Get stories and expert advice on all things related to college and parenting.
When Pandemic Life Gives You Lemons, You Take ThemShari Bender
Last year I did something I generally do not do; I made New Year’s resolutions for myself and my immediate family, which includes my husband and three sons. Before looking ahead to 2020, I figured I’d first look back and see how we all did. To score us, I am using the extremely scientific and highly accurate thumbs up/thumbs down rating system.
I wanted my sons to respond to my texts as quickly as they would to friends/girlfriends/spammers; the hours-long (or never) response time was unacceptable.
Overall, I would say they’ve done a pretty good job. Even my youngest, who is a freshman at college, has tried to stay in touch, a fact I truly appreciate. There have only been a few times when I could not get in touch with him (and, naturally, did what any self-respecting mom would do: I panicked).
My sons may not say a whole lot (I sometimes have to check to make sure they're still on the phone and that we haven’t been disconnected) or give enough specifics to satisfy me; however, I'm grateful for any level of communication.
We still have several members not pulling their weight in our group text (you know who you are). I even resigned once but asked back in when two-thirds of my boys indicated a willingness to consider reacting to my posts even when they think they are meaningless or irrelevant.
Unfortunately, things are only marginally better, so I may be forced to consider joining other family chats — if you’re willing to have me, please send me a private message. I don’t wish to oversell myself, but promise I’ll always respond and do my best to contribute to the conversation. I’m known to make a joke or two and I am up on a handful of Netflix and Amazon Prime shows as well as current events. Think of me as your crazy but lovable aunt.
A BIG win in this category. I’m happy to announce that last spring my oldest son became engaged to his girlfriend (see photo below), who we already consider a daughter. I don't claim that my prodding or writing about it had anything at all to do with the engagement, only that it was all thrilling and the wedding will be in 2020. That alone gives me something terrific to look forward to in the New Year.
I’m still considering getting a puppy until grandchildren arrive. But not during the winter or before the wedding.
I would say I have not improved nor has anyone else in my family. If anything, we have gotten worse. A few days ago I dropped my cell phone on my face (too long a story to go into here) and gave myself a seriously black eye. It might have been the wake-up call I needed, so I’m going to renew my effort to work on this one. If you have any tips for us, we are listening.
Either my kids are complaining less or I’ve just gotten better at tuning them out. I prefer to believe that, as they have matured, they are starting to appreciate me a lot more. Yeah, that’s it.
This was perhaps my most important personal resolution. I wanted to get better at not waiting until a point in the future to be happier. I’m pleased to say I am doing well with this one. I have continued my yoga practice, which helps me feel grounded (and as an added bonus has alleviated some of my back issues) and I’m working on appreciating the here and now.
Since becoming an empty nester a few months ago, I have been trying new things. I’ve learned how to play the card game canasta, gone into NYC more, and made a few new friends. And at the prodding of my oldest son and the universe, I went to my first Phish concert. Which I really enjoyed. These are baby steps to be sure but at least they are steps in the right direction.
Overall, I would say that, despite a few areas which can still use improvement, my family and I have done pretty well this past year and I am proud of our progress.
2020 is not just the start of a new year — it’s the beginning of a whole new decade and I want to make sure I set the right tone for the coming years. I plan to continue to say “yes” to new things more than I say “no.” I’d like to go to the theater, museums and movies more, become a better (and less anxious) traveler and in yoga, be able to do a headstand. If/when that happens, I promise to share a picture. I also plan to try skydiving and bungee jumping. Just kidding. But all joking aside, my hope is to continue to evolve. I suppose that will my standing resolution for every year.
With my last son in college and my oldest son getting married, I am feeling the passage of time more acutely than I have in the past. Maybe that’s something that comes with mid-life, like graying hair and getting a little bit shorter (so annoying, right?). I am not saying I’m ready to pack it up, just that I understand that I need to use my time wisely. It’s okay to waste a little time looking at cat memes, but I also want to do things that are meaningful.