A version of the following post was previously printed in The Fresno Bee on Saturday January 5, 2019, as part of the monthly ‘FAB Mom’ family lifestyle column.
Hi, 2019. (Insert horn-blowing here.) Since becoming a parent almost nine years ago, each January has found me feeling less like my old young self. Some years have brought most ecstatic fruitions of dreams (in parades, on big-time television and in bookstores), some have brought the lowest of low aftermaths of actualized fears.
No matter what any year brings, my ongoing mom-goals have been to maintain stability for my kids, regardless of what I might be coping with personally. Years ago, I figured out how to thrive no matter what life throws me and have carried it with me ever since: I ditched making resolutions and started honoring realizations.
It was New Year’s Eve 2014. My daughters were 4 and almost-3. My husband and I opted for a 6pm family dinner at our local Japanese restaurant in lieu of the kind of party we’d hit up prior to kids. Instead of a spaghetti-strapped sequin dress I wore jeans a long sleeved top. Instead of me spilling champagne on myself while dancing, one of my then-toddlers spilled soy sauce all over me. Even though I appreciated that ‘this is what life is made of,’ it certainly did not feel as alive as years gone by. On impulse, I texted my ‘old group’ of New Years Eve cohorts — all of us married with kids.
My message went like this: Happy new year to moms who used to go weird from cocktails, once paid for drinks from someone else’s tip, wore “Happy 2000” glasses across our faces and back-bended way too far on the dance floor… Long live funny memories! jill
What happened next that night has stuck with me: Bloop! [the sound for a text-message alert] Oh the good old days! Bloop! Haha! I needed that reminder as our NYE plans were cancelled because of a sick baby! Bloop! haha! how life has changed! highlight of our evening is [toddler] finally went poo-poo in the potty! Bloop! We just ate spaghetti and threw it on the floor and screamed through our whole bath!!! Miss all of you and happy nye!
Responses from my friends went speeding back and forth, and on and on. Adorable pictures of precious munchkins who had singlehandedly highjacked each of our New Year’s Eves started rolling in. Cranky cuties in pajamas sitting on couches with sparkly hats made me laugh out loud.
My realization right then (with soy sauce soaking into my pants): Summoning the past can sometimes enhance the present.
Us new(ish) parents are on a relentless treadmill that pushes us forward, ramps change and forces us through new goals in the name of family life… but does that mean our pasts are no longer relevant? I’m not the same person from years ago, but reminding myself of who once I was — in appropriate bits and pieces — turns my outlook for the present and future more joyful and fulfilled. All those old friendships, goals we once did accomplish and random, ridiculous experiences still count as vital parts of our life story, even if some of them feel farfetched from the life we live today.
My realization for myself, for each of us, every year: To appreciate what we’re learning in our present, to stay hopeful for the future and to honor our pasts… because the past just might give us the exact kind of resolution we are seeking.
Who knew I’d learn so much from one text back in 2014? (I guess I can thank my kids.)