Today, the beginning of a new year came with a much anticipated closet and a recovered office which had been sacrificed for a son who needed solitude. Neither of those sound like amazing feats, but when I’ve done without for a long time they’ve put strain on my ability to clean and remain sane.
What does that have to do with parenting? Everything. Today I talked to my kiddos about work being a practice of love. If love is a verb then it’s reasonable to ask; did you love me when you did the dishes? Does the job you completed say so in the way it was done? Or does it say something a little more mean, like you are not worth the time to do this right?
My oldest RAD child took the talk the hardest. He has the assignment to clean the downstairs family room. Today it was covered in sleeping bags, discarded after a fun Christmas trip and ignored toys that are just not as fun as the new ones recently aquired. He reported the job was complete so we went to look at it together. The sleeping bags and toys had been shoved to one side, that was all. I refrained from the words I wanted to say to him and instead asked him to try to look at this one job as a chance to practice loving the family.
He tossed the sleeping bags, unrolled into the storage room and reported a complete job again. We went around 4 times in love-less circles before I dismissed him. I completed the job. We returned together to look at the vacuumed floor, wiped couches, organized toys, and sleeping bags rolled and stowed on the top shelf in the storage room. (While this is more than I expect him to do, it made a nice point). I pointed to the bags sitting in their place and asked him, “What would it feel like if you came down here to see that your wife had to just do what I had done after you didn’t finish the job?” he started crying. So I continued. “What would you feel like right now if you’d done this job and I had the chance to complement you instead of this?”
He took a moment and presented me with a powerful concept. “I would feel as much good as I feel bad right now.” Exactly. “I don’t want my wife to feel that I don’t like her that much.” Yep.
Work creates proportionally the same happiness or sorrow as we use it to demonstrate respect and love. He went on to clean the bathroom perfectly.
So back to the closet. My husband built me a closet and I arranged me a place of sanity where I can run the family. I feel loved. And I showed love today by making plans in a peaceful place with each of my children. Happy New Year.
PS, I also stepped on a tack and bled all over the floor… Just so you don’t think life was rosy today….