department. It matters not how many people read or don’t read blogs anymore, but it matters to me that I am giving my children a quality life filled with memories, and then capturing those memories… for me, for them, for their posterity.

- Goal No. 2: Hug more, yell less. I am a fairly feisty person, and I am not always aware of how quick I am to raise my voice. I dislike this about myself. I have one child who is particularly sensitive to yelling, and I have really worked on this over the years, with good results I am happy to report. But I can still do better. And in a self-reflective examination, I find myself to be a good hugger, and also good at saying the words “I love you.” But no child can ever hear those words too much, nor receive too many hugs.

- Goal No. 3: Dance more. My 2-year-old can not only say “shake your booty” cuter’n anybody, he can do it like it’s nobody’s business, too. I believe there are few ills a good dance party can’t cure. It’s practically miraculous how it can lift the mood in the home and erupt in a plethora of smiles and giggles, no matter what else is going on.

- Goal No. 4: Continue to find joy in the journey. My 7-year-old daughter was sweetly helping me with an extremely disgusting and challenging cleaning job involving my toddler, and she commented on how hard it seems to be a mom. I looked at her directly.

“Yes, it’s the hardest job I’ve ever hard, but it’s also the best,” I replied.

“That doesn’t make any sense,” was her response.

Yet somehow it does. When a child makes me so mad I could run for the hills screaming all the way, I can gaze into his or her face and feel so completely overwhelmed with love and humility for this job I have undertaken that it hovers near and sometimes transcends a spiritual experience. I can always know that even on the hardest days that love is there, and the difficult times are always followed by moments of parental bliss. It’s a roller coaster, to be sure. I am grateful for the ups, the downs, the whole shebang.

Ultimately, these goals are stepping stones to my ultimate goal of raising good, strong people who contribute to their worlds in positive ways. It takes more than resolve; it takes work.

Here’s to a new year!

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