My family always looks forward to the New Year – we enjoy the gatherings with our larger extended family and friends, the celebratory holiday spirit, and the renewal of love between my husband and me.
We also have a tradition in my immediate family – our children, my husband, and I will declare our personal resolutions to each other, and conscientiously work toward becoming better versions of ourselves throughout the year. In fact, our family takes resolutions so seriously, we even have a penalty and rewards system!
Unknown to the rest of my loved ones, I actually dislike making resolutions. As long as I could remember, I could never keep any that I had made. Sometimes, they were too far-fetched: At age 13, I wanted to be a singer-supermodel-actress and travel the world, but 23 years later, I am now a #bodyproud and happy career mum-of- two.
Other times, my resolutions were achievable, but I was just unable to keep them. For example, two years ago, I resolved to declutter my wardrobe. All I did was just to re-organise my mountain of clothes… by buying another wardrobe. Throughout my 36 years of making resolutions, all I did was to make excuses for my failure to keep them.
Somehow, my husband and children always manage to keep theirs. Last year, my husband Sam* decided that his resolution was to help me keep mine. Talk about pressure! So I decided to keep things simple and made just one: To stick to an exercise regime to lose the weight I gained after having had my second child. Sam agreed wholeheartedly, as he had had enough of me whining about how my clothes had become smaller, so I had to buy new, bigger-sized ones, which led to more clothes… you get the idea!
For the first few months, all went well. I signed up for the same gym as Sam did, and as he was a fitness fanatic, he schooled me about everything from “reps” and “HIIT” to “#bodygoals”. He was so sweet, he even attended Zumba classes with me, even though his best move was the ‘Running Man’. I felt great, it brought us closer together, and I even dropped two dress sizes in three months!
Then, Sam had to go on a six-month overseas posting, and I was left to my own devices (really, the gym machines still felt like alien technology to me). That was when it happened: The lying, the deceit, and the cheating!
I started skipping going to the gym, justifying that I had more important tasks like spending quality time with the kids and having to work overtime. I skipped Zumba classes, thinking that I could exercise at home. I even developed a daily love affair with chocolate chip cookies, because I felt it was my right to have cheat days! Every day, I gave assurances to Sam that I was keeping to my resolution. My kids suspected otherwise, but I bribed them with toys and sweets just to stop them from nagging and telling on me.
Even when Sam came back home, I kept up appearances. Afraid that I would get found out, I took desperate measures. I bought shapewear to hide my figure, came up with even more excuses to miss gym sessions, saying it was “that day of the month”, and I even lied that it was the hormone cortisol, caused by work stress, that led to my weight gain (I looked up weight gain-causing reasons online). I figured that Sam was too tired and stressed to notice my weight gain – he had a lot of work to finish even after his posting – and I managed to hoodwink him.
Three weeks ago, the judgment came…
During dinner one night, we decided as a family whether we would receive rewards or penalties for our own resolutions. My kids got the toys they wanted for having kept their rooms neat, but before I could speak up on my own, Sam turned to me and said: “Guess I would have to bring the family on a holiday since I couldn’t hold on to my resolution. I’m sorry, dear, for being away and unable to support you for so long because of work.”
My face went red, I started crying, and Sam and the kids spent the rest of dinner fretting and trying to comfort me.
I suspect Sam and the kids knew I had failed to keep my resolution, but because of how much they loved me (or because they were just afraid of the sight of a sobbing mess of a mum), they pretended to forget about my resolution and never spoke of it since; but I have not…
This year, I have two resolutions: One, to never make a resolution that I can never keep. Second, and more importantly, to never make my loved ones feel sad or guilty because of my own selfish thoughts and actions.
*Name changed to protect privacy.
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