This week, the Boy has been at a special Boy Scout camp. The Girl and my husband ran away to the mountain, much to my jealousy and pseudo-loneliness. The day before they were going to leave, Pat asked me, “What are you going to do while we are gone?”
“Scrub the house.”
As much as I wish that I was the opposite, I am not the best person for self-discipline. Even now, I should be doing some chore or doing something that has to do with work or enriching my mind. But, no, I am alternating between playing a game, watching Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta, and writing. Now, writing is wonderful and I love it. But, I am not writing a dissertation on feminine identity as based on the wedding dress or writing poetry that is a social commentary. No, I’m just writing. For fun. While ladies critique another woman’s wedding dress for being too fluffy.
Damn…fluffiness is evil.
But, yes, my husband and daughter ran away and instead of cooping myself up in my recliner and devoting hours to silly computer games (which are so seductive), I scrubbed. And scrubbed. And scrubbed some more.
I rented a carpet cleaner from Lowes. Loved it. Hated it. Because I realized how much debris was left behind by my well-meaning but apparently not sucky enough (pun there) Dyson vacuum cleaner. I thought my wonderful little vacuum was excellent and picked up just about everything. According to the carpet cleaning machine….nope. So much debris. So much nasty little leftovers.
Clumps of hair. Animal hair. Human hair. Hair. Doesn’t matter how the proteins and chromosomes add up. Clumps of hair. Picked up by the carpet cleaner. After I had vacuumed.
I invaded the Boy’s room. Since he’s not here, I felt free to breach the door that he had left open and clean his carpet.
The general rule of the house is no food in the kids’ rooms. My husband eats upstairs in our bedroom all the time. The kids are not supposed to. I found an empty box of Girl Scout cookies in the Boy’s room. I found candy wrappers in the Girl’s room.
As I pulled the wrappers and box out of tiny corners or out from under the bed, I felt the luscious surge of anger. How could they? How could they be so disrespectful to their loving, self-sacrificial (vomit) mother who gives everything to them? for them?
Yeah. I was really furious. I really was furious.
And I thought about how the hell I was going to punish them to show them that betraying their mother and her trust and her loving self-righteousness (gross) was completely inappropriate.
As the anger steadily leaked out of my system and I realized, more and more, that I really didn’t care given I wasn’t dealing with roaches, mice, or ants, I also realized that punishing the kids wasn’t going to achieve anything.
Yeah. They broke the rules. Yeah, they were wrong and that they needed to be reminded that Mom and Dad’s rules serve a greater purpose than just making them learn lesson or be uncomfortable or be reminded that authorities and adults earn privileges that children have not. And I’m okay with the children learning this lesson.
But I realized that the time I was devoting to getting my emotions all gnarled up so I could satisfactorily discipline my children was doing nothing more than exacerbating emotions that were being falsely heightened.
I was choosing to be upset. I had a right to be unhappy with the kids. I had a right to remind them that there were reasons to the rules. But I didn’t need to approach it with the ferocity that I was feeling. So I released the anger. And realized that my invading their space and disrupting their [lack-of] organization system might be punishment enough. The fear in my daughter’s face as we continued to sort through the room was humbling and un-nerving and satisfying. She was embarrassed over being caught (good) and was worried about how I was going to react (good, I think).
But what was more satisfying was the hugs I received at the end of the day from my daughter when she the cleanliness of her room, at the order that has been placed upon the disorder that was originally dictating her life.
We reached a compromise without my attempting. But we were both happy. She understands the rules a little better (I took pictures of the dirty water I was dumping out of the collection tank). I…just relaxed.
I have more dirt to scrub out. I will always have more dirt to scrub out. But I will not always have my beautiful children living in my home, under my room. I still don’t want candy upstairs in their rooms, but I also see more…I don’t know. That maybe Kit-Kat wrappers under my daughter’s bed isn’t such a travesty after all.
Note, I broke my own rule with my daughter. I brought up popsicles to her room while we cleaned. We toasted each other, giggled, and ate coconut popsicles on her white carpet. And it was awesome!