Monday, August 9, 2010
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
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.