Before we fall asleep at night my husband and I often have laugh sessions over things our daughters do or don’t do. The topic of conversation a few nights ago was over their bathroom trash.
Late afternoon my husband had emptied their trash as he was gathering garbage to take out to the curb for pick up. He left the top off the trash bin in their bathroom and went to get a new liner for it. When he was on his way back to put the liner in and put the bin back together the phone rang. So he just threw the liner in the doorway of the bathroom and there it sat.
I noticed it several times as I walked by that evening and it never changed. I assumed at one point one of my daughters had used the bathroom before they went to bed, but there sat the liner and the disassembled trash bin. I didn’t fix it because my teenagers are perfectly capable of putting a trash bin to rights.
When I went to bed, I wasn’t sure if they ever did it; thus, the topic of my husband’s and my laughter that evening. It was done in the morning, so one of them must’ve put it all back together when they got ready for bed.
However, it wouldn’t have surprised me if it still had been disassembled when I got up that morning, because sometimes they just don’t think about things like that. When something is out of place in the house and would require effort to put it right, they don’t see it. Whether they don’t see it because they don’t want to see it or they just accept it as a fact of life, I don’t know.
I put up with a lot of things out of place because I feel they should take care of it; especially if it’s out of place because of them. But I’ve been living with them all their lives and I’m not sure it will ever change. Sure, I can put it right immediately, but I feel they need to learn how to be productive members of our household. Sometimes, if they are within hollering distance, I’ll tell them to come fix it.
Most of the time, when I see something is not picked up from one of their messes, I’ll walk by and glare at the object. I refuse to take care of it because they are used to me doing everything for them and I want them to get to that place in their psyches where they might think of taking responsibility for something that requires effort.
When the object of my objection doesn’t move on its own, I go through something akin to the grief process. The first stage is denial: “Oh no you didn’t girlfriend!” They didn’t really leave that there, leave that open, didn’t take care of it AGAIN, did they?
The next stage is anger: They have no respect for how hard I work to keep a tidy house for them. So they must have no respect for me. They should be thankful to even have that pillow they threw on the floor, the bread they left open to dry out, the dish on the counter they couldn’t even bend over and put in the dishwasher!
The third stage is bargaining: Maybe if I make an extra nice dinner and do the dishes every school night, they’ll see the object on the floor and feel guilty for making me do extra work.
The fourth stage is depression: I can’t believe I raised daughters who don’t even care about how the house looks. Where did I go wrong; I need a snack.
Finally comes acceptance: They are never going to pick that up, I guess I’ll just do it so I can stop looking at it and stop thinking about it.
By the time I pick up the object myself, several days have passed. I realize I could have saved myself a lot of energy if I had just picked it up in the first place. But I’m a stay-at-home mom, what else do I have to do?
Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is committed to writing about the humor amidst the chaos of a family. You can read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website livingwithgleigh.com.