Oh, how I had plans. From that first moment when the end of the stick turned pink, I just knew I was going to love being a mom. And I was going to be absolutely superb at it too. I would never yell, that was for certain, but there were finer details to implement as well. My children would all learn sign language and Spanish…and all as babies while their brains were eager to learn. They would each hear the Bible in its entirety by the end of their first year…and then they’d hear it again every year after (until, at a remarkably young age, they were able to read it for themselves).
I had grand goals for myself as a wife too…goals that, I’m afraid to admit, I was only really reaching until the end of the stick turned pink.
And my life was turned upside down.
And every thing I knew flew quickly out of reach like dandelion seeds in a wind storm.
Having four children in sixteen months will do that, I’m told. But still, it has been frustrating to me. I didn’t recognize myself for a long time, until the flip-flops and sweat pants wearing person I had become becamethe person I actually was. My kids still know me as the girl they see in our wedding album. But I don’t. And on a insecure day, that scares me.
The thing that has frustrated me the most, since becoming a mom the sixth week of my first pregnancy, has been my complete inability to keep up with my house while doing everything else I’ve wanted and needed to do. I’ve wanted to write, and, albeit halfheartedly, I’ve done that. I’ve wanted to play and to teach and to cuddle, and, though I have not fully succeed at the “no yelling” clause, I have been active in all of those areas as well.
When it comes to the things that can be put off till tomorrow, I’ve learned to just let go (for the most part), except as it’s related to my playing the hostess…which I have no doubt I was gifted to do. This is where the mess was holding me hostage. And that was making me mad.
As it turns out, I have many shortcomings that have revealed themselves through my motherhood. And sure, I can blame most of them on my twin mommy badges…my desire to contain rather than equip, for one. I have been well aware, for about a year now, that my big kids were old enough for chores. But I’ve asked them to do little more than wipe their nose prints from the window, set the table and pick up their toys. Because, well, it’s easier to do things myself than to explain, train, and clean up the messes that automatically result from childhood productivity. It’s laziness, on my part, and I’ve finally gotten mad enough to care. I care about raising responsible kids, and I will not take the easy way out* any longer. I refuse to raise kids that know nothing about housework and take zero responsibility for their own messes (we all know these people as adults, but let’s keep their names to ourselves).
*containing them with movies while I fly through the house on a kid-free cleaning rampage
For the past month, my house has been clean. It’s not immaculate, mind you, but if you showed up at my door right now with chocolate or cash, I would definitely let you in.
I don’t have any big secrets to share; this part of parenting has probably come much more easily for you than it has for me. But after I finally learned, only three or four months ago, that my productivity increased if my kids were occupied in the same room I was cleaning (and I’m sure this is only true with toddlers and small children), putting them to work in said room seemed like the obvious next step.
For now, this is what we do:
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