One of the toughest things about parenting for me is getting my little ladies to do what I ask them to do without wearing my throat out repeating myself a zillion times until it gets done. Oh – and then coming up with creative rewards and consequences for the results that don’t involve either spanking or bribery. Some days are cake. We breeze through and everybody is happy! Other days, not so much…
After a long hard day and coming home only to spend almost an hour trying to motivate my girls to do their 1 chore — and being quite unsuccessful… there came a moment that turned it all around.
First of all, instead of finding their homework done, dishes put up, and their bathroom counter simply wiped down, I found two girls in bathing suits and shower caps that had managed to completely drown the bathroom floor in water. Although adorable, they had clearly disregarded my request and actually taken 10X longer managing to be utterly counter-productive… leaving a mess and that much more to be done.
With only a few precious hours in our evenings, I don’t want to spend them doing chores, homework, and nag sessions.
In weariness, frustration, and with as much patience as I could muster, I explained to them,
“Please girls… I just want to come home, make you a great dinner, and just hang out with you…I want to hear about your day, and laugh, and hug, and enjoy just being with you. I don’t want to always have to spend so much time asking you over and over and over and over to do simple tasks. I need your help here, I need you to do your homework. I need you to respect me when I ask you to do something… the FIRST time. I’m sooooo down for fun, I LOVE for you guys to play and just be kids, it makes me so happy to see that. And if you had *first* taken care of your responsibilities, we could already be popping popcorn, vegging on the couch, and just enjoying being with one another.
Instead, you now have a short two hours before your bedtime and 1/2 of that will be spent rushing to get homework done & cleaning up messes. Boo.
So please. PLEASE listen to me… for the last time… Clean up the bathroom floor & Get your homework done. I’ll have dinner ready in a bit.”
As I walked away, I felt defeated. I was tired. A little help here?
In all my efforts to raise little ladies that are responsible, respectful, and successful in life, my hope is always for that to come from them through a natural place of love, not fear – not blind obedience. Love. (plug: check out Loving Our Kids On Purpose – amazing read for parents)
Then came the moment.
After finally changing out of my work clothes, I was crossing the hall to make my way to the kitchen when Jacey’s little head ran into my chest. Her head was down and her little arms wrapped around me tight.
“I’m sorry mommy.”
If you’re a parent, you know those words are rare.
What just happened?
“What? Why are you sorry?”
Her head pressed harder into my chest, her voice cracked, and I knew her eyes were welling up without even seeing her face… (a mother knows)
and from her little heart she spoke, “I’m sorry we make you say the same thing. Over and over. I love you.”
And there it was. Those words knocked the breath out of me.
The work of parenting is far outweighed by the worth in those seeds planted. It takes time. It takes so much patience. But the fruits of parenting – they do show up eventually, and when they do… wow.