Growing responsibility

Sylvia has been six for a month now and when she hit that milestone, she started asking me for responsibilities.

At first, it was fun. And I then realized she wasn’t going to get bored and quit. She gets up and makes her bed. She asks to be in the kitchen making supper. She runs to help.

Liam caught on and started suddenly really beginning to pitch into the team effort that is our family. The day he went to the basement to carry the laundry up and start folding it on his own, I was hit with the realization that my kids are growing up. And fast.

I’ve said for years that I didn’t want to lose focus of my goal of raising my children to be independent and competent. I don’t want them to not know how to do simple tasks and think that mom will always be there to do everything. But do you know what? Teaching them to be independent is exhausting! It takes me forever to make a meal at supper because of the helpers. And my laundry is no longer folded neatly. But they have ownership over these chores and I think we are making a lasting difference.

Today, I gave each child a responsibility at the grocery and somehow, we still forgot the broccoli. So back in we trekked. And because I was going to pay with cash, I made Liam ring it out and pay for it. He doesn’t comprehend money very well, so it was slow. Very, very slow. But we did it. And we figured out the change. As he was putting the money into the self check out, a lady stopped to tell me I was doing a good job.

So here we are. My little people are growing up and I’m working hard to keep up with them. It’s scary and exciting at the same time. Trying to build little lives that will eventually go out and impact other lives happened so much faster than I thought it would! They were babies for so long and then suddenly, they weren’t.

I wonder what this summer will bring for us? Growth for sure, but I wonder how. I’ve been pondering how to change their chores to something they can be proud of and perhaps this is the ticket. Laundry and dinner prep. It’s how I started really contributing to the family at this age… so what works for mom works for the kids? Maybe? How do your kiddos help out around the house?

On commitment and frustration

I made a hard decision last week. I did not like making said decision, but I know in the long run, it’s the right one.

How do we teach our children to persevere when we are all exhausted? How do we tell them that sometimes, the right thing is to quit?

I was not allowed to quit anything as a child. The only time I did was when my parents weren’t able to financially support the activity any longer. So when I started college and began loading up my plate, I over loaded it and committed. And committed. And committed. As an adult, I’ve continued my habit of over committing and then spending my free time bemoaning these commitments.

Last week, a heart-to-heart with my doctor said I needed to start taking things off my calendar. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had that conversation, but things were scary for me health-wise. So I’ve been working on my own commitments and while I was at it, I took stock in what the kids are doing. In so doing, I realized Liam was over committed.

It broke my heart to realize I had done this to him.  I know mothers are supposed to make mistakes and that I am human, but I was so frustrated with myself for  continuing the you-will-not-quit-mid-semester attitude and forcing him to continue with guitar lessons even though he was clearly burnt out. No one should have to have a fight with their 7 year old over practicing. Nope.

So I sent an email and made a phone call. It was uncomfortable for me. Not because we were ducking out, but because we were ducking out during the school year. And in that moment, as I read a very gracious email from his teacher, I realized that I’m still breaking the patterns of my childhood.

It’s not a bad thing, but I feel like the longer I parent, and homeschool in particular, I’m learning things that I shouldn’t repeat. I know there are loads of parenting books with “answers”, but he’s my child. And no matter how fussy I am about quitting, I should have realized that he was done and drawn the line.

So here we are. Mom learned a lesson. And Liam did too. He needed to learn how to express himself minus the anger and frustration. And when HE is ready to commit again, we will try it. But this time, I won’t set myself up for failure.