I don’t feel like being a responsible human being 90% of the time anymore. It’s hard. None of the kids like me. Nobody cares about what I do unless I don’t do it right. It isn’t fun. Sometimes it’s boring. Often times it isn’t fair and I don’t understand it. It doesn’t make any sense and is totally pointless.
The problem with this is that if I am not the responsible one, no one else is going to be and I for one, cannot live in a house where things that need to be done by a responsible human being, are NOT being done.
Case in point. Saturday morning.
I won’t even start out here claiming that it is my one day to sleep in. I don’t get any days to sleep in because, well, I own cats. I also own a dog, but he doesn’t count because I am pretty sure he can’t tell time like the cats can…he, like me, is unable to sleep through their incessant caterwauling, but rather than trying to do anything to fix it, he just joins in for the ultimate reward of food.
I will claim that on a typical Saturday, I will sometimes go back to bed after I feed the cats, let the dog out, start the pellet stove and let the dog back in. This particular Saturday morning, while letting the dog out however, I nearly stepped in something gross that had missed the cat box. Then, as I was hefting pellets to fill the empty pellet stove (that is supposed to be filled by a kid each night so I don’t HAVE to heft 50lb bags of pellets at 5 a.m. on my old-person back) I noticed three more “missed attempts”. Let me tell you, (because that is the point of this blog…I get to tell you about how nasty and difficult my life is and you don’t have to read it) getting nasty “missed attempts” up off of a pebbled concrete floor is NOT GLAMOROUS WORK! You can’t even drink coffee while you do it. By the time I finished dumping pellets into the stove, yelling at the kitten to stop playing in the poo, slamming the sliding porch door several times, and dropping the lid on the garbage can a couple of times, I do believe I had made enough noise that my husband decided it was not worth the effort to stay in bed, so he hopped in the shower. But not before he lobbed the soiled shower mat out the back door as I was returning from the garbage can…because of another “missed attempt”.
(please note here, my cat is old and is now on medication.)
As I picked up the shower mat on my way back from disposing of the ream of soiled paper toweling, I realized that I had reached that point where it was no longer a question of whether I was going to make this an educational moment for my family, but rather whether or not I was going to be able to keep from spilling blood while I did it.
Since I was so close to having my entire day ruined in the first waking hour, I decided to go whole-hog and imagine what would have happened had I used my children’s usual go-to responses when asked why they didn’t do the right thing. For instance, what if I had ignored the cats because “I was too tired”?
- Realistically here, I am probably the only one in the household who hears them. I don’t know why I wasn’t graced with deafness before 7am like the rest of my family. It isn’t fair.
- They would have destroyed the door at the end of the hall, then made a fair start on the one to our bedroom.
- The dog would have started barking, because EVERYONE knows that caterwauling cats = meal time.
- The cats probably would have starved to death. Because the last time they had eaten was at least SIX WHOLE HOURS AGO.
What if I didn’t fill/start the pellet stove “because it wasn’t my job”?
- It would have been 50 degrees when the first child woke and wandered through the house half naked and the first words loudly issued out of their mouth would be WHY IS IT SO COLD? WHY DIDN’T ANYONE START THE STOVE? And I would have had to kick them with my numb toes. Hard.
- Should one of them actually take it upon themselves to actually try to start the stove, once discovering that the pellet hopper was empty, they would have said something derogatory about the person who was supposed to have filled it…then gone back to bed.
What if I hadn’t cleaned up the cat crap because “it’s gross”?
- Even though I was in bed and (hey, this is fiction, I can dream) still asleep, I would have been informed, probably at a distance of 5 inches from my sleeping fact, that hey, there is cat poop on the floor and that it really smells bad.
- Brainchild would have returned to their room and shut the door to keep the smell out, fully expecting me to do something about it because it was too gross for them to even look at again. They might puke. And then I would be expected to clean that up too.
In fact, let’s keep going with this rant (as I did in reality, not that they were listening to me anymore by this point). As it so happens, I really don’t like to cook. What if I “didn’t feel like” cooking every night? I’m getting pretty tired of the scenery between my house and the pool, the bus stop, the library, etc. What if I decided it was just “too boring” to do anymore? Luckily, I like my job so my income isn’t at risk…but what happens if I act upon the fact that I think my kids aren’t nice to me so why should I be nice to them…Oops! Was that Christmas that just flew out the window?
Seriously, when my child’s response to a bad grade in Literature is that he didn’t enjoy the assignment…What, so, you decided not to do it and thought this was okay?!
Nononononono, you don’t enjoy it, you do it anyway, and move on. Because that is what you do. YOU DO IT. You don’t have to like it. You do it because you are expected to and in return, you are rewarded with a qualifier noting that you took the time, put in the effort, and now we move on!
Or what about, “the assignment was boring”, or “I hate math, it isn’t fair that I have to do it”. Where did my kids get the idea that if you don’t like it, you don’t do it and it’s okay? Where did they pick up the idea that the world revolves around them, what they want, how they feel, etc?
It sure as hell wasn’t from ME!
So, why don’t I just play their game and not drive them to youth group, because the road is not exciting and I’d rather be at home sipping a glass of wine. How about I not cook because I don’t like to? Not treat them nicely because they are mean thankless and rude to me? Not clean up after them because it’s gross? Not do things that need to be done because there are others who are perfectly capable of doing it, even though they won’t because they are thinking THE EXACT SAME THING?
Because I am an adult? Because I am a parent?
No, because I am a responsible human being. I am not a perfect human being, but I strive to be one who does the right thing. In a bible study comment I recently read, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount was basically summarized as the following: Receiving good and giving evil = demonic behavior (ie, your basic bratty kid running on no nap and no manners). Receiving good and giving good in return = basic human behavior (not bad, but not worthy of much beyond a gold star sticker). Receiving bad and still giving good in return = Christ-like behavior.
Now, I am not saying I am Christ-like, I complain WAY too much for that, but I have goals and aspirations to be more like him. Besides, doing good for others can make one feel good; especially if you are appreciated for doing so, or can at least imagine that the person in the car behind you at the Starbucks drive-up window got a smile when they realized their bill was already paid. Doing good for others and knowing they have no idea and will continue to do annoying things that are killing you inside is CRAP.
But, if not you, then who? A vicious circle awaits unless someone introduces the good somewhere. One has to have faith that at some point the evil doer will wake up some day and figure out that that wet towel isn’t hopping up onto the towel rack on its own.Or, they move out…and it is no longer an issue.
So here is what I vow. I will continue to cook, clean, heft, pick up towels, chauffer, and feed demanding cats. I will continue to point out when they are being unrealistically self-centered and rude. In a word, I will continue to be a responsible human being, who happens to have chosen to be a parent and I will look forward to the day, hopefully, when they finally become one too.
Or move out.