SingaporeMotherhood | Parenting
Smart Mums Prioritise Past Year Retrospections over New Year Resolutions
Everyone asks, “Junia, what are your new year resolutions?” Well, before I begin thinking about next year, I like to look back on the year that’s ending. In fact, I try to get the whole family to do it together. My method is an extension of a game I call Highs, Lows & Oh Yeahs! This is a game we usually play at dinner time where each person shares moments of their day.
A High is the best thing that happened, through that individual’s lenses. Similarly, a Low is the worst thing, and an Oh Yeah! is a eureka moment. Naturally, one person’s account of their highs and lows could be somewhat inane for someone else. So the goal of this exercise is to simply hear what another is expressing. To empathetically listen, not judge, advise, or hijack.
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Responding with “Seriously? But that’s so lame,” is an example of attaching one’s opinions to the share, and not acceptable. “I would have done…” is advice that is likewise unwelcomed. And a hijack is when someone takes over a share by relating their own account of something similar — also disallowed.
This intentional sharing creates a space for each to retrospect and share snippets of their peak, valley, and eureka moments throughout their day. And at the end of a year, it’s also a way to take stock of the past 12 months before looking ahead to the next.
A Mother’s Year in Retrospect through Highs, Lows & Oh Yeahs!
My Highs of 2022
A list of my personal highs this year would include renovating the house, starting a parent-child course, increasing my intuition, developing presence, witnessing abundance of synchronicities, multiple overseas family trips, and reconciling with my husband. That’s too many to discuss in one post, so I’ll zoom in on just one for a deeper share.
I pick ‘present bubbles’ as my high for the year. It is a term I coined to describe the awareness of being in a bubble-like experience. This bubble is transparent so you can observe your surroundings, yet your experience inside the bubble is not shared by anyone outside.
You see, we live in such a fast-paced city that presence is so rare. Yet, tuning in all our senses to soak in the experience of ‘what is’ opens a portal into the NOW. And by honing this skill, we can exponentially expand our existential awareness.
Instead of being distracted all the time, present bubbles are spaces I consciously create to anchor me in the present. First, switch off the many ‘apps’ (different trains of thought) in the background and decide to practise being present. Take deep belly breaths in and out, smile, and start observing!
When my order of roti prata arrived, I allowed my eyes to take in the thick, fluffy, slightly charred square. The puddle of oil in a hollow was so noticeable, I smiled. I continued beaming, present to each crunch I heard as I split the crispy prata with my fork and spoon. Bringing a piece to my nostrils, I closed my eyes and inhaled its fragrant aroma. Biting into the fluffy, eggy, crispy piece, I savoured each delectable morsel with slow, intentional crunches.
“Best prata ever! We must come back here,” I raved.
My husband smiled and asked, “You do know why it’s that crispy, ya?”
“It’s swimming in oil!”
“Oh, worth it,” I grinned.
I share this recent dining experience because most of my meals are swallowed without really tasting the food. Yes, there is that initial first mouthful that I use to size up the flavours, yet the rest of the meal is rarely savoured.
Present Bubbles, Expanded
Reminding myself to intentionally slow down to enjoy the moment immediately teleports me into a different world. I find myself in a present bubble of sheer bliss. While my surroundings remain unchanged, the entire atmosphere inside my transparent bubble is different. It’s as if time slows down inside my present bubble as it radiates a calm, a joy, pure delight.
Many of us experience this phenomenon when we fall in love — our eyes connect and the rest of the world fades into oblivion. And as mums, most of us feel it just watching our newborn sleep. These are present bubbles we share with someone else, in moments which may last for just seconds or blissfully, longer.
Her small right hand in my left, we walked down across the road to McDonald’s. The restaurant was packed but I spied a table for us both and she happily skipped to chope our seats, while I ordered our breakfast. Our eyes locked as I navigated through the crowd towards her. I sat down next to her, and our present bubble continued.
We ate in a state of joy. Then I began noticing people at surrounding tables turning to look at us. The love we radiated was just so powerful and present. Some smiled, others gave a thumbs up, yet others lengthened their glances to gazes.
This experience happened over four years ago, yet my daughter and I still vividly remember it. Not only because it was so profound, but it is also the longest bubble I have ever created with another.
Try it. It could start off as a few seconds, while you are alone. Stretch it, to connect with another for longer. In these blissful moments, nothing else matters. In this bubble of awareness, even uncomfortable emotions become a gift in themselves.
My Lows of 2022
Lows refer to that bottom-most experience. The yuckiest, most disappointing let down in a day. Our lows reveal sad emotions we’d rather hide, insecurities we wished we didn’t have, the ugly sides we are ashamed of.
But it’s important to share these too because it keeps us connected to our humanity. It reminds us that while we wished everything was brightness and gaiety, there are struggles we have yet to overcome.
My lows for 2022? Harsh fights with my husband, scolding episodes with my children, not achieving the million dollars I set out to earn, being bitten by our dog — just to name a few.
If I were to pick one, it would be the period of incessant fighting with my husband. While I pretended that I did not care and everything was fine on the outside, it weighed on my mind and heart. My internal conversations were so damning, critical, and righteous that some of it spilled out of my mouth.
I experienced my ugliest — intense, vituperative outbursts of anger. No one was safe from me, not even myself. While I was in that headspace, sadness was such a familiar emotion. And while it was expressed as anger, I refused to take action towards reconciliation. I was so stuck in that rut. Fortunately for me…
(See also: Do you have Parental Burnout?)
My Oh Yeah! of 2022
An Oh Yeah! is a special lesson learnt. It may or may not be related to one’s highs or lows. They are the light-bulb moments where something clicks, and you smile a knowing smile. They happen when you make a powerful mental connection for yourself and now understand something you did not before.
This is normally the hardest one because most of us go through life repeating automatic habits; rarely do we process profound lessons. You know you have an Oh Yeah! when your eyes light up and you do a small shoulder dance that ends with a thumbs up.
My greatest Oh Yeah! moment this year happened during family constellation group therapy sessions. Strangers stood in as representations with amazing accuracy to dissolve unconscious patterns for immediate breakthroughs in money, relationship, and career issues.
Even as an observer, something was different the next morning. I experienced love for my husband. The same unwashed clothes that would have made me roll my eyes no longer triggered me. My usual disgusted “late again” remark no longer taunted him as he rushed off to work.
It came as a surprise for both of us. It seemed like the energy had miraculously shifted just because I applied family constellations to our relationship. I was dumbfounded at the simplicity and effectiveness of quantum science. There was no need to reframe my thoughts, practise positive thinking, or meditate. I was in the actual presence of love for my spouse. Astounding!
So Before You Make Those New Year Resolutions…
As 2022 comes to a close, share your Highs, Lows and Oh Yeahs! — at gatherings, with family, or journal it yourself. Even better, make it a new family ritual at mealtimes to check on everyone’s day. It truly connects.
As for your new year resolutions, why not start creating present bubbles? These transparent bubbles are a time capsule for those profound connecting moments. How many pretty baubles will you have to hang on your Christmas tree next year?
Finally, let’s show our children how to create their own present bubbles too. Because what better gift is there to start the new year with than the experiential presence of life?
(See also: Easy Christmas Crafts to Do with Your Kids)
Author of “The Naked Parent”, founder of Mum Space, and mother to five amazing children, Junia is a respected thought-leader in the parenting space. Recognised for empowering parents and kids with her 21st-century parenting model for over a decade, she now brings her ‘Modern Asian Mother’ expertise and experience to this exclusive SingaporeMotherhood column.
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