Her ballet class had been cancelled, and there was no homework. We had an afternoon that wasn’t defined by a dizzying pace of here to there and back again. A first in weeks. But our home was filthy. Regardless of how many times I douse toilets in bleach, mildew creeps back.
One of Ella’s best friends was to spend the night in just a few days. With no time to clean between our free afternoon and her friend’s arrival, I knew what had to be done.
I gritted my teeth.
Because I knew. I knew the stomping and the sighing and the eye rolling would begin.
But we had to clean. It was a Thursday afternoon, and we had a window of time so tiny, fairies might miss it. I handed my Cinderella—I mean Ella—the bathroom cleaners and told her to have a marvelous time.
Sweet Heavens she was mad.
I got it. I understood. Cleaning house was the last thing I wanted to do, too.
I hated the idea I’d stripped away her only afternoon of freedom. The guilt crept and lurked where it didn’t belong. Was I a bad mom because I made her help me clean the house? She deserved some time off—she works so hard. Other moms probably wouldn’t be as mean as I was.
Maybe you’re even thinking I was harsh. Give the kid some time off. Right? Especially since I handed her a dust cloth when she finished her bathroom. And I made her redust a few things because she only did any of it halfway.
Goodness, my girl can rant and rave louder with her body language than her voice.
But if there’s one mantra in our home it’s this – We’re a Team. All of us work together when there are chores to be done. Even her five-year old brother has his age appropriate tasks. If her Daddy had been home, he would have pitched in too. It’s part of our core family belief system.
And honestly? Cleaning the house was for her. I would have waited until Saturday afternoon if that wasn’t when her friend was due to arrive.
So why did I feel guilty?
Because children will always know how to push back. It’s human nature to manipulate. If our kids can moan their way out of chores and rules, they will. They make us question our resolve, question our core parenting values, question our guidelines.
In those moments? In the times when I’m making the tough decision to bear the anger of my children? I remember the why—why it’s vital to dig in, get my hands dirty with the hard work of being a parent.
Because requiring my children to help is always about more than just a clean house.
Because if I’m not the parent, I open the door for anyone to tell my children what they should value.
Because if I waiver, they learn they can give up when life gets angry.
Because if I don’t set boundaries, crossing the line become an afterthought.
Because I want my son and daughter to know one day there will be other authority figures they need to listen to and respect.
Because I am desperate to raise children who will be a better adult than me.
Because I pray they take responsibility for who they are and what they do.
Because a thousand other reasons I can’t back down in the face of my angry kids.
But it’s painful to stand your ground when your children are wielding swords with their words. Our hearts can rip and shred even when we know we’re doing what’s best. And who ever imagined what’s best is what hurts most?
You’re not alone courageous mom.
Stand your ground.
I’ll stand with you.