Invitations, Not Resolutions

Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month we’re writing about how we want to parent differently — or the same — in the New Year. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Invitations, Not Resolutions

I don’t do resolutions. I don’t do them because there are so many things that are easier to say than to do. I don’t do them because they are made to be broken, and I wish to be whole. I don’t do them because I deserve more than token self-improvement once a year. I don’t do them because I deserve compassion and love every moment of every day, and the shame of failed resolve never.

I do have intentions and aspirations though, not annual, but arising from every day. I intend to treat my child — as well as myself — with the respect and compassion he deserves. I aspire to be the parent I glimpse in myself in those moments when he is falling apart and I am overflowing with love and patience and creativity and am able to smooth things over seemingly without effort.

Of course, they are intentions and aspirations because I so often fall down. A resolution, once failed, is broken. An intention, to the contrary, can act as a guide in the broken moments: So you messed up, it says, what can you do now?

Because in every moment, I have a chance to do better. In any moment, I can choose love, and compassion, and creativity, and joy. At any time, even if I was just yelling and screaming and snatching and controlling (resolution fail!)… I can stop. And breathe. And let my intention fill me, and choose another, kinder, path.

Sometimes I am able to. Sometimes I choose joy in the first place; sometimes I can stop myself mid-yell, or better, exhale my angrily inhaled breath in a silly stream of tongue-blowing release. Sometimes, inevitably, I cannot, and even as I recognize that the path I am on is not the one I wanted, I cannot seem to let go of the rage, the fear, the need to have things just so when my child is determined to have them just so in an incompatible way. And then? Then is when I call forth my aspiration again, and first forgive myself for not being the way I wanted to be.

I do not think yelling (in the bullying way of a powerful parent to a marginalized child) is OK; I don’t think it’s effective, appropriate, or beneficial to any human relationship, much less the parenting one. But even when I do it, I am still deserving of love and compassion — just as my child is as he throws himself on the floor because I cannot make the planes stop flying overhead, or will not offer myself as his human punching bag.

And maybe resolutions work for some people. Maybe some need that break, that absolute abandonment of a prior way of being; far be it from me to tell another how best to live, and obviously, I lack perfect answers. But I, I do not resolve. I invite, and intend, and aspire.

This year, as in each moment, I invite into my life: compassion for the hurt; love for the angry; creativity to search out satisfying solutions; laughter for those falls and flaws and faults; and joy in even the darkest moments. And oh, let it begin with me.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(All the links should be active by noon on Jan. 12. Go to Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama for the most recently updated list.)

• To Yell or Not to YellThe Adventures of Lactating Girl
• It Is All About Empathy: Nurturing a Toddler’s Compassion PotentialBaby Dust Diaries
• To my babies: this year…BluebirdMama
• Mindfully Loving My ChildrenBreastfeeding Moms Unite!
• January Carnival of Natural Parenting: ResolutionsCode Name: Mama
• Imperfect MotherConsider Eden
• ResolutionsCraphead (aka Mommy)
• FC Mom’s Parenting Resolutions 2010FC Mom
• What’s in a Resolution?Happy Mothering
• January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting resolutionsHobo Mama
• Natural Parenting ResolutionsLittle Green Blog
• This year, I will mostly…Look Left of the Pleiades
• Parenting ResolutionsThe Mahogany Way
• I Resolve to Breastfeed In Public More Oftenmama2mama tips
• Moving to Two KidsMegna the Destroyer
• Use LoveMomopoly
• My parenting resolutionsMusings of a Milk Maker
• Talkin’ ’bout My ResolutionsNavelgazing
• Parenting ResolutionsOne Starry Night
• Invitations, not resolutionsRaising My Boychick
• No more multitasking during kid timeThe Recovering Procrastinator
• I need to slow down, smell those roses AND the poopy diapersTales of a Kitchen Witch Momma
• Resolutely Parenting in 2010This Is Worthwhile

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16 Responses to Invitations, Not Resolutions

  1. Wonderful, thought provoking and inspiring – thanks so much. I too struggle with the whole ‘resolutions’ idea, but it’s good to have a plan of where you want to go in life. Love that you are loving yourself :)

  2. Great post. So true that resolutions can be self-limiting by focusing on absolute compliance. I’ve always thought of resolutions as themes for intentionality which is why I guess I like them so much! Thanks for the reminder to be kind to myself all year.

  3. ‘Love for the angry’ – no small feat. I think that’s a great intention, especially when serving as an example for little citizens of the world.

  4. Good post! I *usually* don’t make resolutions for the same reasons. <3

  5. I love this idea, invitations instead of resolutions. Brilliant!

  6. Forgiving onesel is so important, isn’t it? What wise words – great post!

  7. I mostly lurk on your blog but I will come out of lurkdom to say this was a great take on “resolutions.” I don’t usually make them because I know I will often fall short however I have given myself permission to be an ongoing process of improvement. Your posts often leave me with food for thought and this one is no exception.

  8. I love this. I love how you put your thoughts up here in such a naked kind of way. You are always inspiring Arwyn!

  9. I’ve been thinking about this, because yesterday I did something parenting-wise I’m not proud of, and today I had a chance for a do-over, and I took it. I was thinking that if I’d had a resolution about the issue, I’d have failed and given up. But since it was an intention, I could forgive myself, learn from the incident, and give myself permission to try again next time.

    So, thank you, as always, for making me think — and even, in this case, do.

  10. Thank you for the reminder about forgiveness and about being able to switch gears even in the midst of losing it, of letting your intention reframe the moment and of choosing not to lock in. Thank you. Nice post.

  11. What a great post, thank you for giving me so much to think about!

  12. Great post! Being able to switch gears in mid moment. That is something I need to work on. Thanks for the reminder that it is possible.

  13. Yes, every day is a day for new aspirations and every year of our lives is a chapter that seems to write itself. I’m always a bit flummoxed by the idea that we have to parent in a certain way every day of our lives. Truthfully, I rarely do anything the same way over and over. Each exercise is added upon, tweaked, and sculpted. If we find ourselves in mid-yell one day I say, “Ok. This is how I’m doing it today,” but it’s never a failure. It’s just another brush-stroke on the canvas that day (how many metaphors can I jam into this comment?? haha).

    Lovely post and I feel ya on all points.

  14. Pingback: Good Goog » I’m Late, I’m Late for a Very Important Date

  15. Pingback: Reply-turned-post: teaching patience « Raising My Boychick

  16. Pingback: Choosing Joy « Raising My Boychick

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