Every year, I seem to make the same resolutions: eat more vegetables, drink less wine, do more yoga, save more money. And every year I manage to do about the same in terms of meeting those goals. I think it’s helpful to keep these goals in the back of my mind, a little reminder to put down the donut or that overpriced Madewell t-shirt, but really, I have something much bigger and much simpler on my mind this year. I want to be kinder, to myself, to my kids and to my husband. I want to treat them with more gentleness and more respect. I have always had a bad habit of saving all of my stress, anger and anxiety to unload on those closest to me, probably because I felt secure that they could handle it. But that’s no way to live. I care most about my family, and I want to be the best Erin I can be for them.
I feel really hopeful that there is a growing national movement to promote kindness. I love the 26 Acts of Kindness drive that Ann Curry started, and I found this article incredibly helpful in spelling out how to keep that momentum going in simple ways at home and in the bigger world. I’m brainstorming ways to bring my kids on-board and to make doing kind acts a tangible thing for them, but I also know that all of the “teachable moments” in the world mean so much less than the way that parents model kindness daily for their children. For me, that means truly listening to the kids when they’re home, not half-listening while I text or check email. It means being thankful and appreciative of J when he cooks dinner, bathes the kids or gets them ready for school, and making sure the kids see that gratitude, not the grumbling or complaining about those things he forgets to do. It means being kind to myself, not beating myself up for mistakes I make that lead to growth and experience. Kindness starts at home, and I want my home to be a happy, peaceful space for my kids to learn what they will then take into the world.
I read the book Wonder last year for work and it has stayed with me ever since. There is actually a Choose Kind pledge associated with the book, and a tumblr where readers can send in their own stories of how the book inspired them to make kindness a priority in their own lives. It’s a children’s book, but I feel it’s an important read for everyone, and parents in particular. The main character is a child with an extreme facial abnormality whose parents decide he is ready to enter the mainstream school system. To see how he impacts the lives of everyone he encounters is really moving. I can’t think of a better demonstration of how treating others with kindness and respect can make your own life richer and fuller. I would love to share this with all of you; if anyone would like my signed copy, leave a comment and I’ll send it to you. If more than one of you would like it, I’ll draw a name. It’s not a depressing read; it’s funny and sweet and very touching.
I think this can be an amazing year for us all. I plan to post more regularly about our own “kindness pledge” to help keep myself on track, and I’d love to have you join me. If you are making an effort to bring more kindness into your own home and out into the world, please share your ideas and experiences here or send them to me and I’ll add them to upcoming posts. I’m sure we’d all love more inspiration.
Let’s do this, 2013!
*bottom photo is my best friend and me, welcoming in the new year with a little exercise, fresh air and enthusiasm!