So as you might have guessed from last Monday's blog entry (read that entry here if you haven't seen it already) there came a time when home schooling, added to my existing workload, became a little overwhelming. After some very earnest discussions with Lance - and feeling a little like Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses on the church door - I posted the following missive in our dining room:
So what if you left your socks on the coffee table? It’s not a big thing.
But say that each of you does ten of those tiny things a day – and that’s a pretty low estimate.
That leaves me at least 60 small jobs I need to do before I can start my own day. In fact, these small jobs take up MOST of my day.
You know that I am home-schooling now. This is something that takes a tremendous amount of work to do well, and it requires a great deal of studying and preparation.
This means that I am no longer available to pick up your socks, argue with you over whether or not you need to make a lunch, or beg you to take your laundry downstairs so that I can wash and fold it for you.
In fact, until you can all step up to the plate and do your own chores COMPLETELY without being nagged or reminded, pick up after yourselves, and perform the mechanics of daily life without needing me to cheerlead you through them, I am going to suspend the performance of my housekeeping duties.
This is not a punishment. I am not helping you by assuming responsibility for things you should be doing for yourself, and even if I wanted to keep doing it I no longer have the time. When we can ALL contribute to making our home run smoothly, I will be very glad to resume my vocation.
Until then, no more housekeeper.
(Still Wife and Mom, though.)
I thought all my troubles would be solved, and went to work armed with the glow of rectitude and a renewed sense of purpose.
Well, if you're a parent, I don't need to tell you what happened next: Nothing.
A week passed and dirty clothes piled up, the lawn got taller and lunches went unmade.
During the second week I couldn't stand it and pointed out my Manifesto to the kids - they hadn't noticed it before.
Three weeks later I finally admitted defeat. I had a good cry and a good scream in private, then a good laugh at myself in public, and talked to the kids AGAIN about pulling their fair share. They cheerfully agreed to do so - they have always been nothing if not cheerful - and we settled back into the same old "Mom reminds, kids drag their feet" dance that parents and children have done since time immemorial.
As they've gotten older, they've gradually improved - quite gradually, in some cases - to the point where I don't spend my days anymore chasing around after them to clean up their own messes. In fact, most of them have grown into remarkably responsible adults - a couple are still in school, but even they've come a long way.
It just goes to show, though, that parenting can make even a Millie lose her sense of humor, her sense of perspective and her patience.
And that it will all usually come out okay in the end, anyway.