There is something about New Year's day that signals an even more powerful urge to take stock of whether or not we need to course correct. My husband, Jeff, and I usually have these reflective conversations on a hike up Windy Hill or during date night at the Menlo Hub where he humors me while I make lists and goal sheets and he tries to sneak glances at the score on the bar's big screen.
Because of the season of life we are in (being parents of three relatively young kids), most of my lists involve my kids. This year, instead of my making a list of what I wanted to change, improve, or start anew, I made a list of what I am happy we are doing as parents--what is "working" for our family. I plan to give it to my children. Hopefully they will add to it and make it their own.
1. Celebrating the little things.
The big holidays are special, but we also celebrate the little ones. I think I learned to do that best from my dear friend, Ann, who moved to South Carolina. She made spicy jambalaya and baked a king cake for Mardi Gras and invited the neighbors over. She, and her husband Corey, hosted an outdoor movie night on their lawn to kick off fall. Forget the obvious holidays-- they taught me the art of celebrating the smaller magical moments.
2. Always reminding my kids that they are each other's best friends.
I openly admit that this is brainwashing. But when I ask my fourth grader who his best friend is, and he answers "my brother and sister", it simply makes my heart happy.
3. Going camping.
My kids haven't been to Hawaii, but they know most every campground in the area. Camping joy comes cheap; nothing beats a banana slug and climbing fallen trees.
4. Celebrating reading.
My most tender memories as a mom have been reading to my children. We've read countless books together. I plant random library books in the backseat of the car or on the kitchen table so my kids will stumble upon them. Going to the library once a week and participating in the summer reading program there has been as much a part of my children's childhood as after school sports. It's too early to tell, but I'm hoping all this translates into a love of reading that follows my kids into adulthood.
5. Having them earn money working for other people.
You can't slack off with non-relatives. My middle son, Jack, brings in our neighbors' garbage cans and walks their dogs. He is very proud of himself and has become quite the little businessman. Our neighbor (and one of his employers), Betsy, got him an electronic change counter for Christmas. You would have thought it was an Xbox 360.
6. Being a part of a faith community.
This is different for every family, but I am grateful my kids are developing their own relationship with God. My personal religious journey has ebbed and flowed, and I am grateful they are developing a foundation but can follow their own path from there.
7. Being clear about what's expected.
On the bulletin board in our kitchen, we've got the "Glanville Family Values" posted. They're pretty simple:
• Keep a positive attitude
• Work hard and do the best job possible
• Be friendly and show kindness to others
• Always have good manners
8. Writing an annual letter.
Each year on their birthday, I have written a letter to our children in which I've documented the funny, important and special things they said and did throughout the year. (Dylan's letter this year will definitely include the trip to urgent care to remove the Lego he inserted up his nose). I also talk about how it feels to watch them grow. Most importantly, I talk to them about how much Jeff and I love them.
9. Appreciating family.
We are very blessed to have all four of our children's grandparents actively involved in their lives. They role model, spoil, dote and love our children to death. Our kids are also blessed to have aunts and uncles who drive to basketball games, give batting tips during Little League season, and provide lists of classic "must have" playlists for any emerging music aficionado. Having cousins to grow up with is more than icing on the cake. Having not had extended family growing up, I recognize this is an incredible gift to be treasured.
10. Saying "I love you". A lot.
McKaela, Jack and Dylan, we love you. I just wanted to use this holiday rest stop to say that.