Chores. ‘Do your chores.’ ‘Have you done your chores yet?’ ‘You can’t go until you do your chores.’ Please tell me I’m not the only mother that dreads chores – not so much the doing them, but getting the children to do them. I have 4 that do significant chores in my home, or at least are supposed to. Another does small chores, then 2 littles help out. My little ones always get great big thank yous from me for their small contributions – matching socks, bringing me a diaper, picking up toys. They love to help me, so I love to thank them, which makes them want to help me more, and the wonderful, fulfilled cycle of gratitude continues. I don’t expect much from them, and they nearly always exceed my expectations. I’m happy; they’re happy.
Then there’s my oldest. He has the heaviest load of chores, but he gets the most grief and least thanks from me. He’s also the least enthusiastic about helping and perhaps the worst worker. I don’t blame him. If I went to work and my boss pointed out all the spots I missed and nagged me incessantly about my work, with llittle sign of gratitude, I’d feel a bit demoralized and probably roll my eyes. I have huge expectations for him, in the quantity and quality of his chores. And because I don’t show my appreciation, it just seems too much for him, so why should he try to do well? After all, it’s not his job to keep the house clean, it’s mine. He’s doing me a favor. Sure, it’s teaching him life skills and how to obey, but the responsibility is ultimately mine. While I’m not advocating a trophy for mediocrity, I think appreciation can be one of the greatest motivators to encourage a child to do a job well done.
As I was finishing up the dishes that #1 and #2 were supposed to have done, it occurred to me that I would have to do all the dishes all by myself if it wasn’t for them. I would have to keep our entire house clean and maintained alone if it wasn’t for chores, and my children completing them. I was feeling grateful. Yet what do I do, day after day? Grumble, complain, nag, reprimand, and correct, because they don’t the job as well as an adult – no, not an adult, as well as I dream they should be done. Even I slack off and do jobs halfway. Do I really expect my children to do a better job than me, especially if I’m their example? Every ounce of their help makes a difference. Sure, I say thank you every once in a while, but certainly not as often as I could or should. I am so grateful for all the help, when I think about it, when I realize the gift. And my children don’t know it. Yet.
Today I’ll be telling each of them thank you, not just for chores. Chores are a drop in the bucket. Thank you for you. Thank you for your smiles and laughter, your silliness and fun, for the pretty pictures and picked wildflowers, for reminding me how to play. Thank you for your love and compassion, for your inquisitive and creative minds, for the unique personality that is YOU! I’m so glad to call you son, to call you daughter. I’m so grateful to get the privilege of raising you. Thank you, God, for loaning me Your children for a time. Please help me to treat them the way You treat me.
And while I’m at it God, thank You for my life. . . for rainbows, for laughter and puddles; thank You for pizza and messy faces, warm hugs and cuddles, for sunblock and peaches and brooms and baby wipes; thank You for these 8 darlings that light up my life. Mostly though God, I’m grateful for You.
I guess I’m getting in the mood for Thanksgiving. Everyday is a day of thanksgiving.