New Eyes for the New Year

    I love the holidays until they are upon us and then they stress me out and I wind up wishing that they were over.

    The end of the year seems to do that to many of us who have taken up juggling as a hobby or necessary evil. The idea of a “perfect holiday” gets in the way of actually having a perfect holiday. We stress that all the gifts on the Christmas list are purchased, we want to make sure cookies are baked and decorated, the house needs to look like a Better Homes & Garden spread and then there is the ever growing list of holiday must-dos: Sesame Place? Light display? Rockefeller’s Centers tree?

    It becomes a mission to just get everywhere. And then the holiday is here and we collapse exhausted while our kids beg us to play with them and their new toys.

    In 2014, my list of must-dos grew because my oldest is nearly 4 so she can do and remember more now. And then she got sick, not in a scary sick way, but in the stay at home for four days and then take it easy for a few weeks after way. So, any activity that required spending a lot of time outdoors was out. And it meant that we spent more time at home and did things at her pace, not mine.

    That meant a lot – and I mean A LOT- of pretending. Her mind is an amazing place, where princesses, elephants and dinosaurs all live together. It creates entire songs about how “you can do whatever you want and be whatever you want to be.” It writes whole puppet shows that may or may not follow some sort of linear order.

    And we got to talk. We talked about what she likes to do and what she thinks I do all day. Some of it good: “Mommy works at town hall and helps people.” Some not so good: “Oh! You never have time to play me with,” and always used in the moment when I make dinner and breastfeed her sister at the same time. Sometimes, I was lucky enough to get: “Mommy you’re the best mom I could want” and, somehow, those came at moments when she knew I needed a pick-me-up. But, seeing the world through her eyes is an amazing gift — one that is easy to overlook while we run from place to place trying to make it through our to-do lists.

    The picture above is another great example of what happens when we take some time to listen to our girls. My friend’s 5 year old insisted on making not just Gingerbread woman but a Gingerbread Mayor and a Mommy Mayor to boot. First off, that’s just awesome – a little girl who sees no barriers and only possibility is a wonderful thing. But, more importantly, that awesome moment didn’t come from something on a list that you can check off (ok, bake cookies might have made that list), it came from one of those little moments. It came when a mom asked her daughter for her input and something great came out.

    So, in the coming year I’m going to try to look through my kids’ eyes more often and I’m going to ask them more questions. I’m guessing I’ll see a lot fewer barriers, a few flying unicorns and maybe it will even help me to lighten up on myself.

    I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday, a stress-free winter break and a Happy, Healthy, Safe New Year!





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    Cathleen Lewis
    Cathleen, the Mayor of Lawrence Township & a full-time Public Affairs professional, counts her best job as being Mommy to Abigail (3 years) and Bridget (6 months ). A New Yorker originally, but Boston raised, Cathleen enjoys the challenge of raising the girls in a mixed household with her Yankee-fan husband Paul. She hopes to make up for the confusion by encouraging the family’s love of Rutgers football. She dreams of sharing her love of beaches, margaritas, music and adventure but is happy to squeeze in a family walk with the dog and a back yard BBQ these days. Formerly an avid reader and writer before work, life and children; Cathleen hopes she hasn’t lost her ability to capture thoughts through the written word but often can’t remember where the grocery list is.

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