A Dad Gets Realistic With New Year's Resolutions

I Love Me … and My Family
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Before we know it, the 12,000-pound ball will descend over Times Square. Millions of people will kiss and sing “Auld Lang Syne” to kick off a new year, which brings a new set of days — 366 this leap year — to meet our New Year’s resolutions. 

My resolution for the New Year: I’m going to love me. No, I’m not having self-esteem issues. I like myself, even though my pants are getting tighter, my posture isn’t as straight, and flecks of silver are mixing in with my remaining brown hairs.

“If my girls are happy, I’m happy.” I say this all the time, as taking care of my wife, Mattie, my tween daughter, Jessie, and our dog, Sadie, gives me joy. Of course, I’m responsible for my happiness, too … and for taking care of myself. 

A few days ago, I took time to go to the doctor. For the past several months, I’ve woken up with a plugged ear. Usually, it opens up quickly, so I’ve tolerated it. Who has time to go to the doctor? I have a wife, daughter and dog to care for, while trying to squeeze in a writing career.

Apparently, some wax had built up in my left ear. During my appointment the nurse sprayed warm water into my ear as I held a plastic container to catch the water and earwax that flushed out. Later, as I drove home from my ear tune-up, my mind raced with thoughts. Mostly, I thought, “Wow, why didn’t I go to the doctor sooner?” 

As I drove home, I pondered other things I should have done sooner. Before I reached my driveway, I calculated that it had been five months since I played tennis, my outlet for stress and favorite form of exercise. And yes, more comfort foods have snuck into my diet, not just “Two Donut Thursdays.” 

If I’m going to be around to see, enjoy and be part of my family’s happiness, I need to take better care of me. I need to love me, so I can continue to love others. Sometimes I’ll need to say “No,” not only to ice cream and donuts, but also to demands on my time. I must also get more sleep, as I’ve been sacrificing zzz’s in my attempt to steal extra minutes from my nights to pad my days. 

I haven’t completed my list of New Year’s resolutions yet, but here’s a good start:

– Get adequate sleep: 7 hours instead of 6 or less.

– Exercise: Play tennis once a week.

– Make appropriate choices from the basic food groups (but I can’t give up “Two Donut Thursdays” or ice cream as a bedtime snack).


Okay, I didn’t say I’d meet all my resolutions. But I’m going to try to do better, because I love me and I love my family. I drive by a gym daily that has a sign out front that says, “Strive for progress, not perfection.”

In 2016, I’ll schedule my annual physical. Recently, I had a colonoscopy, so I’m OK there for a few years. But whether it’s getting exercise, a physical or a colonoscopy, it’s important to set aside time to care for our bodies … so our bodies can care for (and try to keep up with) our children.

Before the ball drops over Times Square, I’ll walk into Jessie’s bedroom and kiss my sleeping angel on the forehead. Then Mattie and I will probably watch the celebration in New York from bed as we wait for the ball to descend. At midnight, I’ll kiss Mattie and then listen to “Auld Lang Syne” with my wax-free ears. Then I’ll close my eyes and give thanks for another year to be there for my family. 


Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year professional career in banking, accounting and auditing before he became a father at age 44. He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad and writer. Follow Hempfing at facebook.com/patricklhempfing and on Twitter @patrickpempfing.

Categories: Dads, Family, Health, Work-Life