Entering The Year Of Me
I’ve never been one for making New Year’s resolutions. I have always felt that if I wanted to set a goal or make a change that I did not need the new year to do so.
I’m not changing that this year, but I am quietly declaring 2018 to be the year of me. It’s been a long time since I’ve really taken a lot of time for myself.
My husband and I got engaged in 2008 and were married in 2009. We started trying to get pregnant in 2011, a journey that took us until the end of 2013. We celebrated the new year in 2014 in the early days of my pregnancy. And then from 2014 through 2017, I was either pregnant or had a very young child depending on me for everything.
Halfway through last year, the tide began to turn. My oldest was in preschool three mornings a week, while the baby was suddenly mobile and more independent. I joined the gym and started to reclaim my body.
Seven months later, I’m down close to 20 pounds and with the help of a dietician, am working to reduce my body fat and maintain my current health.
Working to get back into shape and be healthier after two children has not been without its challenges, but I am so proud of the hard work I’ve put in and the results I have seen. When I started, I set a goal to be in the best shape I could be by the fall of 2018.
Why the fall?
Before I stopped working to raise my daughters, I was a teacher for 8 years. I always intended to go back to work and after our second daughter was born, my husband and I set the fall of 2018 as a goal for my return to the workforce.
When I joined the gym last May, I knew I had about a year and a half before I would hopefully start teaching again. As a working parent, finding time to exercise is going to become a challenge and I wanted to go into a new job in fighting form. I also wanted to be able to fit into all my old work clothes.
I’ve already accomplished the latter goal. I’ve tried on my old work clothes and while I’ll definitely need some updates, I have several basic pieces that will work once I start teaching again.
The idea of returning to work is exciting and terrifying all at once. For the last four years, I’ve been home with my girls. I’ve been able to cater to their every need and still find some time for myself. I’ve always been very focused on self-care. Daily showers are a priority, as is time to read a book every day. Learning to find the time for self-care as a full time parent is a challenge, but what will happen when I am a working parent?
And yet, being a teacher again is exciting. I loved my job. I loved developing exciting lesson plans and interacting with the kids. I loved making history come alive for them. This is, after all, the year of me. And a big piece of the person I am is an educator. The next three months will be stressful as I apply for jobs and hope to land something for the fall, but I will also relish exploring new schools and really looking for a place to set down roots and continue to grow as an educator.
Of course, a job isn’t guaranteed, but I’ve found some opportunities that will allow me to still develop an identity that isn’t solely tied to being a parent.
She’s It has allowed me to develop a voice as a writer, which is something I deeply cherish. I am also writing regular book reviews and becoming a part of various online reader communities. I had been focused on writing a novel during the fall, which fell by the wayside as I got involved in other projects, but one of my 2018 goals is to devote one or two days a week to my work in progress.
Writing has always been a passion of mine and I was fortunate to stumble into some paid writing gigs during my time at home. 2017 helped me to create goals as a writer and I am positive that 2018 will be an even more fruitful year for me creatively.
Family, work and creativity are all important aspects of my life that bring me great happiness. I have also worked to cultivate new relationships, something that I am continuing to focus on this coming year. Through my daughter, I have made several wonderful “mom” friends. A few of us have a date set in January for a night out, which I’m really looking forward to. It’s important to me that I continue to bond with these women.
I also have plans this month to reconnect with both high school and college friends. As important as it is to form new friendships, it’s just as crucial to not let old friendships die out despite distance. I’m looking forward to having a weekend “off” from parenting and traveling to see women that I once spent so much of my time with.
I was deeply unhappy this time last year. I was exhausted from having two young children. I was not taking care of myself physically. I was struggling to connect with new friends.
It’s amazing how much has changed in such a short time. As 2017 progressed, certain goals emerged that became important to me. Now, as I look ahead at 2018, I see what a wonderful opportunity I have to continue a path to real happiness as a parent, spouse, friend, educator and writer.
I certainly still have major goals: continue to get healthier, find a job, be a more patient and loving mother, make inroads with my novel, but I am starting the year in a far better place mentally and emotionally than I did last year.
So, while I did not make any resolutions on January 1st, my overall plan for the year is to continue to figure out what will make me happy and set goals to achieve that along the way.
Happy New Year!