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I'm An Amazing Mother When My Children Aren't Around

Maddie and Cora have both been in camp this week, and I have to admit, it’s nice having a couple hours of space to try to get back on top of my domestic life. I adore having the girls out of school, and we’ve positively wallowed in our togetherness – copious hours by the pool, multiple rounds of Go Fish and dance-a-thons, and so on. But as we spend so much time hanging out, other things fall by the wayside: suddenly I’m doing laundry in fits and spurts, and may get three loads washed one day but take almost a week to get them folded and put away. Small things break down in the house and simply don’t get fixed.

And as for housecleaning –well, let’s just say don’t look at my toilets too closely.

So having a couple hours this week to get back on top of my motherly mountain has been great. Most mornings I’ve been teaching, then picking Cora up at noon, but I still have found time to pick up the house (though you’d never know it to see it now), meal plan, fix some stray toys, clean AND fold laundry, and update Maddie’s iPod playlist.

Though you still shouldn’t look too closely at the toilets.

But here’s what I’ve discovered over this week: I am in a season where I happily serve my family at home. Not saying I’m a domestic goddess, just that I am not at a point where I’m resentful and begrudging time spent on my family. I found organic (ORGANIC!) raspberries on sale for ninety-seven cents a flat, and I bought and froze three dozen of them, one tray at a time, for smoothies and jam. These sort of activities make me happy.

So I get in this groove, and start to think of how much I love my kids, and how happy I am to make their lives a bit better – not doing their chores for them, but showing them I love them through acts of service. I’m happy and humming and all Donna Reed on the situation.

And then they come home, and somehow my patience and sunny disposition just vanishes. Suddenly I’m snapping at them, short-tempered when they’re bickering with each other and impatient with their petty worries and obsessions. It’s almost as if I feel like I’ve poured several hours into mothering them and loving on them, and NOW I DESERVE A BREAK. Don’t they know how much I’ve done for them? Shouldn’t they be a LITTLE grateful and try to behave?

Which is when I realize I’m going about this wrong. My kids don’t care if we make homemade jam or buy it at the store. I mean, yes, they enjoy it, and part of my family job is feeding them healthy foods and keeping the budget down, but which is more important to them: a freezer full of bagged raspberries, or a mommy who is THERE and listening at the end of what’s been a reasonably tiring day for them as well?

These are the teachable moments – when they’re griping and complaining and I have an opportunity to walk them through it in a patient and nurturing way. Instead of snapping at them, shutting them down and obtaining obedience through fear, I need to dig deep and give them the best of me. I shouldn’t be saving that part for laundry or toilets (don’t worry, I’m not) – I should be saving it for my girls.

And teaching THEM how to do laundry and toilets.

Actually, now that I mention it, Cora absolutely adores cleaning toilets. I know what we’re doing for Fun Friday time!


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