I have a long history of making New Year’s resolutions. Pretty much all of them have been dictated by the bossy voice in my head that’s convinced I never quite measure up to my best possible self.  They tend to start with the same two words: “I should….”

When my boys were 10, 7 and 3, I was mostly a stay-at-home mom. I was there for my kids and did all the good mom-tasks that needed to be done. But I was stressed. My marriage was strained. Life felt messy. While I was “there” for my kids, I didn’t always feel very “present.”

That’s when I made my favorite New Year’s Resolution: to look each child in the eyes and really listen… and to smile at each one every single day.

Now, to someone who isn’t “in the trenches” of parenthood, this probably sounds ludicrous to set the bar so low. But those who are in the daily grind of raising children might have compassion for how easy it can be to go through day after day of tending, loving and caring for children without actually being fully present.

I loved this resolution because it helped bring to life a piece of me that I longed for: the part that can pause long enough to truly see and hear my children’s words and respond with a smile. A heartfelt smile. Every time I did this, I felt joy. It was a resolution that involved no “should-ing” on myself. I felt happier, more loving and more connected to my favorite people on the planet.

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