With summer barreling into view, I've embarked upon a mid-year resolution: stress less, love more - especially regarding my children. Sure, there's much about which to be concerned. Fluctuating gas prices, endless bills and expanded work hours are only a few of the issues facing many of today's weary parents. Yet, there's an innate warrior in all of us and we shall emerge triumphant, even with these challenges.
Meantime, I've resolved to lighten up and ditch worrying about what will be and concentrate on laughing more and enjoying each day. My kids should love this. Up until now, they've pretty much experienced the drill seargent-esque kind of mom. You know, the one that barks orders: Do this. Don't do that. Drop down and give me ten! Seriously, I call it the mama modec - always ready to teach a lesson or give a stern eye or respond with a "no." Yet, even for me, this style of parenting is old and tired, not to mention exhausting and annoying to others.
If a recent experience with my youngest son is an indicator, I'm tracking well already for a more relaxing and enjoyable summer. A couple of weeks ago, he announced that he wanted to see what was inside a raw egg. Typically, I would have delayed him, offering something along the lines of "now is not a good time; let's wait until the weekend." Many parents will recognize this as code for ‘I don't feel like getting all egg-y and having to clean up a big mess.' But, to my son's delight, I answered with a pleasant "OK, let's do it." And, we did. We bonded, he learned; and to honor Dr. Seuss, we even added green food color to the eggs then fried them. It felt good to be spontaneous and indulgent.
But, lest my boys get too happy, I'll have to communicate that my summer attitude doesn't mean it'll be all play and no work. I'm still going to be the enforcer and responsible parent-but to celebrate the steamy days ahead, I'm simply turning the dial down on my irritability and fussiness and way up on my willingness to engage more happily with the boys. Simple as it sounds; I imagine it won't be the easiest resolution to keep. That's why I've prayed earnestly to God to unveil my more gracious side. I'm trusting I'll succeed. So, here's to a happy summer and kinder, gentler parents everywhere.
Kysa Daniels is a journalist, non-profit professional and mother of three boys. For more Adventures in Parenting and parenting tips, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.