I Love Me … and My Family


Before we know it, the nearly 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 that brings 366 days to meet our New Year’s resolutions.

My resolution for the New Year is that 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 ears. The nurse sprayed warm water into them as I held a plastic container to catch the water and ear wax that flushed out. The nurse asked me, “Are you okay?”  I responded, “Yeah, as long as I don’t see water coming out of my right ear when you’re spraying it into my left one.”            

As I drove home from my ear tune-up, my mind raced with thoughts. With my wax-free ears, I wouldn’t need to tell Mattie or Jessie to “please turn up the TV” as often. Yet, maybe, due to Jessie talking excessively, which happens on occasion, and Sadie barking loudly, which happens frequently, I might miss my ear wax. I felt confident that I’d still have “selective hearing” (it’s a husband thing). But 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 myself. 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:  Adequate sleep – seven hours instead of six or less. Exercise – tennis once a week. 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. A gym I drive by daily has a sign out front that says “Strive for progress, not perfection.”

In 2016, I’ll schedule my annual physical. Whether it’s getting exercise or a physical, 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 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.

Remember to cherish the moments. Happy New Year!  

Patrick Hempfing
About Patrick Hempfing

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.

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