Are You A Desperate Housemom?
- Monday, February 07, 2005
ABC's new primetime soap opera, Desperate Housewives, portrays the secret lives of women who are looking for love, bored at home, have unmanageable kids, and cheat on their husbands. I'll save you the trouble of watching the raunchy show by sharing my secrets with you:
My teenagers snarl more than they smile, I've gained five pounds this month, and that old package of bologna in my refrigerator is covered with so much mold it looks like a Chia Pet.
Yes, I, too, am desperate. Should I wear an "I'm Desperate" T-shirt?
Sometimes, when I'm having a really bad day, I wonder is there an underground railroad for escaping overworked housemoms? If I dye my hair and move to Phoenix, how long would it be before they capture me and drag me home? Can you relate?
I'm desperate for people to turn lights off when they leave a room, for a day when soggy towels are not lying on the new carpet -- heckling me -- and for the empty toilet paper roll to be replaced by someone else.
In desperation, I called my married daughter.
"I'm so tired of having to pick up after everyone."
"Mom, the Word of God tells you to 'die to self,'" she replied.
"Don't make me regret sending you to Bible College!" I threatened.
Don't misunderstand me. I love my family. I really do. Except when I have PMS and then I don't like anybody - not even myself. But I get tired - physically and mentally. Last week, I had a nuclear meltdown over the family's participation in housework. As I tackled (yet another) sink full of dirty dishes, I found myself sobbing uncontrollably by the time I reached the crusty lasagna pan at the bottom.
Can you almost hear the Eagle's singing, "Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?" in the background as you're reading this?
So I start to ask myself where did I go wrong? As preschoolers they had chore charts. There's even a chart on the refrigerator now. It's hiding behind the pizza coupons, realtor magnets, and the "happy face" postcard from the dentist that was supposed to remind me "It's teeth-cleaning time," but didn't.
When I ask if everyone has done their chores, naturally they say, "Yes."
"Really?" I trip over batteries and remote control car parts to stand in the sticky spot in front of the refrigerator. Pointing at the chart, I inquire. "Did you do everything on this list?"
"No." They reply in unison.
"We forgot about the list."
"You've been using a chore list for a gazillion years and you forgot you had one?" I ask, trying to stay calm and keep my voice from sounding like a running garbage disposal full of spoons.
"You kids have it so easy. In the olden days, you would have washed your clothes by pounding them with rocks and hanging them on a tree branch to dry. Instead of a power lawn mover, you and your mule would have plowed the back forty. You would have been up at the crack of dawn to milk the cows before you walked 10 miles to school in knee-deep snow." As I look at their smiling faces, I get excited and think they're finally getting it.
Encouraged by their response I continue, "Hard work builds character ..."
My youngest interrupts, "Mom, Mom, Mom."
"Are we going to buy a mule and a cow?"
Where can a desperate housewife go for help?
• First, go to the Lord -- King David was a man desperate for God. Part of his prayer from Psalm 25:4-5 reads Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day. Pray and ask God, "Show me, teach me, and lead me."
• Talk with your husband -- explain how overwhelmed you are. He might not understand, but you'll feel better. He could help with the children and he might even be encouraged to put his dirty laundry in the hamper and not next to it -- but don't hold your breath.
• Have a family meeting -- Let everyone know what results you expect from them. Promise rewards for obedience and serious consequences for disobedience. Then follow through with both.
• Delegate according to ability not according to gender --"Dishes are a girl's job." Jeremy once complained.
"Not at this house." I reminded him. "Because of that remark, you can be on dish duty all week."
You'll do your son's future wife a favor if you teach him to keep house. It won't make him a sissy; it will make him a "real man."
• Don't do anything for your kids they can do themselves. Someone told me this when my kids were very young, and I was thrilled when my children reached each milestone: dressing themselves, cleaning up after themselves, feeding themselves, and doing their own laundry. I instructed them and stood back so they could become self-sufficient. While visiting one day, my mother started to fix my 3-year-old's feeble attempt at bed making. "Don't Mom, it's fine. She'll get better." I told her. Now that she's 21, Ashley makes a bed an Army sergeant would be proud of.
Just remember, as far as chores are concerned, our job as a mother is to teach ourselves out of a job.
My favorite Chore Chart for younger kids: Choreganizers By: Jennifer Steward
Tonya Ruiz is a popular conference speaker. She is also a pastor's wife, homeschooling mom, and grandmother who calls Southern California home. To find out more: www.TonyaRuiz.com.
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