Mom, can you get me a bowl of cereal?
Mom, can you wash these jeans for tomorrow?
I’ve been fielding these kinds of requests for years now. If you’re a mom, it comes with the territory. And I generally enjoy doing things for my kids.
But something occurred to me recently. My children are TEN and THIRTEEN!! Can someone please tell me why I’m still at the beck-and-call of my able-bodied, (nearly) grownup children??
Because I’ve allowed it, that’s why! They’re no dummies. They know they have a good thing going. Ask Mom to do something, she does it. Do a job slowly or half-way, Mom will come in and save the day. Need help with a school project? Mom’s on the job.
It’s yet another ugly byproduct of my perfectionism. A long time ago, I (subconsciously) decided that I’d rather have the job done right than have one of my children do it and risk that they’d mess something up. Horrors.
That resulted in a neater house commandeered by a stressed-out mom who is still pouring cereal for her 10-year-old son and toasting bagels for her teenager.
I’ve been aware of it for a while, but I think it became glaringly apparent this summer because they’re home 24/7. I may have to call in Merry Maids to help handle all the requests.
I’ve been doing them a huge disservice. Because I doubt their college roommate is going to do their laundry. Or that my son’s future wife is going to want to fetch him a bowl of chips every time the mood strikes him. And unless my daughter marries a chef, she could be in trouble.
They’re not going to live in my cushy house forever.
The real world is much harsher and far less accommodating.
God has entrusted me to empower my children to live outside of my home, not learn to become dependent on the creature comforts inside of it.
It’s not too late to turn this ship around. I’m on a mission to slowly empower my children to assume appropriate responsibilities for their ages. I can’t expect them to change overnight, but I can begin gradually putting power into their hands -- where it belongs (along with a broom and a mop!).
I’ve already met resistance. I expected it. I made my bed (actually I’ve made their beds, too – therein lies the problem) and now I have to lie in it.
To all you moms with little ones out there, start early! Give them age-appropriate jobs from the time they are young. Yes, it takes more time to let them do it and it will certainly not be done perfectly.
But you will be giving them – and their future spouses and roommates -- a huge gift. And, as an added bonus, you won’t find yourself so cranky and overwhelmed as they get older because you’ve trained them well. And at some point, the training will pay off and you’ll have useful and genuine help from those little people living in your home.
If you're like me and have gotten a late start, don't assume all is lost. I've seen some good progress in a short time with my two.
Okay, time to take out the garbage. Micah, I’ve got a job for you!