It’s almost 2017, and it’s tempting to make the same old resolutions. Lose weight, take time for yourself, travel more...the list could go on and on.

Instead, many goal-setters are focusing on not a resolution but a word. This single word will give meaning to your year, set your focus and keep your eyes on the prize.

For 2017, my word is present.

I’m not thinking of putting a gift under the tree or showering my loved ones with random trinkets throughout the year (although that’s fun, too). In the upcoming year, I want to strive to be present in all that I do.

As a mother, wife, teacher, writer and grad student, it’s easy to have my attention pulled in a million different directions. The other day, I was checking email on my phone, and my daughter grabbed my hand and asked me to put the phone down. "Be present, mom," she could have said.

This time I was listening.

Being a parent in the 21st century means we are constantly connected. I am an email away from work, much of my grad coursework is online, and the glow of my laptop is always reminding me of deadlines.

When I think about being present, though, I am reminded of the people who are no longer in our lives. Those my family has lost this year; lives of friends and family taken away in a tragic moment. I think about what I would say if I was present for one more moment. I think about the people who need to sense the caring presence of others in their lives. What can I do to make a difference? Simply, I can start by being in the moment in my own home with my family.

That’s not to say that multitasking might not have to be a part of my reality, but unless it’s an emergency, the electronics can be set aside. The social media responses can wait. School work can wait until after she’s tucked in for the night. In way too short of a time, she’ll be going out with her friends, texting (snap chatting or whatever the new thing will be then) with boys, and possibly embarrassed by the ever-presence of her mother.

For now, when she asks, “Will you play with me?,” I will paint that picture, build that Lego tower or write a story with her. I will read her tales of princesses and puppies. I will look into those innocent eyes and know there is nothing else I need to be doing at the moment besides being her mom.

I am in full realization that I will still have work, school and distractions vying for my attentions, but with my word of 2017 in the forefront of my thoughts (and written proudly on display in my office, my classroom and my planner), I will be present for my family and for me.


Jen Schneider is a local middle school teacher and mom to two children.

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