For the first time in several years (at least–can’t remember the last time honestly) I am joining in a weekly meme: Jessica’s Plank Pullin’. Hop on over and read hers (which I totally identify with, or would if we actually had people randomly stopping by– in our case we still have all elderly neighbors and my kids are the ones going visiting.)
This week I am fasting from telling the kids to do chores or insisting they do what I ask in general (the fast policy is ask once then let it go–it is not required obedience because I am asking not insisting). They are 13, 11, and 9. They know how the house runs. There have been nightly fights since we instituted the “kids are in charge of the dishes” rule 6 months ago and I have had enough as have they–thus the fast (which may extend to all the time–usually my character fasts do in the end).
The problem is, my attitude about it stinks, as does theirs. I can’t fix theirs but I CAN fix mine, which is where this week’s plank pullin’ comes in.
We have been doing pretty well– I had been making sure I asked for help only when the kids weren’t actively busy with something. So if I said, “Hey, could someone run down and check the laundry” someone usually would. But last night my attitude with a healthy dose of hormones reared its ugly head and when you live in a house with pre-/teen girls, THEIR hormones are also raging.
We had spent all day out shopping– the exhausting sort– and I was exhausted, wiped out, and REALLY didn’t want to do dishes.
See, growing up my parents didn’t get a dishwasher until I moved out– why should they when my brother and I made perfectly good dishwashers. They got it when I moved out because my middle brother was busy with all sorts of after school activities and was never home to DO dishes, my other brother being a baby. I’m not bitter. So I grew up hating doing dishes even though when my brother helped it was kind of fun. Despite how we acted around our parents we really enjoyed each other’s company and made doing dishes fun. The result of this is I hate doing dishes but don’t mind so much if it gives me a chance to hang out with someone.
When I asked for help last night everyone decided they would rather do something else. So I sobbed into the soapy water instead of yelling (because if I am on a fast and call it that then I rememberand I refused to yell–though BOY was it tempting.) This led to a big wet, whiny talk with God about how I hated doing dishes alone and why was I the one who had to pick up all the slack and do all the extra work that needs done and how the kids know my love language is service and not one of them could be bothered to even offer to help and waaaaaaaahhhh.
Now remember, part of this experiment is that I want my kids to get a better attitude about work and not go about bossing each other and to quit looking at work as something to be avoided and foisted off on others. Here I was whining about how I wanted my kids to come in and naturally offer to help without even being asked and that they wouldn’t even do it if I asked gently. Meanwhile God often has to kick me in the rear (or shut down my computer) to get me going in the proper direction even though I should know what He wants me to do (I do have a conscience and the Holy Spirit uses it liberally) and even when He straight out asks I tend to balk. So my love language is service and here I am whining about serving because I want others to serve me instead meanwhile I don’t pay near enough attention to the service that God is asking me to do. Hmmm. Big ol’ plank there.
And then, after all my whining and fussing I realized there really weren’t that many dishes after all (a little over a sink full) and suddenly I was done and I remembered that doing dishes isn’t really that bad and I was just really pulling the same stunt as my kids (why do I have to be the one to do it, why can’t someone else.)
A few minutes later, though still disappointed in my kids, my attitude had recovered. I walked into the office and my boy ran up to me and said, “I know I didn’t help with the dishes but look, I cleaned up your desk for you!” And he did, my desk looked really nice (and everything was where I usually put it so I could find it– and yes, it did make me feel loved–I have a very silly heart. :)) A few minutes later Rach asked, “Didn’t anyone help you with the dishes?” I replied that no one had and why would she expect someone else to if she wouldn’t (okay, a bit of attitude lingering but her younger sister is the one who usually steps in and helps and Rach knows it).
Obviously I have some personal heart issues/attitude to address before I attempt to address those in my children. So I consider it temporarily adjusted– I know I will have more adjusting to do but that is really what a fast is usually about (for me anyway) and fasts tend to bring out the big heart issues God wants to work on right now and this one is a doozy.