Tag Archives: Appreciation

New Year’s Commendations

Every year, as December rolls into January, we get out our trusty pen and paper and make a list of New Year’s Resolutions.  They usually sound something like this:  work out more, lose weight, be more proactive at work, be more positive, read more books.  As I began to think about what my resolutions would be this year, I stopped short and thought, “This is stupid.”  I am basically sitting here mulling over why I am disappointed in myself and my life so that I can 1. resolve to change these things, and then 2. in all likelihood fail to follow though, making me feel even worse.  So instead of making New Year’s Resolutions this year, I am going to flip this tradition on its head and make a list of New Year’s Commendations.  Rather than essentially listing all the things I want to change, I am going to list a few things that I think are just great about myself and my family members.  I figure starting out the year appreciating ourselves (and our loved ones) is much better than starting off the year thinking about what sucks about us.  Below are mine in case you’re curious but please feel free to stop reading after this paragraph (because I kind of think you might end up wanting to gag yourself, although I have tried to make you giggle a little too).  I mostly wrote this post because I thought New Year’s Commendations would be a nice change of pace.  You should do it too.  In fact, if you want to join me and turn this post into a gag fest, feel free to share your commendations in the comments section below.  I’d love to read them.  Happy New Year!

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Zack

You rock for your awesome imagination.  The stories you make up and tell us while you’re on the potty are hilarious.  Your “other” parents, Smokey and Pae, seem so real I sometimes think I can ship you off to their house when you are being a handful.  And thank goodness those two little baby cows you were playing with in my room this morning were fake because real cows smell like s–t.  Keep dreaming little guy.

Your love of learning and curiosity are such a great gift. I marvel at the way you ask us “what spells [insert word]” fifty times a day and how you made me explain, in gory detail, how Dr. Goldman took you and Addy out of my belly.  Your eagerness to understand the world will certainly shape your future in amazing ways.

Addy

Who knew a three-year-old could be one of the most compassionate and caring people I know!  The way you take care of your brother, bringing him his blankie when he is sad, always insisting he choose treats first and standing up for him as if you’re his hired attorney when he is misbehaving, is so wonderful to watch.  You would share your last gummy bear with a friend if it made her happy and if there is a baby within ten feet of you, you will immediately run over to help feed it, change its diaper or give it a paci.  Being so loving and considerate is one of the most beautiful qualities in a person and I am so happy to see that in you.

While you have an amazing soft side, I’m also proud to see a strong, assertive nature in you.  You are not afraid to speak your mind, stand up for yourself and others and ask for what you want.  While it can be challenging in the moment sometimes, you clearly tell me when you think I am not being fair and explain why you feel that way.  (“Mommy, why are you eating a cookie before dinner when you just told me I couldn’t have one?  That is NOT nice.”)  Being a confident girl who communicates her thoughts clearly are qualities that will surely take you far!

Max

We often talk about building character in our kids and there will be no better way for them to learn about grit, optimism, integrity and compassion than from watching you.  You’re the state school guy who got an interview at a big NYC investment bank senior year of college by calling the head of the group’s admin daily for weeks.  Then you scored the job against a sea of ivy leaguers by slapping on an ugly green Banana Republic suit and crushing the interview.   You’re the marathon runner and triathlete who still tells me I can run 26.2 miles one day if I put my mind to it (ha!).  You are the guy who gets dust in his eyes when he watches those ESPN stories about the down-on-his-luck high school basketball player who overcomes.  You know, the one who lost his arms and legs in a shark attack and then scored the winning basket at the championship game when his teammates carried him across the court and bounced the basketball off his head.  There really is no greater guy than you and Addy, Zack and I are so lucky to have you as our father and husband.

Me

Um…let’s see…I wash a mean dish and can fold my tongue into the shape of a clover?  It really is hard for most people to say what they think is commendable about themselves and that includes me, but I thought about this all day and here’s what I came up with.  I really do love helping others and making people happy.  I truly get a rush of happiness when spending a half hour on the phone helping a former colleague navigate career decisions or cooking a bunch of eggplant parm for my parents when my mom broke both of her ankles at once (true story).   I love making people laugh or smile, which is really the primary motivation for starting this blog.  Writing it is fun and thought provoking, but the ultimate joy comes from getting comments that say I made readers chuckle or just that they enjoyed a post.

So instead of looking to a list of New Year’s Resolutions to guide my focus in 2013, I am going to look at my list of New Year’s Commendations.  I will keep my family members’ commendations at the top of my mind so I can marvel more regularly at what I love about them and avoid taking them for granted as so often happens in the daily grind of life.  And I will use my commendations to simply remind me to do more of what I love doing.  Somehow, I think this approach will bring me more happiness than making a resolution to try to work out five times a week.  Especially when after two weeks, the “try to work out” in that sentence will be replaced with “eat a snickers bar in my closet.”

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Getting Engaged…Six Years After the Wedding

I’ve been hearing and reading a lot lately about the importance of being present, particularly with respect to one’s children.  Kids grow up so fast, everyone says, but you can slow the speeding bullet by putting aside the smart phone, pausing the mental list making and truly engaging with your child for a little bit of time each day.  While you engage, notice things. Look at their sweet faces, marvel at the funny things they say, really talk to them. Take some time, take a deep breath and take them in so you don’t find yourself distraught, years from now, wondering where their childhood went.

But this post isn’t about noticing our kids.  It’s about a recent dinner I had with my husband out at a restaurant on a random weeknight.  It would be cool if I told you that we totally lived it up – went to our favorite restaurant downtown, went clubbing, got wasted.  But that didn’t happen.  Instead, we went to a decent restaurant a few blocks away, talked about tantrums, budgets and work, got some froyo and were home by 10:00. While I’d like to think a fly on the wall of our dinner would have been enthralled by the analysis of our monthly Amex bills, it probably would have fallen asleep and landed in the salsa.

However, for a fleeting moment in the middle of the very grown-up dinner conversation, I was entirely present. For that short moment, I tuned out whatever we were discussing, really looked at my husband’s face and thought, “He is sweet and good and adorable and I am lucky.” My heart felt full and I was happy and grateful…and then I was zapped back into helping him figure out how much we can afford to spend on an apartment.

I’ve been thinking about that moment a lot over the last few days. It made me realize that the importance of being present doesn’t only apply to time with my kids, it applies to time with my husband too.  I make a real effort to spend quality, truly engaged time with Addy and Zack but I don’t do this as much with Max.  Sure, we spend tons of time together and have lots of fun, but rarely do I take a minute to sit and stare into his eyes.  I am guilty of devoting lots of words to complaining about the unimportant things he does wrong and few to telling him how truly blessed I feel to be his wife and the mother of his children. Most weeknights, instead of lying in bed focusing in on each other and talking about things that go deeper than budgets, we watch Homeland, talk about our plans for the week and then pass out.  None of this is to say we don’t love each other, because we truly do. We have just become victims of the parent trap – the trap that distracts us with logistics and worries and to do lists and leaves little room for just being together.

Now that I have had this seemingly simple realization, what do I do?  How do I remember each day to look at his sweet face, marvel at the funny things he says, really talk to him?  When can I take some time, take a deep breath and take him in so I don’t find myself distraught, years from now, wondering where the magic went?  Life is crazy, and it’s batsh-t crazy when you have kids, but it will fly by right over your head if you don’t take time to truly engage with what’s most important to you.  So while I’m really liking engaging with you so far, blog, I gotta go do some engaging with my main squeeze.