Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution? I have. Every single year, I have.
It’s probably a good sign that the human race buys into the self-betterment theme at least once a year. However, I’m not sure how much self-betterment actually takes place. I’d all but given up on New Year’s resolutions by last year.
Here’s another question. Have you ever accomplished whatever it was you were hell-bent on doing? Are you 10 pounds lighter? Did you learn how to swing dance? Are your closets perfectly organized? If so, then high five!
I’ll be honest. I have never, ever, reached Dec. 31 and looked back to see that, by golly, that New Year’s resolution was just the thing I needed to turn my whole life around. I’m one of the many who start out strong — or not-so-strong — or somewhere in the middle, then fizzle a month or two into my endeavor.
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Perhaps it comes too close to Christmas. In the season of generous giving, our wishes and needs get served up to us on a platter. People are overtaken by charity, collecting for the poor, buying extra toys for kids so they won’t go without.
A New Year’s resolution is a huge shift of gears. There are no bell ringers collecting broccoli to help slim the overweight. Santa does not fill stockings with cash to pay off credit cards. In fact, Santa doesn’t make an appearance at all. He’s probably spiking his eggnog and getting the elves to rub his feet, trying to find the gumption to take down his Christmas decorations.
What do we get? A baby. A brand new, mostly naked New Year’s baby.
Many people like to hold babies. They’re cute and amazing and full of wonder. I don’t know about you, but I’m quite relieved when they start squawking and I can give them back to their mother. When you have a baby, it’s all on you, mama. Constant nurturing, the frustrations, the sleepless nights, the sacrifices. Oy.
Last Dec. 31, my husband and I attended our usual New Year’s gathering. I didn’t verbalize a resolution. However, I had just conceived a new baby. An embryonic idea was floating around in my brain, a tiny miracle with all the right pieces of DNA to come together into a fully developed, healthy project. I told some friends about it, and they nodded and smiled. But they weren’t as excited about it, not attached to it as one can only be about their very own baby.
It was a book. A children’s project that I would write and self-publish. I dared not jinx it with the word, “resolution,” but “resolute” certainly describes my attitude to complete it.
Over the next few months, the idea gestated, taking on its characteristics in my mind, tucked away where nobody could see them. By fall, I was hard at work. I roped in my husband to illustrate and some friends to ensure my content was the best it could be. I used crowd funding to finance the manufacturing.
As with many new moms, the sacrifices are pretty evident, as I dedicated my free moments — and then some — to my demanding little project. My house is a jumble, my kids have self-entertained and I’ve even put on baby weight.
But I also have the pride, the love and the satisfaction of a new mom. The book is done, stacks of it in my family room. But it’s only an acorn planted. We raise our children to send them off in this world; I write my words for others to enjoy.
Reaching a goal is a long-term commitment. It’s a messy process, a learning experience, a hard commitment and nobody is going to dump the end result in your lap.
But you can do it. I did.
Overland Park mom and freelancer Emily Parnell writes weekly.