2019 Resolution: More Kids
My 2019 New Year’s resolution is the reason why this post is coming out “late”—at the end of January, instead of the beginning. Trust me, this is actually good thing.
For once I’m not ringing in the New Year with another auto-magical diet or exercise regimen that promises to make me the flawless queen of pretty and shapely and thin and healthy, forever. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing, over and over, and expecting different results. I’m over that #foolery.
My crazy 2019 New Year’s resolution is: more kids (less me).
I know this sounds like I’m basically resolving to stay a frumpy, frizzy, crabby mess for the year. Which might be accurate. But there’s slightly more to it.
Part 1 of my “more kids, less me” resolution is “more kids.” Yes, that means we’re hoping to get pregnant again this year even though we have a drooly 3-month old and a rebellious 2-year-old. Some people might (wrongly) think we’ve attained some silly “one-of-each-gender-and-done” goal. Others might (rightly) think we’ve got our hands pretty full. We like to think we’re just getting started. This is the easy part of the resolution.
Part 2 of my “more kids, less me” resolution is “less me.” This is actually the hard and crazy part because it’s the part that requires daily effort (and this effort isn’t nearly as fun as the “effort” required of Part 1, if you know what I mean 😉). This is the #athomewithkids #alldayeveryday part. And it’s critically important to the long-term success of Part 1.
Staying at home with my kids has opened my eyes to something crucial. Something I’d otherwise not want or be able to see in myself. A cold self-truth, the reality that I desperately need to learn how to support others by putting their needs first—not just sometimes, or when I want to, or when it makes me look or feel good, or because I get paid to. But specifically at those times when I would choose to put what I want, for me, first. I believe this form of self-sacrifice is the purest, truest form of love.
And personally, I suck at not putting myself first. Or at least at doing so joyfully.
But having kids has given me less choice in the matter, and this is a good thing, for me. I excel when I have fewer choices, more constraints. And the “constraints”—the sweet, innocent, dependent faces of my kids—motivate me to conquer my plain ol’ selfishy-self. Motherhood is my opportunity to grow into the person I want to be—a person of purpose on this earth, someone who truly loves and is of serviceable good to others, first.
I need “more kids, less me” because the sacrifice motherhood requires of me is colossal—the grueling impact of being at home with kids is flattening my pride, sharpening my empathy, eroding my selfishness—and I might as well not waste this. I might as well keep practicing “less me” in a way that helps both my kids and me grow in kindness, discipline and virtue. I want to be a mirror and model of goodness for my children, so they can absorb and shine it back into a disordered world.
I believe society’s disorder is a reflection of the disorder hidden in our homes and hearts. A disorder of selfishness. Practicing “less me” day-in-day-out, #allthetime with my family—my small home society—helps fight this disorder. If I can’t learn to be helpful and kind and unselfish with my children (or spouse), how can I hope to teach my children to be of true help and love in this crushingly huge and disordered world? If I can raise happy, healthy, kind, disciplined, virtuous kids, I can help salt the earth with good humans, with priceless contributions to our future society.
If this sounds too big and fancy for a New Year’s resolution, or at all to my own credit, please keep reading, so I can pull us back to practical reality.
Make no mistake: I’m not overflowing with an abundance of warm, kind, patient, sing-songy motherly talents. I do have a great voice for yelling, though. And a short fuse. And a minor phone addiction. And definitely a chocolate addiction. I still have withdrawals from my former kid-free life, the endless array of “me-first, me only” time and choices.
And yes, this ugly sometimes splats out at home with kids. The self-withdrawals remind me that I’m not quite yet the person I’d like to be. That I don’t have the patience I could for other people’s needs, needs, needs—especially if they interfere with my own, or are whined and cried at me for longer than I’d like. I am frequently grounded with reminders that no, toddlers can’t actually be expected to just #dowhatIsay #thefirsttime #dangit. That I—unlike my toddler—don’t have an excuse for tantruming, yelling, huffing, sulking, rebelling. Nor do I have an excuse for eluding my chores. Or escaping into my phone, for getting into the stacks of emails and articles and newsfeeds and all the curiosities Dr. Google and his forums procure as remedy. I am constantly humbled by my own desire to sneak-eat #allthechocolate #rightmeow and embarrassed that I let myself get away with it, by every possible reason and non-reason known and unknown to (wo)man.
So I’ve been figuring out how to implement “more kids, less me” into daily life. It means reading more books to the toddler, snuggled under the blankets of my bed (which is his favorite place, not mine), while nursing the newborn. It means more hugs, and apologizing when I yell, and less yelling. It means getting up to nurse the baby, or walk her around, because she’s fussing at the exact moment I was hoping to sit down to eat dinner with the fam. It means dragging myself and kids out of the house because isolation is good for exactly none of us. It means not putting on my running shoes to burn the chocolate off my thighs.
More specifically, the better moments of “more kids, less me” have looked like this…
I throw the fussy baby in the wrap, and try to interact with the toddler, instead of escaping them both by nose-diving in my phone or sneaking chocolate-covered granola at 7:45 a.m. Which means I also didn’t drop small pieces on sweet-and-finally-sleeping baby’s head, nor did the toddler catch me sneaking chocolate, and therefore didn’t have an all-out tantrum because I couldn’t explain my obvious double-standard for not allowing him to eat chocolate at 7:45 a.m. (Not to mention I might be reducing the chance he develops an oddly similar future bad habit.) I didn’t have to yell or drag tantrum-ing toddler to time-out, and therefore baby stayed asleep in her wrap. Nor did I have to wrangle up the time and energy required to forcefully burn off that sneaked chocolate. It meant I instead push-chased said non-tantruming toddler outside in the snow, while carrying sweet baby-cakes on me in her wrap inside my jacket, and bam! Cardio and strength-training done for the day. Plus, the fresh air and natural vitamin D and meaningful interaction and kid exercise and baby snuggle-nap goals are all accomplished—before lunchtime—and things like scroll-nosying other people’s lives and yelling and stuffing my face were avoided for over an hour.
It wasn’t magical. Let’s be honest: I’m still more selfish than I’d like to be. My favorite time of day is still kid naptime and I still prefer cleaning up toys to playing with them.
If I’m lucky, I’ve mayyybe netted a couple hours of "more kids, less me" so far this January. But I’ve got a million more chances throughout the rest of the year. And I’m gonna need ‘em to be next-level me for #3.
And maybe, just maybe, if I can keep practicing small bits of “more kids, less me” I’ll be able to make even more room for that next sweet, wide-eyed child we’re hoping for this year.