Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Kids are gross. Parenting is counter-intuitive. My mother is a saint.

I made pumpkin muffins this morning for breakfast because it's about 65 degrees outside and filling my kitchen with the warm smell of spices is my way of coping. I"m basically denying the reality that this chill is only a harbinger of the death of all the green things and the coming of the Great Cold.

Back to my muffins...

I had the batter all ready and went to pull the muffin tins out of the cabinet. As I unstacked them onto the counter and began to butter them, I realized that whichever child had "washed" them, had simply washed the top one of the stack, leaving the dirty ones firmly fixed to the back end. And then whichever child was responsible for "drying" and putting away the dishes had, complicit, merely dried the outside of the stack and shoved the whole deal into the closet.


(All of my children are now old enough to be involved in the dish-washing process, so even if you think you know which kid was responsible, you don't. Thus I protect the identity of the innocent and guilty alike. Also, I have no idea who was responsible either, or believe you me, I'd be doing more about it than just writing a vent-y blog post...)

That old saw about how if you want something done right, do it yourself is SO true. Especially when you have kids. But so is this one about the goal of mothering: that is, our goal is to work ourselves out of a job. Teach our kids to do everything for themselves, so that we have nothing left to do. Hah. I know. There will never actually be nothing for us to do. But you get my point. The problem is that it is SO HARD to make myself take the time to let them do it, fail, correct them, explain, make them do it over again, correct again, etc, wash, rinse, repeat, ad nauseum. It drives me crazy. And the older the kids get and the more of "my job" they learn to do, the more difficult it is for me to let go of the perfection of order and detail that I want, in order to teach them to care for themselves. Don't laugh, IT'S HARD.

When Sofi and Judah were little, J would take them off on Saturday mornings for Special Daddy Time and I would clean the whole house myself. In blissful silence and with total concentration I would polish, wash, sweep and even wash, dry, fold and put away entire loads of laundry, while I cleaned the bathroom to sparkling perfection. Now? Now everyone has Jobs. You might think this would make my job easier. You would be wrong.

It's worth it. I know it is. In the end they will be able to cook and care for themselves, do their own laundry, make a week's meal plan and budget for their groceries. The all (even the boys) will be able to sew on a button, clean a toilet and iron a shirt. And one day they will thank me. I tell them this every Saturday. "One day you'll thank me!" I shout into the maelstrom of whining, complaining, dishcloths flying, laundry swirling, feather dusters flung across the room in frustration, "I know you will!" They roll their eyes, "How do you KNOW???"  I'll tell you how I know. This is how I know.

Dear Mom,
Thank you, thank you for teaching me how to cook and care for myself, how to do my laundry, make a meal plan, keep a budget, sew on a button, scrub a toilet and iron a .... (never mind, that was Mrs Hendry). Thank you for taking the time and sacrificing your standards to teach me the skills to be self-sufficient and a decent respectable member of society. I know it wasn't a cake-walk.
Forever grateful,
you daughter

Sofi, Judah, Jamie, wait and see.... wait and see....


Gramoni said...

You are welcome, dear daughter, but you don't quite have the facts. MY children were always very efficient in their cleaning. They obeyed without whining. They dusted baseboards and kept their rooms in good order. We worked together every Saturday to get ready for a restful Sunday. The house was almost always in good order at the end of every day. You were all mild-natured and did not erupt in frustration. Just saying: I had much more compliant material to work with than you do. :)

Polly said...

I remember cleaning day being pretty fun.
And I remember a certain sister being more picky about it than Mom was!

Polly said...

PS. The sister wasn't you.

Polly said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Polly said...

I remember cleaning day being pretty fun.
And I remember a certain sister being more picky about it than Mom was!

Hank said...

Ah, the memories! :0 For real, Toni? I remember Lisi's description. I know - Sam didn't have to help. ;)