I’m not sure if I’m a few weeks early, or 11 months late, but lately I’ve been carrying out a New Year’s resolution: to be a more patient, engaged mother. It actually started in mid-November on the Friday afternoon when I ditched work after our nanny called in sick. I found when I slowed down and committed my attention more fully to my children, we were all happier campers. It helps that John and Daphne recently had a leap in maturity level—now, when I take all three kids to a playground or pool by myself, I am not run ragged and my blood pressure doesn’t soar. And the three kids have become more simpatico recently, playing school or house together nicely.
Now that the holidays are upon us, I’ve taken my mommy-method a step further: I’m vowing to be less of a Scrooge this year. No more Sarah Bah-humbug Shea. Like yesterday: On my long run, I decided I’d bake a few batches of holiday cookies and invite one of Phoebe’s friends over to help decorate them with my gang. This evening, I’m taking the kids out to look at Christmas lights, and we have plans to watch Portland’s Christmas Ship Parade on the Willamette. I’ve already got our wreath hung, and the tree goes up soon. Opening up an Advent calendar window is an evening ritual. (But turns out I’m not going full-throttle enough: The other day in the van, I turned the radio to a station that plays only holiday songs. Phoebe piped up, “Why are you listening to this—you’re not festive.” Ha, ha, ho, ho!)
Overall, in my new mommy-mode, I find all of us are in better spirits and the kids have fewer flare-ups and meltdowns. I realize I’m not going to become Donna Reed overnight, but I’m aiming to be a phrase a British physician coined in 1953—a “good enough mother.” I don’t have to be perfect, just caring, alert, and reliable. I think that’s the best gift I can give to my kids—no bows or gift wrap required.