This morning, my six-year-old daughter asked me “What’s a resolution?” My flip response was going to be, “Something Mommy never does because she always fails.” Instead, I told her, “It’s a promise you make to yourself to do something you should do, or to stop doing something you shouldn’t be doing.” I swear I saw the little light bulb over her head as she said “So, I should have a resolution to eat more healthy food?” I told her yes, in fact that’s something probably everyone should do. “It might be hard though,” she said, thinking. Then: “But I when you do something that’s hard to do, you feel really happy about it.”

This optimism and sound logic is just one of many reasons why my kids teach me as much (or probably more) than I teach them. I rarely make resolutions, because when I inevitably fail to achieve those lofty goals, made at the bright, hopeful dawn of each new year, I end up feeling pretty crappy. Why try if you’re going to fail, right? Except, this is a terrible lesson to teach my children. As the supposed adults in the house, my husband and I are constantly preaching the “it’s better to try and fail than to never try at all” philosophy. On firmer, Yoda-inspired days we might even give them the ol’ “Do or do not, there is no try.”

This week my daughters went from never wearing a pair of skates, to gliding around the ice rather confidently, in a matter of hours. They fell down many times. They got up. Their noses were red, their toes were cold, their elbows were bruised, and still they didn’t want to leave. They keep asking when they can go again. Yet there was me next to them on the ice…in my sturdy boots. Why? Because I can’t skate. I tried, feebly, when I was a kid and when I didn’t instantly succeed, I became soured on the whole experience. Now, here I am, with older knees and less resistance to the cold, watching my daughters learn to skate and wishing I could skate along beside them. Wanting to do things with, and for, your kids is pretty strong motivation. Maybe even reason to make a resolution or two.

2015 was an emotionally exhausting year for me. My Mom died in February, and though it wasn’t unexpected, it was still extremely difficult. But one of the many important lessons my Mom taught me, both through words and through action, is that you have to keep going. Keep trying. If my Mom had given up, or thought, “Hell, I’m dying anyway, so why try to live?” she never would have met her second grandchild, or seen her son get married. She never would’ve witnessed how the family she helped build could grow stronger and closer in the face of crisis. Every day she lived was a gift to us, but also a gift to herself. I believe my Mom died with the knowledge that she lived a good life. Of course, like everyone, she surely had regrets, but likely not too many. My Mom embodied the word resolve.

I am optimistic that 2016 will be a great year. Many aspects of 2015 were great too. Losing someone is the best reminder of just how important love is, and just how many people there are to be thankful for. This week, standing on the cold ice while my daughters learned to skate, I was flush with gratitude. I am inspired by them, and by my Mom, to do more. To be better. To try. For the first time in 15 years, I’m going to make a list of resolutions. Number 1, learn to skate. Number 2, tell everyone I love how important they are in my life. Number 3, don’t let fear stop me from trying…anything.


2 thoughts on “Resolve

  1. A great post on resolutions. I’ve been giving some thought to resolutions (I haven’t really sincerely made resolutions in my adult life). Yet I am still pondering whether to write a post bouncing around in my head, I would entitle “Resolve to Resolve.” The jest of it is that resolutions, to use your words, consists of specified goals: I am going to read ten (or twenty or thirty) books this year. The alternative is to sincerely resolve to read as many books as I can given other important priorities in my life. The commitment means each day, the resolve to take action on would be reflected upon, whether a book is read or not. In this way there is no failure other than the failure to be reflective of what one seeks and how aligned it is in one’s life. After reading your post, I am pondering to what extent, at least bubbling under the surface, this a way to avoid failure.

    • Thank you for reading my blog, and commenting. I am unfortunately deeply familiar with that whole “avoiding in order to avoid failure” thing. But I think there’s definite merit in the trying, no matter whether the goal is achieved the way we hope it will be.

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