You want me to give up what?!

‘Tis the season. No, not Christmas. Lent! This time before Easter is actually one of my favorites. It marks the beginning of the holiest time in the church. According to Wikipedia, the traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, atonement and self-denial. Sounds fun, right?

lent

Actually, I find Lent to be the most spiritual time for me because it is one where I give up something I love for 40 days (not including Sundays) and really try to focus on what God gave up for us.

This past Sunday, my little one was sick so Daddy stayed home and my oldest and I ventured out to church by ourselves. At breakfast, after church, we had a discussion about what Lent really is meant to be. She is starting to understand what it means now that she’s older. I loved this conversation. I was filled with joy and feeling wonderful that we were connecting. I was so overcome with happiness that I decided that it would be a fantastic idea if we got to pick for each other what we would sacrifice this season of Lent.

I went first. I chose for Maddie to give up junk food. She’s a great eater. She will eat whatever I put in front of her with little complaint. Everything from baked fish to boiled kale. But if she is given the choice between chocolate and kale, like any child, she is choosing chocolate. I really wanted her to take some time to cut the junk out and to understand what it feels like to eat healthy all the time. This felt like a huge victory for me. What was she going to do? Say no to God! Nope! Mommy – 1; Maddie – 0

She contemplated this for a while as she picked at her cheese omelette and bacon. Then she planned everything she was going to eat in the next three days to satisfy her junk food cravings until Easter.

Her turn. She looked at me thoughtfully and asked, “So, it has to be something you really love?” “Yes,” I replied. “Great. I want you to give up Netflix,” she said with the biggest grin ever.

“Ummm…well, see, umm…” I was literally stammering. I had no response. She couldn’t possibly be serious. Netflix? 40 days plus Sundays without Netflix?? I still have 28 episodes of Friends to watch. What will happen if I can’t watch the rest? Mommy – 0; Maddie – 1

This was the moment I actually stopped and listened to the crazy that was running through my head.

Here was my child, engaged in a meaningful discussion about God, Christ, Lent, and sacrifice and I was actually almost panicking because I couldn’t watch the rest of a television show that I actually watched in its entirety when it was actually on television.

This was the moment I realized that I was in a place to teach my child something. I was in a place to do something I didn’t want to do and to do it anyway because it is the least I can do for God who made the ultimate sacrifice for me.

So, I did the grown up thing. I told her yes. I would give up Netflix. So, now as I sit here and type, I’m listening to a podcast from Joyce Meyer. I would normally be watching Netflix as I work. To tell you the truth, so far, I’m not missing it. Granted, it’s been only 3 hours but I’ll take small victories.

The bigger victory at the end of the 40 days will not be that I taught my child by using words about sacrifice and Lent but that I was able to show her the love of Christ through my actions. And, finally, the biggest victory will be knowing in my heart the meaning of true sacrifice. Not Netflix or candy, but what God sacrificed.

Say it with me: For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

At the end of Lent, the math will look like this: Mommy – 1 + Maddie – 1 = God – 2

Amen.

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The Best Worst Valentine’s Day Card…..EVER!

My beautiful Jane made me a Valentine’s Day Card. So thoughtful. So caring. So wrong, in so many ways. Let’s break it down, shall we.

The Cover:

valentine1

We’re off to a great start. She wants me to have a happy Valentine’s Day and I got two hearts…not one.

Fantastic.

valentine2

The first line is fabulous. She thinks I’m a dear mother. The second line, however; is better than the first. She is thanking me for giving her life. “I am happy that I am born.” Next line: “I liked the movie.” This one means the most to me because she should be grateful that I spent 2 hours sitting through Spongebob.

Moving on…”and I wish I could get a Valentine but no one makes me one. Happy Valentine’s Day. Love, Jane.”

Really, really? My child used my card to express her irritation that I didn’t make her a Valentine. Nevermind the clothes from Justice, the stuffed animals and the candy. And the fact that her sister made her one and she got 18 of them yesterday from her classmates.

The back cover:

Are you ready for the kicker? The best worst part of this Valentine’s Day card.

valentine3

She drew a picture of me handing out Valentine’s Day cards with the caption “Here Kevin, Here Maddie.” Do you notice what’s missing? Her name! She drew a picture of me handing out Valentines to everyone but her.

Despite the not so passive aggressive undertones of this Valentine. I know she loves me and the fact that she spent any time making me a card warms my heart and I get the added bonus of being able to hold this over her head for years to come.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Mommy’s Not Cleaning It: Recap of Day 2

Good morning! Day 2 started like any other. Kevin and I worked out and Jane was the first of the children to wake up. She gets dressed and heads downstairs. But, wait! What is she carrying? In her hands was the giant box of goldfish and a box of graham crackers. This was it. I could feel it. I was certain she was going to ask what the two boxes were doing on the floor of her bedroom.

She puts them on the couch, stares at me with those big, blue eyes and asks, “Can I have some Cheerios with milk?” Then she proceeds to turn the television on and eat the goldfish!Jane with the goldfish

Oh, well. Maybe later she will realize. Back to my day. I went about my chores. As I was unloading the clean dishes and then loading the dirty ones into the dishwasher I realized one of the great benefits of my experiment is that there are less dishes to be done because they are all laying on the floors of my messy children.

Maddie came down as usual and fixed herself some Cheerios with bananas. She left the banana peel and the empty cheerio box on the counter. Ok, I admit that as she was making her breakfast, I was secretly hoping that she wouldn’t throw the banana peel away. I really wanted to toss it on her floor. Score for Mommy!

We all got ready to leave for school and the questions began. They all started with, “Where is_______?” (Insert any item here: shoes, bookbag, jacket, kindle, etc) They couldn’t find anything! I always answered the same way. “I don’t know. I haven’t seen it down here.” Snicker, snicker.

The girls left for school and I assessed the damage. Here’s what I put in their rooms:

banana peel
2 cereal bowls
plate
fork
deflated balloon
Valentine’s Day cards
books
pencil sharpener
sock
duct tape (really!)
nail polish remover
hair ties
empty cheerio box

The result was this:
maddiesroom
Janesroom

Oh, and the pear was still there:
pearunderpillow

Sigh.

We were very busy after school and didn’t get home until 7. The kids never said a word. Not one word. Until, Maddie went to bed. This is how it went:

Maddie: Mommy, this nail polish remover isn’t mine.

Me: Well, you left it out so I thought it must be important to you.

Maddie: Oh. (Silence) Well, what’s this banana peel doing in my room?

Me: Well, you left it out so I put it in your room. Figured you needed it.

Maddie: Really? (with all the snottiness of a full fledged teenager)

Me: Yup.

Maddie: My room needs some serious help.

Jane: Maddie, there’s mac n cheese in my room too.

Me and Kevin: covering our mouths so as not to laugh hysterically

The next 15 minutes were a mix of our explaining to the children what we had done and Maddie screaming and throwing a tantrum swearing she’s not messy and Jane saying, “ok. I’ll clean it tomorrow.”

Maddie was pissed. Pissed with a capital P. She screamed, cried and basically told us that we hated her. Twenty minutes later she apologized and then spent the next hour cleaning her room.

Thank God it’s over. I can’t wait to have my house back in order. We warned them there would be no screen time at all until their rooms were cleaned and we would continue with the process of tossing everything in their rooms if they didn’t learn to throw it away or put it away.

I feel victorious. I know it’s a long road ahead of keeping them on track but I feel like they finally get it. Let’s hope that they not only get it but implement the changes needed.

In the meantime, I’m going to sit back, relax with a cup of coffee and listen to them groan as they make their beds. Groan away children, groan away. Mommy won.

Mommy’s Not Cleaning it: Recap of Day 1

Day 1 is done and there is only one thing to say: WOO-HOO! And here’s why.

My original goal was to not clean anything yesterday but after an hour of sitting in our living room amidst the trash, dirty dishes, stuffed animals and underwear (that’s right, I said underwear), I couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t want to clean up after them but I didn’t want to sit in filth. So, my plan evolved.

I went around the house and picked up everything the kids had left lying around or failed to throw away or didn’t put in the dishwasher and I threw it in their rooms. And when I say threw, I mean threw. Tossed it in and left. Then I shut the door so I didn’t have to look at it.

This was revolutionary for me. I learned so much about myself. For one, I can let go and feel good about it. I don’t need everything to be absolutely perfect to sit down and relax. And two, I get a sick, sick joy from throwing my kids crap in their rooms. It’s so liberating. I no longer feel resentment when I’m cleaning up their stuff and they’re lying around playing their kindles.

So, here’s a breakdown of what I put in their rooms yesterday:

3 spoons
2 forks
3 empty easy mac containers
2 empty easy mac cheese packets
various pieces of crumbled up paper
empty candy wrappers
stuffed animals
dirty clothes
clean clothes that were never put away
underwear that somehow wound up on my couch

When you add it to the stuff that was already all over the floor, we have reached a point where there is little floor left to be seen.

The kids were blissfully unaware that I was doing this. They assumed that when the easy mac containers disappeared, I threw it away like I always did. Wrong, suckers!

When Kevin arrived home, he found me smiling like a fool in the kitchen. I filled him in on my new plan and he eagerly jumped aboard. At the end of the night, he placed the piece de resistance (excuse my french…I can’t figure out how to make the mark above the e’s) in Maddie’s room. She left a half-eaten pear on my nightstand. Really, really?!

So, thanks to my friend Dana’s story about her sister, Kevin decided to put the pear core under Maddie’s pillow before bed.

Then we waited. We couldn’t wait for the kids to come down in disgust after they realized what was in their rooms. We waited and waited and waited. How the hell can you not realize there is a half-eaten pear under your pillow?!

Day 2 begins.

And….I’m done

For the last 10 years, I have devoted my days to taking care of my family. I’m a stay at home mom and a bit of a perfectionist so I’ve really prided myself on getting it all done. I’ve cleaned the house, washed the laundry, dried the laundry, folded the laundry, put away the laundry, done the shopping, cooked and cleaned….all with the help of my husband. He’s a great help and always willing to pitch in.

There have been a few changes in the last 10 years. For one, we had another child. So, life got busier and the mess doubled. Wait, this is Jane we’re talking about. So, the mess quadrupled. We moved to a house twice the size of the one I was used to taking care of and, finally, I’ve started working.

Now, I don’t have a full-time job. In fact, outside of the home, I work around 6 hours a week plus an hour to an hour and a half round-trip commute. Outside of my actual rehearsals, I put in about 6 hours of work getting ready for rehearsals. Not nearly a full-time job but when you add the amount of work I put in keeping the house together, driving the kids to and from activities, homework and volunteering at their school, I’m overwhelmed and out of time.

I need more help than just my husband can give me and, Chewie the ass can’t help me, so that leaves my children. Here comes the part where I feel like a giant ass….my kids don’t do chores. Now, it’s not because they refuse when I ask. It’s because I don’t ask. I know, I know. I can’t stand when they do it the “wrong” way. I know there is no “wrong” way, but I really do think any other way than my way is wrong. I told you I was a giant ass.

Here’s the thing. I’ve reached the point where I don’t care if it’s not my way, I just need help. So, I’ve begun to ask my kids for help. They act like I’m asking them to run a marathon while doing math homework. And then they ask what they’re getting paid! Really?!And this is my fault. I know this is my fault. They’re not used to doing it. I’ve never made them.

So, I’m done. I’m done doing it all and now I’m done letting my kids get away with it. This is what I found around my house this morning. couch

hallway

jane bedroom

maddie
table

Now, it’s not a giant mess but it’s enough of a mess that I don’t have time to do it and they will be irritated when I ask them. So, we’re at the beginning of Day 1 of Mommy isn’t doing it. This is going to take all my willpower not to clean. My ocd will kick in and I will feel I can’t get anything else done until the house is in order but I’m going to fight the urge.

I WON’T CLEAN THEIR MESS!