I can't even
remember what the request was. Probably something simple, like, "Put your shoes
away," or "Why don't you grab that book you want me to read to you?" But that
was not the response I was expecting.
From my 4-year-old son.
After I picked
my mouth up from the ground, it really made me think. Do I yell out "I'm not
the maid around here!" too often? (Yes.) Does he think that this makes me the
maid of the house? (Yes.) Does any of this matter? (Yes.)
told him that no one in this house was the maid and that, if we wanted
something, we went and got it for ourselves. He happily went off to retrieve
what he wanted, but his silly comment made me think.
about teaching my kid to be more self-sufficient (um, pick it up yourself!) and
also how to be thankful (didn't his pre-school start their unit on Thanksgiving
But then I
realized: I may be acting like the maid more often than I admit to myself. What
mom hasn't been on the floor, putting on socks and tying laces? What mom hasn't
cleared the dinner dishes herself, thinking it's easier than asking a kid who was
likely to break a dish? What mom hasn't responded to a call of, "I'm thirsty!" with a cold glass of water for
And then it
hit me: I am the maid.
In my house, my husband helps a lot. He takes out the garbage, he unloads the dishwasher, he
changes the air filters, he … you get the idea. Despite how much he does, I
take the lead on most household chores. While my husband is the intrepid
soldier, I am still the General of the Army.
When a glass
of lemonade spills on the kitchen floor, I'm the one who mops it up. When there
are grass stains on the good holiday pants, I'm the one who gets them out. When
it's time to go to sports, I'm the one who gets the uniforms and equipment
But that was
about to end.
with the mornings: I let the kids get ready for school by themselves. They picked
out their own clothing, they got their school bags ready to go. When
they got home from school, there were new rules: they were responsible for
putting their shoes and socks away, as well as their jackets and backpacks.
Toys? Put them away or you won't be able to play with them the next day. Mommy
may have been the designated "finder of lost things" in the past, but those
days were over. You take care of your own stuff.
The kids started
helping me get dinner on the table in the evenings, then helping me clean up the
family room and playroom. They now know that certain things are their
responsibilities and that I won't do it for them, no matter how much they ask.
(My 4-year-old has recently learned to add "pretty please with a cherry on top" to his requests. That makes it
really hard to say no.)
My husband and
I were both raised to be entirely self-sufficient and independent. And now we
want the same thing for our kids.
I want my kids
to rely on themselves. To know that when they want something, they can get it
on their own. They can do it on their own. There's pride in that. And that's
something I want to instill in them.
But I also
want them to be thankful. When they scoff at a dinner I've prepared, I talk to them about how lucky we are
to have food on the table each night. When they grumble about cleaning up their
toys, we have a talk about how lucky they are to have toys to clean up.
to be self-sufficient, and it's also important to be thankful for what you
have. To thank someone when they do something for you.
So, in my house, no one
is the maid of anyone else. We can all pick up after ourselves, thank you very
much, and we're all grateful that we have stuff to pick up, grateful that we
have a roof over our heads, food on the table, grateful that we have each