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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Give me strength



By Andris Bear

I had an epiphany.

The same earth-shattering, life-changing, original epiphany every mother has at one time or another. I decided to teach my kids a lesson in responsibility, gratitude and what it means to be a member of a family.

Did you know there’s this amazing centrifugal force called M.O.M. and she does everything, all the time, with a smile on her face?  
Call me smiley.
Apparently, children are born expecting servitude from this mythical creature.

Before we get to the particulars, you must understand this decision was beyond difficult for my not-so-inner control freak. I like things the way I like things and when expectations are not met, foaming at my mouth occurs. Seriously, think Cujo on two shaved (sometimes) legs.

So, what, exactly, did I do?

I quit.

I’ve let my house go to the bears. Heh, heh.  Toys rule the floor. Dishes rule the sink. And Laundry? Oh, you don’t have a clean shirt? Awww. Better turn that crumpled one on the floor inside out.
Stink? You? Noooooo.


Why do this? Certainly not because I'm into the demilitarized zone decorating style.
I’ve grown tired of picking up after little people—be it toys, clothes, schoolwork or dishes. If I trip over Barbie one more time, she’s getting a buzz cut.  And those Geo Trax remote controls that like to go off in the middle of the night and make my sleep-deprived brain think a ghost is screeching, “Chug-a-chug-a-whoo-WHOO!”

Going on the top of the pyre.

Now I don’t want you leaving here with the impression my kids don’t have chores—they do, but I have to constantly stay on top of them to make sure said chores are done. And isn’t that just a pain in the rump? It’d be easier (and quicker, not to mention better done) if I just did it myself. But I refuse to allow my children to expect from others what they won't do for themselves.

So the lesson I’m attempting to teach my babes is that when we work together, support one another, things run smoothly. But when people don’t do their small part, the whole system falls into chaos and we all lose.

And the lesson they’re teaching me? Their will is stronger than mine.

Got any advice or tips for mama Bear? I could really use some.

29 comments:

  1. Oh goodness, Andris! How long has the standoff been going on? I wish I had advice, but I've hired a housekeeper, which I don't think is the lesson you're trying to teach. :)

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    1. Ava,
      It's been a little over a week. I can't tell you how difficult it is to ignore the clutter. Well, I'm not really ignoring it as every time I walk through my living room I have a mini stroke. BUT I'm not cleaning it, darn it!
      Yeah, a housekeeper isn't quite the lesson I'm going for. Ha!

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  2. Boy, do I feel for you. I am apparently the only one in the house who can SEE the mess. I learned this lesson the hard way, just after I got married. Dh would come home, wrestle off his shirt and tie and leave them in the chair next to the door in our tiny apartment. Every day.

    I got tired of picking them up and decided not to. They piled up on the chair. He went and bought more shirts. Guess who broke first?

    I can't stand clutter--it's the weakness they know they can exploit.

    If you find the answer, call me, will you!?

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    1. Deb,
      Oh you have special mommy eyes too?! Why is it no one else notices this stuff?! For my hubs, it's not the clothes--he puts his in the hamper (albeit the WRONG one-I have 3-one for bleaches, one for darks, one for lights. How can he not see that black doesn't go in the bleach pile?! But I'm going to take the breaks where I get them and let it go). :) It's my kitchen counter. Why is this a catchall for EVERYTHING? I've found receipts a good six months old. Ugh! Drives me out of my twitching gourd. If ever I find the magic words or special formula to open their eyes, I will call you ASAP. ;}

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  3. Good for you, Andris! I hit the breaking point about five years ago. I had a very calm conversation with my husband where I told him I was done with taking care of others all the time. I had no intentions of living the rest of my life working all day then picking up after everyone else, etc, because that was no life. I was going to start doing things I wanted to do. My house isn't the cleanest, but everyone pitches in and if I say, we're cleaning up tonight, everyone takes a zone and starts cleaning. My husband will even tell the kids it's time to clean without me saying anything, which I appreciate.

    I never did this, but I've heard of mom's having a bin and if a toy is left out, it goes in the bin. The kid can only get it back by performing a chore of the mom's choosing. Then there's a time limit. If the chore isn't done within that time, or the kid doesn't ask about the toy, it goes to charity. I have given away something that kept hanging out in a public area of the house, and no one ever noticed it was missing.

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    1. Samantha, I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one! My hubby is getting a little twitchy with the situation, but bless his heart, he hasn't said a thing. He understands what I'm trying to do and agrees the kids need to do their part.
      I have gone on a rampage where the kids get a half an hour warning and anything left on the floor after that time gets tossed, but the fallout I have to deal with isn't worth it. Have you heard two prepubescent girls whine in unison? Not pretty. Here's hoping they break before I do! ;}

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  4. Oh boy, Andris. Sounds like you and I are on opposite paths. LOL. I grew up with two pack rat parents, who taught all their kids to be pack rats, and there were FIVE of us. So we had so much stuff, there was literally no way for anything to ever be neat and tidy. It just didn't happen.

    I've spent my entire life that way, and I'm DONE. Finished. I can't take it any more.

    So when I made the move from Texas to North Carolina, I tossed or donated a lot of stuff before I left. (Four carloads of donations, two more of trash.) And once I got here and started unpacking, I organized as I went. Everything gets a home. And I'm going to do my darnedest to make sure that after I use something, it goes back to its home.

    It hasn't been an easy transition for me, and I still have a lot of work to do to have things the way I want them to stay. But I'm getting there. It helps that I don't have any other people around screwing things up for me. It's just me and the cats. Granted, THEY like to rearrange things from time to time, too. LOL.

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    1. Catherine,
      I totally understand--I used to keep everything until I had kids and simply ran out of room. Now, if it isn't used, it goes. Our house is too small for five people as it is, but pack it with stuff we don't even use? I'd be fitted for one of those nifty jackets that tie in back. ;}
      My grandma was a huge pack rat--bordering on being a hoarder--and we found newspapers from the 1950's stacked in her spare bedroom when she died. Good for you for changing the habit. With some feline help, of course. ;}

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  5. It takes me a week of saying Mom is vacuuming Saturday morning any toys on the floor go in the trash to get rooms cleaned. Right now I'm in a fight with the oldest about him folding and putting away his clothes. He's twelve...he can do this.

    Oh and don't get me on the throwing trash/paper plates away when they are done with food. Oh I'm sorry am I interrupting your wii playing....tough throw out your trash. :)

    Stay strong.

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    1. Beth, Dang, you give a much better warning than I do. It's usually a half hour and that's it. I have the same problem with plates and cups. My kids know they're not supposed to eat in the living room, but for some strange reason I'm always finding plates and cups in there. Hmmmm. Sneaky buggers. ;}

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  6. Yeah...I so am not the one to talk. I literally doesn't bother me in the least if the clothes stay in the laundry basket after they are clean. Easier access, if you ask me! Dishes - meh - that's what fingers are for. My hubby is the neat nick, so I *try* to keep things decent for his sake, but if my bra is hanging on the closet door knob for two weeks, than it will be that much easier to grab when I want to wear it again.
    Good luck with the experiment ;)

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    1. Erin,
      Ha! When it comes to putting laundry away, I'm the same. I actually enjoy the sorting, washing, drying and even folding. Putting the clothes in the drawer or hanging them? I'd rather mow my face. I HATE it. I don't know why. Same with dishes-I don't mind washing, but putting them in the cabinets?! What kind of forced labor is this?! These are the duties I need to start forcing on my kids. ;}
      Thanks for the well wishes!

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  7. I have to say, I teeter somewhere between OCD neat freak...and Erin (totally agree about the laundry and the bra!!)...how is that possible??? I guess it's that I LOVE a clean, neat house, but I'm too lazy to do the work to make it that way. Hubby is about the same way, so our solution is to hire people to clean up after us. LOL! Since we just moved, we lost our usual caretakers -- a maid every other week to do the cleaning, and our nanny did laundry, dishes and general pick up of the living areas. BUT, there is a light at the end of our very messy tunnel -- today we interview a jill-of-all-trades!!! But like Ava pointed out...that's probably not the solution you're looking for ;)

    Since our daughter isn't even 3 yet, we haven't dealt much with the whole chore/picking up after yourself issue. There have been a few times where she's deliberately made a mess just to piss me off, in which case a lot of crying ensues when I tell her she can't do anything until the beans (or the clothes or the Cheerios, etc...) are picked up and put away.

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    1. OMG...my nephew went through that phase a while back. One day, he tossed an entire three pound bucket of ground coffee all over his bedroom. They cleaned that up and bought more coffee. The next day, he repeated the process. The third day, it was raw oatmeal. The fourth day, he did it with pancake syrup. Seriously. His bedroom smelled like breakfast for months.

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    2. Jerrica,
      Really, I'm more like you--I like my house clean, but sometimes the laziness in me wins out. However, my laziness is okay whereas the kid's is not. It's my house so I can let it go to crap, but NO ONE ELSE CAN! Ha! If only it really worked that way. ;}

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    3. Catherine,
      Holy cheese and crackers, how did he live through that?!

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    4. Hahaha! Totally, Andris! I'm with you all the way on that one!

      Catherine, you have GOT to be kidding me! SYRUP!! I'll second what Andris said...how did he live through that??? I probably would have taken Bella to the fire station. LMAO!

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    5. I don't know. I couldn't tell you. But yes, syrup. And this was before he bleached his TV.

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  8. Andris, did you see my tweet yesterday? The one where I explained that Little Dude called me to the bathroom, looked me right in the eye and said, "When I clap my hands, that means it's time for you to wipe my butt." AND THEN HE CLAPPED. -_-

    Since we are trying to sell the house and we will be moving, we have been doing A LOT of cleaning out and throwing away. I'm hoping to be much more organized and neat in the new house, but it takes a family effort and so far, the Capt and I have been waaaay too lax about not getting on them to put stuff away. That's about to change... ;D

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    1. Olivia,
      Oh. My. Gorgonzola. No, I did not see that tweet! Baha! I'd have said, "Okay, but when I'm done, it's your turn to wipe mine. Deal?" And then pray to God he doesn't shake on it. ;]
      I try not to let it slide, but sometimes it's just too much hassle to make them do it--1/2 hour of bickering or 5 minutes of me doing it myself. Hmmm. Tough choice.

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  9. Give the children up for adoption.

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    1. Oh Donald, you always have the right answer. ;}

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  10. Keep telling them that you hope they grow up (IF you let them!) to have ten kids of their own just like them and don't call you to babysit! This was the threat my Mom used to throw at me and one that I used on my own kids. Well, they did grow up and have their own "little darlings" and now they are dealing with the same problems they gave me. Oh yes, my dear, Karma is a bitch! Seriously though, just do what you can and try to remember that all kids are like this and that they WILL grow up and WILL be wonderful adults one day. Now, you just have to get through until then. I'm betting that you CAN do it! Hang in there!

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  11. Connie,
    I tell mine the same thing! Ha! I've wished three kids, one right after another, on each of them! As much as I love my babes, there is a definite need for justice. And maybe some revenge. Teehee! ;}
    Thank you for stopping by, Connie!

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  12. I could probably come up with some brilliant solution that would sound ludicrous to anyone who's actually been successful at procreation. Rather than give you things to rub my face in in a few years, I'll just send you my love.
    Hope they get the message soon!!

    :)

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    1. Gina, I have no doubt you could come up with creative solutions. ;} Thanks for the support, lovely!

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  13. Great post!I went on strike when my girls were 13 and 10--that was 13 years ago. Cooking was the only thing I didn't stop doing. I mean, they had to eat. But I cooked what I wanted not what they'd liked. I taught my girls how to do laundry and told my husband I wasn't washing any thing I didn't wear until I started getting some help around the house. My youngest ran out of undies. She wore bathing suit bottoms to school. My husband had to wear a dirty pair of work pants to work. The house was a pig sty. But, to my amazement, the kids started doing their own laundry and 13 years later, my husband does more laundry per week than I do. We all pitched in to get the house clean and I learned not to stress about the girl's bedrooms. I only "nagged" them if we were having company. Otherwise, I just closed the door if I didn't like what I saw. The house didn't get as messy and things were less stressful. Sometimes, a mom has to pick her battles and find a compromise that doesn't result in dead bodies. :-)

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    1. Gayle,
      I'm so glad to hear your strike worked! I think mine are finally starting to come around because they're sick of having to wash plates to eat. Teehee. And my daughters are both extremely picky about what they wear, but with all their top picks dirty, they're left with doing laundry or wearing clothes they hate. It warms my heart. ;}

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  14. I used to pack everything Laura left on the floor into a trash bag. Hide it away for a week or so. If it was not missed, throw it away. Sounds harsh, but it taught her to pick up her things.
    (BTW, she is now a completely independant woman with a CDL, a good job and a GREAT boyfriend)

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