Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Family Meeting

I just returned from a birthday party for one of Aiden's friends to find a very messy house.  Shoes were all over, lunch plates were on still on the table, a dirty spoon was on the floor and there were random snotty tissues from my bedroom floor all the way back to the very dirty kitchen.  I felt on fire with anger.  Here's why...

Ten minutes prior to my departure with Aiden for the party, I had a quick and joyful family meeting to ask everyone's cooperation with keeping the house picked up since our cleaning woman, Maribel, had been here the day before.  I simply reminded everyone that we all love how the house looks after Maribel leaves and I'd love their help to keep it that way.  Calm and direct, just like my new child behavior book claims I need to be.  I stated my expectations, asked for help and felt like one of the cartoon examples of how to approach a problem straight out of the book.  Clearly, I am awesome.

Unfortunately, clearly the rest of my family is not.  I had left Alex with Cole and the baby for 3 hours and the house was wrecked.  I am pretty positive Aiden was responsible for the tissue trail, so even though he was with me, he managed to do damage to our plan to keep the house picked up.  I even stepped in a small pile of spit up on the floor of the hallway which I feel confident in saying was from Stella.  What the hell? !?!?

I primarily blame Alex for turning into a child himself when left alone on the weekends for any duration of time.  Not only had he not picked up the lunch dishes and bottle, but he had also taken the kids to Academy to purchase Cole some sort of play shotgun (it comes with shotgun shells and all,).....and also happened to purchase a remote control helicopter which the boys wouldn't even begin to be able to control at this point.  He says it's for the family.  The boxes to this ridiculous toys were all over the dining room table. 
Immediately after I arrived home was the beginning of rest time.  Stella went down for a nap, which immediately erased any trace of annoyance I had at her for spitting on the floor.  Aiden, Cole and Alex laid down on the guest bed to watch Star Wars...because they all felt tired.  Meanwhile, I stormed around, loudly picking up everyone else's stuff.  I wanted to fly "the family's" new helicopter into the ceiling fan and then hit Alex with the toy shotgun.  How could they all lie there while I picked snot covered tissue off the floor and flushed their urine down the toilet....seriously, what is going on with the boys and not flushing?  How can they want to push and pull on every other button and lever but they can't flush the toilet to save their life? 

I felt like my mental picture of my mother when I was young, oh I hate it when that happens.  I felt like a martyr picking everything up while all the boys rested and watched a movie they love. I hated the way I was putting the dishes in the dishwasher so that each time I put another dish in it would clang loudly against another one...hoping one of them would notice my rage and want to come soothe me....pathetic.  I hated that I didn't just walk in to the room where they were, press pause and ask for their help.  That was the mature and healthy thing to do, but instead I mumbled curses about me being a slave, felt sympathy for Aiden and Cole's future wives and plotted about how I would passive aggressively retaliate against Alex.  Oh, so like my mother...and probably a million other wives and mothers around the world. Crap!

They were the ones I was mad at, but I was punishing myself.  Unfortunately I came to this semi-healthy conclusion at the end of my cleaning spree when all the work was done. I feel like I should commend myself for coming to the conclusion at all though, right?  I quickly called family meeting number two for the day and just said I was disappointed, I didn't like doing all the clean up and I wouldn't do it again.  Simple enough, right?  And they were all apologetic and kind.  They were respectful and asked if there was anything else they could do.  Of course they were.  They are my family. 

So why didn't I do that at first? When am I going to mature enough to know that I can't expect something I don't ask for?  When am I going to realize that my kids and husband are going to make a huge freakin mess, often and if that is the worst of my problems then I should drop to my knees and praise the Lord?  Ugh...I hate feeling disappointed in my emotions. 

Honestly, I'll probably do this again. I'll probably do it another 100 times, at least, before my kids are grown and out of my house.  But today, I vow to do better.  I vow to stop and and stay calm. I vow to not clean up if I don't want to clean up, ask for help if I need it and never, ever do work as a way to punish someone else...it seems there has got to be something more fun like shopping or overeating. 

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