Monday, August 9, 2010

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

I have made some big changes in my lifestyle.  First and foremost, I am so OVER the phenomena of doing EVERYTHING for my boys. Somewhere along the line I ceased being CJ the mom and  became Alice the maid.  You know Carol Brady's Alice.  She wore the light blue maid's uniform, dated Sam the butcher and sported a modified bouffant.  I am not trying to offend Alice, she had a good deal going with the Bradys. At least she got a private room and a paycheck.

 I would spend considerable amounts of time straightening up, arranging and organizing our living space, only for it to be torn up and in total disarray once my back was turned.  I would freak...OUT.  There would be massive amounts of tears with ample apologies, some of which came from my children, but the cycle would repeat itself day after day.   My Alice persona would scurry around picking up toys and trash, putting the pillows back on the sofa and wiping up you know what from toilet seats. I found I was doing a little of everything, but accomplishing nothing. My house was always out of sorts.

Well, one night Alice went to bed and CJ woke up in her place.  I was like the prodigal son who came into his right mind while sleeping in a pig pen.  I went to bed with my brain crammed with  "ToDo ToDay" lists and regrets about all that I didn't do, but when I woke up my mind felt light. Overnight my boys unknowingly inherited a portion of my "ToDo ToDay" list.  (That is what I call my daily lists)

When the boys came into my room unannounced to beg for breakfast. Alice was gone.  In her place was CJ! Mama was back! By time the breakfast dishes were cleared there was a chore chart, and the festivities began.

Here are the things Alice did, but mama refuses:

1. Mama does not clean other people's bedrooms.
2. Mama does not make dinner, set the table, clear the table, load and then empty the dishwasher.
3. Mama does not wipe pee off of toilet seats.
4. Mama does not go behind boys in the kitchen and put caps back onto bottles, milk into the refrigerator or twist tie the bread bag.
5. Mama does not give into whining and begging.(I have to admit that was the hardest)
6. Mama does not slather lotion onto the naked bodies of 6 and 8 year old boys.
7. Mama does not - I repeat -does not pick up dirty underwear that was somehow left on the hallway rug.

When did being mama become synonymous with being a maid or a personal assistant that handles every unpleasantry?  We play a million roles as a mom, having to switch hats at any given moment.  That is the nature of the beast.  Most women are wired to multi-task, so I totally understand why many of us are the homekeepers. But what happened to children and teens having chores and being responsible for their own space and possessions.  I see so many parents who inappropriately do everything for their kids from saying yes to every juice request to doing their science fair projects.  It happens to us all for sure.  We give in to the 4th cookie request or we help just a little to much on a school assignments. I am talking about children and teens that do not have to DO ANYTHING! Mom or dad cleans their room, does their laundry, and consistently follows after them picking up the trail of stuff left in their wake.  Moms, I have to confess, I was on that path.

I don't want to give the impression that we in a picture perfect home. I am not a neat freak or tyrannical taskmaster. The chores my boys are responsible for are age appropriate and easy.  I don't hound them to be perfect.  In fact I have been known to rearrange the just put away cups and scoop up the shoes that were kicked under the bed while cleaning.  My little men do not have to do what I do, or the way I do.  They just have TO DO.  Every single person in our house is a fully engaged contributor to the maintenance and well-being of our little family. We all have the pleasure of both giving and receiving.


  1. okay, okay. But if I could, I would totally hire an Alice. Oh if I could....

  2. Get real mommy!

    Amen! Carol Brady Step aside. The minute I win the lotto or a long lost billionare relative dies, I will be right behind you in the "get an Alice" line. As soon as I secure that I will be in the tummy tuck line to get rid of the roll of flap graciously given to me by my twin girls!

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. Amen!!!!!! This is a great post, CJ and just what I needed today. My boys are 3 and almost 6 and I am just now realizing that I am going to become Alice if I don't watch out. It is such a fine balance between being loving and spoiling your kids so that they don't know how to take care of themselves. But my husband's brother is a great example of what happens when you don't teach kids responsibility. He is 22 and his mama is still paying for his apartment. He has no job and no desire to work or support himself. I hope that he gets it together someday, but in a way, you can't blame him because he's never been taught how. I definitely don't want to do that with my boys. So I'm taking a good example from you, CJ!! Starting now! No more Alice. She's left the building. xoxoxoxo

  4. I think moving from Alice to Mamma is a rite of passage, and I am so happy for you that you have made the switch. I was never a very good for me it wasn't hard, but figuring out what the Mamma in this house should look that is a trial and error. Good for you!!

  5. Oh boy did I need this today too! I was just about to yell that I have picked up this Hot Wheels track for the last time!!! And you know what, thanks to you, I will pick it up for the last time. It hit me the other day when I told my 8 yr old he needed to clean his room, he disappeared for 30mins and came back to tell me he was done. I swear - he had moved two things. He doesn't have a clue how to clean up because for the sake of harmony and speed, I've been doing it all these years.
    Thanks for helping me kick Alice out (although, like previous commenters, if she actually showed up here, I'd give her the baby's room, after she cleaned it...)

  6. Oh CJ,

    You are so on the right track with this. There is such a fine line between showing your children how to be helpful and tidy. To teach them how to cook and have the discipline to do their chores and homework but you have to know when to step down and let them be responsible.

    I wrote this post last summer for a Sprite Campaign and it touches on this subject:

    FYI: I no longer pimp out my writing to companies I don't support.

  7. I love this, CJ. I may post it on my fridge as a manifesto. I'm tired of feeling like a sherpa to my boys!

  8. CJ -

    I came to this post from the Aspiring Writers group. Everyone commented so highly on it that I just had to come see for myself. I'm so glad I did. I LOVE this post! It's a perfect follow up to the one I wrote about being a perfect wife and mom. I am definitely your newest follower!!

  9. Organic - Great thing your brother-in-law is an inspiration for kicking Alice out. FOr me - it was all those guys on Judge Judy (yes..yes...I watch!) that were being sued by women who paid their rent, bought them cars and cell phones!


  10. Meagan,

    How right you are. Every household and family is different, and we have to determine what being Mama means to us. That is the very premise to Killing Superwoman. We have to organically determine who we are - not just resign ourselves to doing it like everybody else!!


  11. Alysia,

    I'm glad I can be of help. We can keep each other accountable (ie.SANE)during the process!
    Also, there is a BIG difference between being Alice and hiring one. Pahleeze!

  12. Jillian,

    That post was great. Might I suggest re-posting or providing alink sometime in the near future on you blog. Parents must be reminded of those things, it gets so easy to just sigh in exaperation and just do everything ourselves for the sake of time or ease.

    Also, good heavens - the entire privacy thing with my children is driving me crazy! It is getting to the point where mommy and daddy's room may have to be off limits all together. They walk in and out like it's the living room.

    At least they knock before coming in. Now we just have to teach them to wait until we say "Enter"

  13. Peryl: That would be funny, especially if you boys could read - HEY - that's really not a bad idea. It could be a not so subtle reminder.


  14. So the first post I've read on your blog is this one, and all I can say is AMEN!!! I feel like this all the time, and truth be told, since I just read this, I kept my butt right in my chair while hubby did the dishes (usually I'd be up and saying "no no, I'll get it" after working nine hours). So you've already inspired me, lol!!

    I found you through the Mom Bloggers Club and you have a great blog here! I Followed you through Google Friend Connect as well - care to take a look at mine as well? :D

  15. Yeah, momma- good for you!

    Our room has always been "off limits" to our kids.

    For some reason, the grandson can come in and bug grandma & grandpa - it's ok!

  16. Good for you! I know I will have trouble with this. I already get flack for doing to much for and with my kids from my mom, mother and law and husband, and they are only 3 and 5!

    I'd love it if you get a chance to visit my green mom giveaway blog.

  17. Following you from MBC! Come visit and follow back!

  18. I second that amen and, kudos to you, cj. Good luck to you, it really works.

    My three "thirty-something" kids (especially the oldest two) hated when they returned home from school on any given day to find all their mess piled in the middle of the floor -- I mean ALL their a pile, in the middle of the floor.

    The deal was, they could not do one single solitary other thing until their rooms were cleaned.

    That only happened a few times. After that I did not have to keep repeating "clean your rooms".

    Great post!

    PS: And, when things were left in family areas I'd warn them - once. When I had to pick up their stuff, I'd put it away in a box...never to be seen or had by the offending child.

  19. Hi CJ, stopped by to let you know that I've given you a blog award. You can stop by and pick it up at Have a Great Week!

  20. Guys - thanks so much for the comments and follows. I will return the favor.

    DellGirl:Great tips. IF I need to employ them I will.

    Thanks Alicia!!