I clean my kids' bedrooms very thoroughly one time each year. I usually get it done before school is out for the summer, but last year I barely got started before the last day of school snuck up on me. As a result, I spent the first part of the summer doing it while all the kids ran wild, ignoring any requests I made because they knew I was focused on the bedrooms. So, while I waded through my children's excessive worldly possessions day after day, they did whatever they wanted. They watched tons of TV, played Wii, made a wet, sandy mess outdoors (much of which found its way into the house), and left evidence trails of every snack they made for themselves all over the kitchen and living room. Cleaning does not occupy the mind well, so I sat seething and sorting and dwelling on how selfish, spoiled, entitled, and disrespectful my kids had become.
To top that off, I've found that the depths of the mess in a child's room is an archeological dig of all the naughty things they have done over the past few months. There are reminders of things you knew about, discoveries of things you didn't, and concrete evidence of things you suspected. I found marker and nail polish places neither of those things ought to be. I found mean notes about siblings and pity party scrawlings in random notebooks about how unfair I am, and deprived and mistreated the child who wrote it feels. I discovered stepping on the little metal Monopoly dog hurts even worse than a Lego. I found old food in these rooms where food is not allowed. I found toys that belong to siblings that appeared intentionally hidden.
As compelled as I felt to go discuss each of these misdeeds with the corresponding culprits, I decided retroactive punishment was not an option. My daughter would have no idea what she put under her dresser four months ago and there was no possibility of convincing her that the furry green creature on the plate used to be a half-eaten piece of pizza. My son would explain that his little sister brought puzzles and games into his room because it was the only clean floor space in the basement, until she came and destroyed it of course. When they ran out of siblings to blame, they would move on to the cousins who were not present to defend their honor. And bringing up whatever inspired the, "I hat you, I hat you, I hat you," note would inevitably begin another argument. I was too busy getting the cleaning done to stop and confront them about each infraction anyway. Plus I was preoccupied by the fact that my 8-year-old does not know all about spelling long vowel words with a silent 'e' at the end. So the irritation with all these new found and remembered infractions festered making me increasingly furious.
Imagine me as a can of pop and imagine each moldy cup, each airsoft gun pellet, each Polly Pocket shoe, each piece of trash, each musty towel, each long lost single shoe stuffed in a toy purse, and each hour of the kids' TV watching and Wii playing as a little shake. I will not go into all the horrific details, but I'll just say about the third week in, the kids flipped my tab by claiming I was "starving" them by refusing to buy ice cream and snow cones at the ball field each day. (Insert loud, long, psychotic rant about their lack of respect and gratefulness for each day here.)
You are probably expecting some great faith-filled experience or perhaps just a Bible verse about some inspiring way I overcame this horrible negativity since that is generally how this type of blog post ends. Well, sorry. Not this time. I didn't overcome it. Cleaning my kids rooms sucks and I am never going to become Cinderella singing with the birds over it no matter how much praying or Bible reading I do. But since blog posts are supposed to be helpful to their readers, I will tell you this: Christians, and especially Christian moms with young kids, are going to have awful days. Once we get ourselves together after a bad day, or week, we can look back and see that we did not give our children grace and completely lost our tempers. We can berate ourselves and vow not to let that happen again. But it will. It WILL happen again. We are still human. Kids are still kids. So let's forget berating ourselves and insisting we will suddenly become perfect or that we can find a permanent fix for entitled children. Let's just pray for forgiveness and the guidance to lose it a tiny bit less next time.
We must also understand that those bad days serve a very important purpose. They help us appreciate the mundane. Ironically, it is those days that remind us how to be as grateful for God's gifts as we hope our kids will be one day. They make every tiny mom win a little sweeter. Something as simple as heading to church at the end of that week with all the children wearing appropriate church shoes that they found all by themselves, in their closets was indescribably glorious!
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I am the mother of seven children ranging from teens to a toddler, living out in the middle of nowhere, USA. I aim to hone the craft of giving advice without pretending to have this whole mom thing figured out. I am Christian, but not the really nice kind that is good at it. I am also conservative, but I promise not to be in your face with political agendas very often. I like to infuse humor into my writing, so don't freak out if you are offended or appalled by what you read here. There is a very fine line between serious advice and sarcastic hyperbole.