At any given point our home looks like this.
A sea of strewn clothing, stray crayons, and piles of paperwork, littered with what is occasionally just garbage. My husband and I pick up, we sweep, we throw things away like ninjas when the kids aren’t looking. And yet the ill fitting clothing, broken toys, and unmatched mittens seem to multiply behind our backs, scrambling into every last corner of our home.
And it just keeps coming. “Artwork” and endless worksheets from school, prizes from carnivals and gift bags from birthday parties, beloved toys from daycare. It is overwhelming, this game of keeping up with the constant barrage of crap coming into our home. I often feel that I am drowning in stuff, drowning in the physical chaos of this stage in our lives.
And I realize that we have been lenient. We have rarely made them pick up after themselves.
We’ve been lenient because we are outnumbered. Following our first son around singing the “Pick Up” song was completely adorable and a bonding experience. Chasing three of them through the house screaming at them to pick up their damn clothes already while we scramble to get ready for school, daycare and work is anything but.
We’ve been lenient out of sheer exhaustion. At the end of the day, dragging ourselves upstairs to put the kids to to bed is all we have left. We’ve saved hundreds of tears by learning to live with the mess, mostly from me.
We’ve been lenient out of habit. At any given point in the last five years we’ve had children who were some level of incapable of picking up after themselves and we’re just now coming to the realization that we are still doing things for them that they should be doing for themselves.
At times, we’ve been lenient out of sheer laziness. There are days when it is just so much easier to do something yourself than to argue with a five year old over why she should do it or try to teach a three year old the proper way to do it. Parenting is the ultimate practice in micro management and it can be mind numbingly painful.
But in our leniency, we are failing them.
We are failing to teach them respect for their environment and responsibility for themselves. We are failing to teach them the value of money, that when you work hard to purchase something you need to take care of it and treat it with respect. We are failing to teach them teamwork, that being part of a family includes responsibility to that family. We’re failing to teach them empathy, that their actions of being total slobs adds more work to their parents’ plate.
We’re not only failing them, we’re failing the world that will have to deal with them as adults.
Spring is coming, the windows will be open and you may hear me as you walk the sidewalks of our busy neighborhood.
You will hear me saying things like,
“We all live in this house and we’re all going to take care of this house.”
“I know that the glass I’m asking you to pick up isn’t yours, but the dishes I’m doing aren’t all mine either. We’re a team.”
“Put your plate in the sink, your dad is not your servant.”
And sometimes, when I completely lose my shit, you will hear me yell things like, “Your dad and I have invested a ton of money in this house and I’m sick of watching you destroy it!”
And if you listen closely you may even hear my husband whisper behind me, “You should listen, she doesn’t yell much but when she does it’s super crazy.”
You might even catch my eye through an open door as you walk by.
If I have time, I’ll stop yelling long enough to give you a wink and say, “you’re welcome world.” I expect a thumb’s up in return.