Permanent Voids

Processing pain is an ever changing landscape.   Everyone is different.  Some of us filter it through jokes and odd humor.  Others of us mask it in anger and rage, lashing out unintentionally at those closest to us.  A lot of it is affected by how the pain was inflicted.  Physical pain is vastly different than emotional or even mental distress.

In the last 18 months I will have lost 5 grandparents.  I am not even sure how to process the number, let alone the intricacies of each person.

What makes it the hardest to process is the utter lack of relationship with all but one of them.  While my husband has fond memories of playing with his grandparents, I do not.  I know many people who can’t wait to go to “nana’s” house for Easter or Christmas.  They get cards in the mail, phone calls on the weekends, or trips to their house for no reason at all.  Even as an adult, these tokens of love and deep relationships continue.

These are not the types of grandparents I inherited.

Instead I inherited grandparents that haven’t spoken to me in over 12 years.  I inherited grandparents that didn’t even speak to their own children for the last 12 years.  I inherited grandparents that when they did speak to their children, words that no mother or father should even utter aloud, were spoken into their ears.

How do I process the pain of the absence of a void?  Because that is exactly what I have now.  An absence that will never be filled. A permanent void.  What do I do with the realization that these people who didn’t cared about me, didn’t cared about their own children, will never again have the chance to tell me they care?  That lingering hope of a relationship is forever lost.  That tiny speck of waiting for them to decide to include in me in their lives is forever unattainable.

Even still, how do I sift through the pain and grief of knowing there are others out there that did have a relationship with them?  What did they have that I didn’t that made them worthy of what should have been mine as well?  I feel as though it is unallowable for me to be angry at people that they love.  And yet, I know this to be untrue.  These people choose to ignore me, cast me out and turn their backs on myself and my family.  The fact that they choose to not do so with others does not cancel out the real pain and longing they created in my life.

I find myself sobbing over the broken relationships scattered throughout my family.  Parents and children pitted against each.  Children’s hearts hardened by bitter and cruel parents.  Grandchildren being kept away from grandparents.  Grandparents ignoring grandchildren.  Families scattered across the country with no attempts made to keep contact alive. How did it all come to this?  How did these relationships get so far broken that they became forever severed?  And why did God choose this brokenness for me?  Why did He choose to put a deep longing for big family in my heart and the set me down in so much turmoil?

For now all I can do is make peace with the fact that I could have done nothing to change the status of our relationships.  They made their choices and what’s done is done.  What is left for me now is to live my life in a way that is worthy of the one grandfather who did love me and cared about me.  It is time for me to live my life in such a way that I leave a legacy of grandparents behind for my own children.  I can move through my pain, acknowledge it, and have it grow me.  I will allow it to teach me a valuable lesson: that all relationships are sacred and worth holding onto.  I must choose love over prejudice and selfishness.  I must be willing to set aside my bruised ego and pride and understand that a lot of relational pain comes from my own unspoken and unrealistic expectations of others.

For the cycle of brokenness to stop, it has to start with me.

Advertisements

Obsessing Over Something More Worthwhile/ Daily Prompt: Viral

Daily Prompt: Viral

 

I have been living under a rock when it comes to main stream media for the last three years because we chose to not install cable or satellite for the TV.   But one person that even I know exists is Justin Bieber.  Now, I am not going to get into any discussion as to whether or not his fame is warranted or not, because I frankly don’t care.  I am concerned however with the level of obsession that our girls seem to go to over males in our media.  (I would comment on the males obsessing over the girls, but since I am not of that gender, I didn’t think it would make much sense.)  Our media has seen fit to plaster a face onto any product to make it more marketable which is fueling our ability to obsess over others, creating idols.  I do not think this is a healthy habit and I fear the repercussions this could have on our society, and if we aren’t experiencing them already.

We need to be teaching our daughters to be in awe of and have a deep respect for the hard-working men in her life, not the teeny bopper boys that simply look cute on camera and blow their money on clothes and partying.  That is not a person to be obsessed over and looked up to.  It may seem like a simple thing, and at some point in our culture it was.  It was a called having a crush, like when Elvis or the Beatles were popular.  The girls went absolutely bonkers over them, but those men were actually talented and created real art.  Our culture is different now.  Someone can become famous in 15 minutes and suddenly their face is plastered all over everything and every girl has to have it all.  Their fame is no longer based on talent, it is based on how they dress, what they look like, what products have their face on them, how many CD’s they can churn out in a few years, etc.  Of all the young boys in the media scene today, why is Justin Bieber the only one who is famous?  The answer is simple: because main stream media said so.  Now I am not saying that he is untalented, and I am not saying what he does is easy.  What I am saying however, is that what Justin Bieber does for a living IS NOT more worthy than what fire fighters, police officers, surgeons, EMT’s,  truck drivers, plumbers, electricians, etc. do for a living every single day.

A good friend of mines husband is an EMT, I would hope that her daughters would think their father is WAY more worth being in awe of than Justin Bieber.  The men who go out in the freezing cold to fix the power lines for six days straight so you can  have power deserves a front page plaster on the evening news more than Justin Bieber’s latest concert shenanigans.   The men who die protecting your cities every day deserve a line of lunch boxes and back-packs more than Justin Bieber does.

Suffice it to say that this is what I want to teach my daughter:

The only person I want my daughter to be more in awe of than her brother — is her grandfather.

The only person I want my daughter looking up to more than her grandfather — is her father.

The only person I want her to have more respect for than her father — is her husband.

The only person I want her to be more obsessed with than her husband — is Jesus.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/daily-prompt-first/

 

Whose to Blame: the Schools or the Parents?

Every time there is a tragedy of epic proportions, the finger-pointing begins. Actually that isn’t exactly accurate, anytime there is a tragedy of any proportion, the finger-pointing begins. This habit of ours is not even all that new. It has been around since the beginning of man, it is our base nature to not want to admit the error of our own choices.

God asks Adam in Genesis 3:11 “…Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
This is the reply of the humans:
Genesis 3:12-14
“The man said, “The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it.”
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
In both instances neither man nor woman owns up to their choice to eat what was forbidden of them to eat.

The second act of sin we are shown was also finger-pointing. (The first being disobedience of the Lord’s Commands). This trend continues with Adam and Eve’s children: Cain and Abel. A brief back history of the sons is this: Cain tended the plants and crops of the land and Abel tended the animals. In this very early time of our world, it was very customary to show our thanks to God by giving back, in sacrificial burnings usually, the choicest portions of the “fruits” of the their labor. It was a sign of thanks, respect, reverence, etc. Cain choose to give just any old thing he found lying around the orchards and fields while Abel gave the very best fattest portions of the flocks. God was not pleased with this and did not look upon Cain with favor, and Cain was angry at the Lord.
There is not direct ask and answer section that point-blank states that Cain blamed Abel for this problems, instead we are shown Cain’s actions. Did Cain change his behavior and bring the choicest portion of harvest? No, he instead deceived his brother and murdered him in cold blood. (Genesis 4:6-8) It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Cain blamed his brother for his problems and thus, chose to eliminate him.

I use these two references for many, many reasons, but it is not hard to see why. These two instances of sin in our world have followed mankind throughout its history, never more apparent than now.
Our headlines are riddled with sad stories of person after person after person stamping out the life of another in horrendous ways. In every instance there is always our desperate need to know “why” and nine times out of ten, the answer is always that someone else did or didn’t do something they should or should not have done. The main instances we can see this behavior is when someone, regardless of their age, decides to open fire on a school or mass institute full of helpless people (hospital). The main topic discussion eventually turns to questions of whether or not the parents or the education system in to blame for this persons error in logical thinking.
For myself and myself only this is my answer. The person choosing to commit mass homicide is the ONLY one responsible for the murders. End of story. I do not care at all what horrors they encountered as a child, and I don’t care if this makes me appear heartless. I did not say that I have no sympathy for their trials and horrors, I merely do not believe that they can make any allowable excuses for that person. We are all responsible for our own choices, it is as simple as that.

Now, as much as I hate the finger-pointing games we play, I thought I would turn the publics antics and use them against them with some simple straight forward numbers and let the chips fall where they may.
Let us begin.
Assuming that average two parent family is earning two incomes.
Every calendar year contains: 365 days.
Weekend Days: 104
Government Recognized Holidays: 10
Average # of days a child will be in the care of a parent: 114
Average # of days a child will be in the care of a “stranger”: 251
The average child starts going to day-care around age two, so that gives them 3 years of daycare before they start government mandated “public education”.
The average child starts changing classrooms for each subject in 6th grade with the average of 6 subjects per day.
Over the course of a child’s life from 2-18 the number of “strangers” caring for, educating, molding, mentoring and shaping the average American child is: 46

Now I don’t know about you, but that is simply unacceptable to me to think that 46 people I know next to nothing about are spending over 9 hours a day for 251 days of the year molding, shaping, mentoring, and guiding our children. And starting in the 6th grade, those strangers spend less than one hour at a time with 35-45 children all grappling for attention. Less than one hour is not anywhere near enough to teach our children the life skills they desperately need to function in life, especially if that isn’t even one-on-one attention. And at the age in which an individuals hormones are raging out of control and normal, structured, mature thinking is very challenging; this is the age in which we start bouncing them from one teacher to another. That is simply illogical.

I realize that homeschooling simply isn’t an option for some families, and honestly is not a decision to be taken lightly at all. And I am in no way saying that it is our only option to solving our problems, because it most certainly isn’t. But when one starts to really look at the numbers, it makes all that finger-pointing a little bit more complicated. If a parent spends less than half of a child’s life mentoring to them and spending time with them, is it not entirely possible that the school system truly is to blame for our craziness? It makes it a lot harder to “blame the parents” for the faulty thinking of an individual.

But I circle back to the beginning of this entire discussion and remind you of my original belief — we are all responsible for our OWN choices. For our society to adapt, change, grow, develop for the better and shape our future generations, the answer is not in how many days a child spends with who. It all comes down to what we are ALL teaching our children. For our society to see a positive change, there must be a change in us and our ways of thinking. Finger pointing needs to disappear, completely. A criminal should not be able to bring a suit against the liquor store that sold him the alcohol after he got in a deadly car accident while drinking and driving. Yet our judicial system allows this type of nonsense on a daily basis.

It is our base human nature to blame others for our faults, no one teaches us this habit. But we do in-grain and promote this habit when we allow it to flourish. My children have never hesitated to say, “But my sister…..” or “He started it.” I have never taught them that this is allowable, and yet in that moment when guilt settles on their shoulders, their natural overwhelming desire is to get out from under that weight. We must begin now to teach our children that blame is never allowed and absolutely nothing anyone does to them gives them any rights at all to bring harm to another human being. This needs to be reinforced with the understanding that we will very much feel like causing others harm, but that is entirely different from having any right to do so.

Exploring “Nature vs. Nurture”

As an adopted child, the age-old scientific argument of nature versus nurture has always fascinated me on a deep level. Seeing that I do not contain any matching DNA to my mother and father, there are some things in life that I simply never got to experience. I never had anyone think that my mother was my older sister because we looked identical. Even if I wasn’t an only child, I would not have had any mistaken identities with my siblings due to similarities. I did not get to look through photo albums of my parents and say, “Oh my gosh, I look just like you did when you were…..” There wasn’t the opportunity to ask, “Did you do that weird whatever when you were a kid too?” I don’t think people realize how these connections make up a person’s life and sense of belonging, most take them for granted or are even annoyed by them. It wasn’t until I had my own children was I able to enjoy looking at pictures of my daughter and say “Awwww! She looks exactly like me!”

But it goes beyond physical looks. Obviously our DNA makes the blueprint for our features. The color and texture of our hair, shape of our eyes, whether or not the tip of our nose points up or down, the shape of the swirls inside our ears. The list goes on almost without end as to the what our DNA is in control of. How much stomach acid I produce compared to you, the shape of my big toe, the weird way the little pinky one slides to the side, the hair on my knuckles, whether or not I snore, the size of my teeth, the size fork I prefer to eat with, the side of the bed I have to sleep on, whether or not I can stand things between my toes, whether or not I like the feeling of silk……

The argument in nature vs. nurture is: how much of our DNA is responsible for WHO we are and how much is of the life we lived as a child responsible for WHO we are? How do we know where one of those begins and the other ends? Since I am adopted I have no “nature” to compare and contrast with, I only have “nurture”. At most, my nature would be what ever I have that my parents lack or what I lack that my parents have. One could assume that since neither of my parents can even draw a decent stick figure, that my artistic ability must be a nature, because they could not nurture what they do not have themselves. However, one could also argue that had my mother not been extremely creative and crafty, my ability to draw and create would not have blossomed, it would instead have laid dormant. One could also assume that my ability to understand mechanics better than your average female could very well have been nurture given that my father has been a grease monkey since he was 12, so I naturally picked up on this ability throughout the years. However, there are many a child whose parent excels in something and despite constant interaction and contact with said subject, the child themselves never acquires an aptitude for it.

Delving into the quirky in our home I bring to you my proof that science will never discover which is more important, because they are both equally and inexplicably intertwined and combined to the point that you cannot tell where one ends and the other begins. My two children have shown me that DNA combinations are infinite (duh) and at the same time finite. Sometimes you can pinpoint exact what DNA has done.

Now I know given what the internet is these days that anyone reading this has seen those adorable pictures of sleeping infants next to their sleeping parent and both are in identical positions. So it stands to reason that the kid got it from somewhere right? We all know that the 3 month old that cannot even sit itself up did not climb out of his crib in the middle of the night crawl into mommy and daddy’s room, observe how they were sleeping, crawled back into their own crib and proceeded to duplicate said pose. So, it stands to reason that the position we prefer to sleep in is programmed into our DNA. Knowing this, it would stand to reason that SO much more about our sleeping habits are not our choice in the slightest.

For example, my husband and I are such polar opposites in sleeping habits that the two of us CANNOT share a blanket/comforter. We simply cannot do it, never have and never will. My entire life I have hated blankets, I cannot stand them, do not like them Sam I am. If for some reason I am under a blanket before falling asleep, I guarantee you it will be on the floor by the time I wake up. And heaven forbid it should get anywhere near my face and neck, especially if it is a heavy blanket. I absolutely cannot stand a blanket above my shoulders, I swear I will suffocate to death. And I have this weird thing with my pillow that I know is weird, because I have only ever hear of one other person my entire life that does this too. I must have the “cold side up”.

My husband on the other hand has this thing I call the ‘blanket of death’ that his brother bought for him. I swear his brother went to Canada and found the biggest effing bear and the biggest effing moose he could find, shoot them and made this blanket with their fur. It is HEAVY as hell and he will sleep under it no matter the season. Does not matter if it is 110 outside or 20. He will burrow under this thing and sweat to death, he must have the weight of it on him or he cannot sleep. It is all I can do to put up with it next to me in bed. And he has to have another smaller blanket waded up lengthwise behind him to “prop” himself on as he sleeps, he cannot sleep flat on his back.

I now present Exhibit A: my son. My darling, affectionate, silly son. From day one my son HAD to be swaddled, the tighter the better. He would scream his foul little head off that blanket came loose even the tiniest bit. And you guessed it, he had to be propped up on some sort of pillow or stuffed animal, he would not sleep flat on his back. Even now, at 7 he has this heavy blanket he has to have all year-long. Grandma made it for him out of his daddy’s old jeans and some fleece. For a little kid, this blanket is pretty heavy. He has to have it all year-long, and the fuzzy side has to be touching him. And his bed is pushed up against the wall with an army of stuffies at his back while he sleeps, propping him up.

That being said, I present Exhibit B: my daughter. My adorable, lovely, weird daughter. From the time we brought her home, she made it very clear that she wanted nothing to do with that thing called a blanket that we kept trying to cover her up with. As soon as she was able, those little feet went to kicking and that blanket was sailing across the crib. She will go to sleep with a light blanket on, and wake up with it halfway across the room. If I can manage to convince her sleep with one, she usually has to have her feet sticking out of the bottom and her arms tucked outside over the top.
And then when she was almost four she completely sealed her fate forever as “my daughter” when she informed daddy that she had to flip her pillow over before she could go to sleep. He asked her why and she told him with a perfectly straight face, “Because I have to have the cold side up.”

Now these are obviously not things that we teach our children. So if our DNA is responsible for not only the color of our eyes, but the acceptable heaviness of a blanket and the proper temperature of a pillowcase; how much more is it in control of? Where does the nature end and the nurture begin?

The Measure of a Man

Thinking about the life I live today and realizing how blessed I am. I have two beautiful children, a patient God-loving husband, a home to call my own, food in my fridge, shoes on my feet, a warm bed to sleep in, and hot water to shower with. Now on the surface all that seems pretty ordinary. But for my life, it is spectacular in a very special way.
My children are miracles, my son especially so.
My patient God-loving husband puts up with all my special eccentricities.
My home was purchased without a dime in the bank, something that is almost unheard of these days. My home is just large enough to share with another family if the need arises.
The food in my fridge doesn’t just fill my belly, it keeps me healthy because it’s Gluten Free. Something extra hard to do on a tight budget.
The shoes on my feet are worth two weeks of gas for my husband to get to work, but the sacrifice was made because they allow me to care for my home with 1/2 the debilitating pain I would normally experience. Those are some special shoes.
My warm bed isn’t just any old mattress like we used to have. We purchased a special memory foam mattress so that I can sleep through the night without the aid of drugs that make it very difficult to rise and care for my children in the morning.
The hot water in my shower is extra special to me as well, because at the end of the day when I can barely stand any longer, the hot water penetrates deeper than my heating pad to gives me more relief.
And all of this on one small income — his.

All of these things would not be possible without the sacrifices of the man who tucks himself into bed beside me each and every night. Not only does he sacrifice so that I can have these things, he does so with joy. That is the measure of a man.
A man who is willing to set aside the things he wants so that his children can have what they need. A man who is willing to survive on one income so that the dream his wife has of staying home with the children can be a reality. These are the things that matter at the end of the day. A man who sets aside his wants and most importantly his PRIDE to support his family is worth more than all the gold in the world.
Not to long ago my husband was laid off and had no job lined up at the time. Luckily a temporary job came through in about two weeks time and my husband was able to bring in an income again. This job was a 6 month contract that was to end with the prospect of being permanent should both parties agree. This wasn’t a “maybe” permanent, it was a genuine permanent position. To top it all off, it was in a new field my husband wanted to try his hand at and it included free health insurance. It seemed like the perfect job. It was all except for one small problem that soon warped into a bigger problem….the boss.
This guy was a slime ball. He was rude, unethical and dishonest. He insulted employees and clients behind their backs, insinuating a major lack of intelligence, ran programs with illegal product codes, the works. To say the least, he was not an easy guys to work with for normal people. But my loving husband isn’t normal — he is a duck. Now most of you probably know exactly what that means the moment you read it, but for those who don’t, let me enlighten you. It means that everything rolls of his back like water off a duck. Nothing bothers him, and I mean nothing. He is so tolerant and patient that some days it drives me crazy. Which should tell you a lot about me at the same time.
So for a man like my husband to hate this job because of this man is a big deal. He could have chosen to walk away, he could have chosen to quit, to decide that he wasn’t going to be treated this way any longer, or watch this man treat anyone else this way. I know a few men who have had this mentality. They could not put their pride aside for the sake of the wife and children waiting at home and the food he would put on the table. My husband took a different stand and choose to stay and finish his 6 month commitment.
It all comes down to sacrifices. Things may look very different in your home than they do in mine. But at the end of the day, rich or poor, sick or healthy, struggling or not, it’s the sacrifices he makes that define him. The things he gives and does for others, expecting nothing in return. That is the measure of a man.

Riding the Waves of Change

Tomorrow should be an interesting day, hopefully it is also a positive one. 

Tomorrow I will start the bumpy road of repairing a friendship while in the wake of a destroyed one.  Two relationships back to back have been dashed against the rocks, but it looks as if one may rise from the wreckage.

I can only pray that the pain I suffered in both instances have taught me enough that this beautiful second chance, that many don’t get, can be used to its fullest. 

With my emotions attempting to run away with me, I look back on the year of my life and forward into the next year.

 My husband has been forced to change jobs twice and is now returning to the company that laid him off in the first place, making for three total job changes in less than 12 months.  That also means three pay grade changes and lots of fudging and tweaking to the budget.  Needless to say, we have experienced a lot of different levels of “broke”. 

My son has had four ear surgeries to rebuild the ear he wasn’t born with.  Holy cow that was intense.  His first surgery involved removing a piece of rib cartilage and inserting it under the skin on his skull for the rest of his ear to be built on.  Watching him wake up from that first surgery was pure torture as he screamed in pain not understanding in the slightest what had been done to him.  Thank GOD he rebounded super fast and within 48 hours was home and off pain meds.

My father has retired and my parents are selling their house to buy a house boat.

I joined the lead staff of children’s church.

A new youth pastor and then no youth pastor inside of 9 months….wow!! THAT was one crazy ride that I do not wish to repeat. 

One friend and I had a huge blow up over birthday party shenanigans and we each vowed an end to our relationship.  (Said friend is my breakfast date tomorrow)

Ran into friend a few times and we recognized the deep desire to reach out to one another. 

One friend at church just moved away last weekend.

One friend, her husband and son moved in with us even though all we had to offer was a crazy big living room.

Said friend moved out last weekend and was quote, “Taking her friendship with her” when she left and rejecting everything my family ever did for her in the span of the last three years. That was a painful experience I pray I never have to relive again.

AND NOW….the company my husband rehired with…that job he accepted was in Wilmington, Ohio.  So now on top of all these failing friendships and fractured relationships, I will be packing up and shipping off to Ohio.  The next three to four months will involve lots of cleaning, packing, yard sales, and desperate attempts to make as many memories with the ones I will leave behind. 

I will be looking for a new house for my family.  Which will probably involve falling in love with one I end up not being able to have, contemplating buying one I don’t really want, and then ultimately settling on the one God means for us to have. 

It’s gonna be a wild ride!

How to tell if you are a Mom or an Underpaid Maid (Part 2) and what to do about it

PART 2

If you are a wife of a husband who was lucky enough to live in a house in which the men were not responsible for inside chores, or didn’t have to do chores at all, then you are experiencing first-hand the type of man you might very well be creating in your own son.  If you have daughters, is the life you live of never-ending service what you really want your daughter to believe she has to do?  As she watches you, she is learning the standard that she will carry into her own marriage.  Your son as well, he is learning the standard that he will hold his wife up to, possibly without even realizing that he is doing it.

 

I have experienced this with my own children.  It was as if a sudden ball park stadium set of flood lights went off over my head the day the realization hit me.  I discovered that I had believed and was living a complete lie.  I am a stay at home mom.  My husband and I work hard to make sure that I can always be a stay at home mom.  My contribution to the family is not a paycheck.  So it’s my “job” to take care of the family and house.  This idea is all fine and well and completely logical.  However, I had allowed this to become a giant snowball that was growing and growing with every passing week.

I believed that my “job” was ALL encompassing.  I alone needed to keep the house clean, the dishes washed, the clothes washed and put away, the grocery shopping done and the cabinets always fully stocked.  The floors vacuumed and mopped, toilets clean, showers clean, and on and on and on.  On top of that we decided to home school our two children, so that added another HUGE amount of responsibility to me.  Needless to say, it only took three months of the home schooling before the ever-increasing amount of resentment and overwhelming feeling of inadequacy finally exploded.

It was during that temper tantrum/snot – fest that the light bulbs and whistles went off.  I wondered how in the world I had not seen it sooner.

I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING SINCE I DID NOT, ALL BY MYSELF, CREATE EVERY NEED IN THE HOUSEHOLD.

How in the world is it only my responsibility to wash and put away my children’s clothes when they are perfectly capable of doing it themselves? (With logical amounts of assistance)  I did not make them dirty; I did not even wear them.

How in the world is it only my responsibility to vacuum and mop the entire house?  I do not live here by myself.  And I most certainly am not responsible for the disaster of crushed cereal and crackers beneath my children’s chairs.

How in the world is it only my responsibility to clean the bathroom?  I am only one of four people who use the shower.  I did not spray the toothbrush foam all over the mirror.  I did not leave toothpaste gobs in the bottom of the sink.  (I probably did in my own bathroom though).

Since when did I eat all of the food in the house?  I know sometimes the number on the scale may make me think I ate the whole house, but I assure you that I did not.  So why should I be the only one responsible for planning our meals and buying the food and putting it all away?

Did I cook enough food to feed four people for just myself?  Did I make all four plates, cups, sets of silverware and/or bowls dirty by myself?  I would be very worried if any of you answered yes to that question as you read along.  So, why am I the only one standing in the kitchen scrubbing the chili out of the pot?

Did I leave the Hotwheels and Barbies all over the living room floor?  Did I pull all of the pillows off the couch to make a fort for the Barbies?  Some days, yes I did, WITH my kids, but not by myself.  So why should I be the one responsible for keeping them out from under foot three times a day?

The list goes on and on of all the things that I do not do by myself, and yet I had come to believe that I had to take care of them by myself.  I created a lot of work for myself the day I decided I would not live like this anymore.  But it was a lot of work that would make my job easier over time.

I also realized that my children, after 3 years of daily routines, could still not remember a single thing they needed to take care of.  For example, in the morning, a person tends to go to the bathroom, get dressed, put their pajamas away and brush their hair before heading out to have breakfast.  Did my 6-year-old remember any of those steps?  Nope.  What about my 4-year-old?  Nope, not her either.  It was a constant never-ending battle of reminding, yelling and nagging them to take care of things.

It dawned on me shortly after my other revelation that they did not need to remember because I remembered for them.  Why would they
need to learn to take care of it themselves when mom was always there to lead them around by the nose?  So I changed that too.  I made them some charts for the different parts of the day and wrote out what they needed to do, as well as putting up pictures.  Since my kiddos cannot read yet, the pictures were a very important part of it.

Once I had that set up I spent two days showing them how to find the section they needed and showing them what the pictures were and how things would be set up from there on out.  The new rule was that they could not move onto the next activity until the stuff on their chart was done.  In the morning, this means no breakfast until they were finished with their responsibilities.  AND I was no longer going to remind them what they needed to do.  My answer would be, “Check your chart” if they asked.  It took about four days for my son to figure it all out and not need to check his chart anymore.  It took my daughter considerably longer, but she is 4 and very distractible.  The point being though, that mom no longer has to remind them to take care of anything in the morning.  There is no more walking into their bedroom to do something and finding their pajamas all over the floor.  There is no more hounding them on the days when we need to get out the door quickly because they already know what to do and can do it easily and without guidance.  This should be even more reasonable if your children are seven or older.

At first, when we needed to get out the door by a certain time, there was some hiccups.  But as soon as they realized that they would leave the house in whatever state they were in when it came time to leave, they learned really quickly to take care of business.

I remember one grocery shopping trip that needed to happen at 8 am because of other things going on that morning.  My son was not taking me very seriously, as we had only started this regime about three weeks earlier.  This was their first real test to getting out the door, but most definitely not the first time we had gone through the drill of trying to get out the door. After 40 minutes of arguing and playing he still had not taken care of business. I ended up going to the grocery store with a very upset six-year-old.  He had on only pajama pants when we left.  So, he had to sit in the cart while I did my shopping.  He had no shoes, no shirt and no breakfast.  Needless to say, that hasn’t happened again.  It only took one time for him to learn that I meant what I said and that he really was responsible for himself.

How to tell if you are a Mom or an Underpaid Maid (Part 1)

PART  1

Moms, do all the future wives and husbands in this country a big favor.  You know that voice in your head that should be wearing a maid uniform?  FIRE HER!!

The one that compels you to clear the table after the family has eaten.  The one that compels you to stand in the kitchen for another hour cleaning everyone’s dishes after you already spent an hour cooking for all of them. Fire Her!

It’s the same voice that tells you it is normal to wash your teenage son or daughter’s  laundry and clean his/her room for them, because you are “helping” them, or simply because you think you are supposed to.  (For that matter, children as small as 5 can do their laundry with minimal assistance.)

It is the same voice that makes you feel that it is normal to make the menu for the week, make the grocery list, do all the shopping, lug the groceries in, put them all away and then listen to your children (and husband) open the cabinets and complain, “There’s nothing to eat!”

It is the voice that has you tied in knots after you have spent a week cleaning the house – solo- before Thanksgiving with the in-laws.

It is the voice that propels that scream out of your throat when your son hasn’t taken out the trash for the 10th week in a row, as you drag the trash can behind you down the driveway.

It is the voice that doesn’t understand that you should not be the one picking up all of toys in the living room three times a day.

It is the voice you don’t even hear while you are chasing your third grader around the house, trying to ask them if they have their: shoes, jacket, lunch, snacks, permission slips, back pack, school books, homework, etc, etc, etc.  (or fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, or eight……)

The list goes on and on and on.  Somehow moms (and wives) everywhere have allowed this little voice to plant itself firmly in their minds.  Most of us don’t even hear it anymore; it is such a seemingly natural part of who we are.  We have bought the lie that mom must do it ALL.  While yes, mom is responsible for a lot, she is most definitely responsible for it ALL.

What moms are truly responsible for, is training our children in up in the way that they should go.  Do this now as they are a child and they will not depart from it when they walk on their own.

So what does this have to do with your child’s future spouse?  A LOT!

Believe it or not, you are training your child that they are not responsible for their own lives.  Our children are brought into this world completely dependent on their parents.  As they grow, the things they need from their parents changes, and usually changes quickly.

Unfortunately, a lot of moms do not know how to stop doing for their child what they did for their child as an infant and toddler.  They just kind of keep doing it, getting more and more frustrated and resentful of their ever-increasing load.  As the child grows, their needs change, usually demanding far more of mom’s time and energy if she has not found a way, or even realized a way was needed, to guide the child into self-sufficiency.   The way to self-responsibility and awareness of how their actions (or lack of) affects their world and the world of those they interact with.

The law that says, “For every action there is an equal/logical and opposite reaction.”

Examples of this would be:

If you play in the mud (action) your clothes will get dirty (reaction).

If you wash the clothes (action) they will become clean (reaction).

However, in the language of a mom that “does it all” it would look like this:

Child plays in the mud (action) and their clothes get dirty and mom probably gets really mad (reaction).

Child strips after tramping through house and puts clothes on floor in front of washer (action) and mom washes them, folds them and puts them away after mopping/vacuuming the mud off the floor (reaction).

As you can see, the logic of that equation is very off; the reaction no longer has opposite and equal quantities in relation to the action.

Now let’s go back to the mom speak action.  The child plays in the mud and mom gets mad.  Why did mom get mad?  Is it because the mud is bad and will make the child sick and die? No.  Does mom get mad because there is anything dangerous or inappropriate about playing in the mud?  No.  Mom probably got mad because there was a rule about playing in the mud, which is basically that it isn’t allowed.

Now why did mom make that rule?  I am not going to go through all of the above questions, because we all already know the answer.

“Because then they come in the house and get mud everywhere: on the floor, on the wall, on the door, etc.  And then I have to go and wash them, maybe twice just to get them clean and I already have a million other things to do.”

Sound familiar?  You can duplicate this unbalanced equation for nearly everything in your household that you take care of all by yourself that you should not be taking care of all by yourself.  You will also find that the reason behind you doing all of these things is not an answer that does your child one lick of good.  Your reason benefits him/her none.

In my house, the equation used to look like that.  Keep in mind that my son is six and my daughter is four.  It now looks like this:

Child plays in the mud (action) and gets so very dirty (reaction).

Child rinses their feet, strips at the back door down to his/her skivvies and gets an old beat up towel to cover up with, and takes a shower.  After which the muddy clothes they left on the porch until after their shower, get picked up by the child, put in the washer (with mom turning knob to set wash cycle and child using a soap pump to put in soap), put in the dryer (usually with mom reaching to the bottom of the dryer for the clothes first), folded and put away without assistance. (reaction)

You might be reading that and shrugging your shoulders and saying, “So?” ( Or you may be wondering how in the world I managed to get my children to do their own laundry.  Believe me, it wasn’t easy, but you can read about that in Part 2)

The reasoning behind this is to teach my children that THEIR choices cause things to happen in THEIR world with some logical effect on my world, but in equal balance to one another.  THEIR choice to play in the mud does not cause a reaction in ONLY Moms world, but in their own.

The same holds true for everything, not just housework and chores.  It works with friendships, respect for others space and feelings, treatment of toys/belongings, forgetfulness, etc.   If you don’t speak nicely to others, they will not want to be around you.  If you do not take care of your belongings they will break or fall apart.  If you do not remember to tell mom about an activity, then you don’t go.  Etc.  It just might take some creativeness and HARD work on your part to start doing it.

It will be hard because your children will not understand at all what is going on, even if they are older.  They will also not like the work it creates for them, or the feelings that go with it.
Be patient, explain to them why you are doing this, help them through it, and the feelings that come with it.  They will be angry, overwhelmed, frustrated possibly even resentful.  All of which are logical emotions to a world that has been flipped upside down.  You will be battling what I have coined “entitlement syndrome”.

If you do it a little at a time, are gentle with explaining, and understanding of their emotions, over time, you will see a child you never saw before.  Your days will look different, your house will look different, your relationship with your children will look different, and you will feel different.  And possibly most importantly their future boss/spouse/coworker/roommate will thank you.