Embracing Change in the New Year

Let’s talk New Year’s Resolutions.   2016 is now here, and most of us are looking forward to a fresh start.  The approach of each new year brings with it a hope of change, a hope of fulfillment, a hope for happiness, and many dreams of what-could-be.  It seems, though, that we are so busy making resolutions that focus on change that we often forget about the things that we want to stay the same.

The posts have already flooding Facebook and Twitter – what we resolve to change about ourselves or our lives in the coming year.   Some of us want to lose weight, save money, find true love, buy a new car or home, find a new job…  The list just goes on and on, and each one is an admirable goal.  After all, we all have things that we need to improve upon or change, and needs that to be met.

I want you to recall your resolutions from last year.  Do you remember what you resolved to do/change/buy, etc.?   How long did that diet last?  Did you manage to start, and continue, saving that money?  Did you get that Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving?  (Admit it, we all make this same shopping resolution every year.)

I had already begun thinking about my New Year Resolutions prior to Christmas – pay off some lingering medical bills; look into buying a new car; and a few other little personal things. I was also thinking about my pending empty nest syndrome happening next fall, and how I could fill my soon-to-be free time.  I had already started praying over how I was going to do all of this.   But, as usual, God has a way of changing my perspective.

This Christmas, I found myself in the hospital for a brief, and very unplanned, stay.  This was not my idea of a good time, and was not on my “to do” list for how-to-spend-my-Christmas-weekend.  But it made me think and see things a little differently.

The night I went to the ER, I was immediately rushed back for an EKG, a CT scan, and an MRI; and my daughter was enthralled.  She was watching all the monitors, asking questions, etc.  When they put in my IV, I couldn’t watch, but Caite said, “Mom, it’s so cool,” with just a little too much enthusiasm for me.

Caite plans to study nursing next fall after finishing high school, and that evening, I could already see her passion for her chosen profession.   I could also see her fear and concern over her Mama, such as not wanting to leave me to use the restroom or get a drink.  The two of us love our “girl time” together, but this wasn’t exactly on our “to do” list for her Christmas break.  Nonetheless, we had the opportunity to talk about how her life will be changing in the coming year: high school graduation, college, and the continual expanding of her world.   We also talked about her own fears that accompany all of these.

She talked about how she worries about me, as I will be “all alone in the house” this fall.  No matter how much I assured her I would be fine and would find some way to survive without her and her brothers, she wasn’t appeased.  Point to ponder: much like we were with our own parents, our kids find it very difficult to imagine that we had a life before they were born.

I am slowly on the mend, and things in my house are just about back to normal – Caite asking when her brothers go back to school (she misses the peace and quiet); the continual laughing and joking between the three of them; and the impromptu jazz performances of my three very musical children (the drums in my little house are very loud, though).

In both the upheaval of my hospital visit and the return to normalcy in my little corner of the world, I was reminded of how my world is changing in the coming year.  My oldest child will finish college and be teaching.  My middle child will finish college and go to graduate school.  And my youngest will graduate high school and leave for college.  Caite’s right – my full house is about to become quiet and not-so-full, and it’s going to be a huge change for me.

As I contemplated these things from my sofa Sunday evening, with both arms propped on pillows and taking really good meds prescribed by the doctor, I began to realize that the money I wanted to save this coming year is going into travel for graduations, college move-ins, caps/gowns for three, and the one very large party I will throw for the three of them.  So the new car, the additional savings, and some other things will likely be put on hold.

As frustrating as this seemed, though, it was also beautiful.  Beautiful because I was reminded of the privilege of being a parent and watching my kids as they chase their dreams.  Beautiful because I get to witness how much they are each accomplishing along their path.  Beautiful because I get to watch how their worlds are continually expanding.  No longer will Caite’s world be centered around her worries over me or how her older brothers are bugging her.  It will become filled with new knowledge, ideas, and wonderment.  It will be filled with new opportunities, new people, and new dreams.  These are the same beautiful changes I have been seeing with her brothers the last few years, and it is truly remarkable.

No longer am I looking forward to a new car or a larger savings account.  Instead, here is my resolution for 2016:  to embrace the wonderment and beauty in my everyday life.  I  will embrace each graduation ceremony for my kids.  I will embrace moving both Coleman and Caitlin to their new college campuses.  I will embrace helping Ron set up his first classroom.  And I will thank God daily for the privilege of seeing them accomplish each of these, and for all the ones yet to come.

There are a few changes, though, that I’m not quite ready to embrace.  So, I will continue to cover the gray in my hair.  I will continue to celebrate anniversaries of my twenty-first birthday.  I will continue to be young at heart or be afraid to act silly or goofy, and I can assure you that I am quite good at both.

I will also not lose sight of who I am, which means that I will continue to chase my own dreams.  If there is one thing I have learned from being a parent, it’s to never stop dreaming.   It’s our dreams that keep us young!

Happy New Year!