I’ve always endeavored to be the kind of parent who leads by example.
I’m sure that more is ‘caught than taught.’ The hard part of this is that ‘do what I say, not what I do,’ is not going to cut it. I need to model the kind of behaviour I want to see modeled.
Lately I’ve felt quite frustrated when it comes to the house work. It’s just been a ever ending battle, that I seem to be the only one fighting. There is always mess, always dirt, and always poo. (in the bathroom)
Things get left on the floor and forgotten. Towels seem to multiply under beds or in the washing basket (I hate washing towels) and the kitchen bench is never tidy.
And then there is the cat food that Ava strews across the house on an almost daily basis, if the kids don’t put the bowl out of her way, after they have fed Tiger.
I am sick of picking up cat food.
And that’s just inside. Outside the car port is always untidy, the pool always has palm fronds in it, and the lawn is cluttered with neglected bikes, buckets and filled with holes that have been dug up to make mud pits (by children and the dog alike.) It’s enough to make a woman go potty.
Particularly this woman.
This month over at Life on a Hill, we have been talking about the five love languages. My main love language is gifts, but hot on its heels is my secondary language of acts of service. In short (you probably need to head over to LOAH to get all the details), when people don’t help me, not only is the house messy, but I feel unloved. It’s the selfless acts of service from the people close to me, that help me feel appreciated and wanted.
Last week I was feeling decidedly rejected. The house looked disgusting, and I was fighting a one man battle to get things done. I was cranky, and ungrateful for the smallest chores that were done, and getting frustrated by never being thanked for all the things I do around the place.
And I had no idea how to move on.
Friday Morning, I took something into Taylah and Ava’s room, and decided enough was enough. The room was disgusting and needed a complete overhaul, and I was going to do it. It took the better part of three hours, but that room went from looking like this:
Something happened while I cleaned the room. A different kind of transformation. As I discovered countless pairs of underwear, many lone socks and even what appeared to be the beginning of an ants nest centered around what one assumes is the remnants of a piece of bread, I realised it wasn’t just the house that needed cleaning.
It was my attitude.
Yes, acts of service are important to me, and yes my family should realise that and respond accordingly as best they can, but acts is also how I show love, and I had not been loving. I had been fulfilling my responsibilities with a sense of duty and long suffering self centeredness. I wanted people to do things so I didn’t have to. Not out of love or service, but to make my life easier, and to make me happy, but I wasn’t doing the same. My jobs weren’t being done with love; they were being performed with a self righteous bitterness that said ‘if I don’t do it, no one will.’
In short, I was expecting from everyone else, what I was not prepared to give.
So I decided to change. I cleaned Taylah’s room till it sparked, and then I did Bailey and Bridie’s too.
Saturday morning I scrubbed the bathroom till it was clean enough to eat from, because that is Boatman’s favourite thing, and then I tidied the kids toy corners and organized it nicely.
Sunday I mowed the lawn for Boatman, and then cleaned the pool, which freed him up to watch the cricket, and build the kids a new guinea pig/rabbit hutch.
The important thing though, was that I loved it. Everything I did was done because I love the people I did it for. Not because it needed it, not because if I didn’t no one would, but because I knew that it would help them, and make them realise how much I love them.
The house is still not tidy. The bathroom has towels all over the flor again, and the kitchen bench is a mess again. I haven’t even started the ironing.
And thats ok.
I don’t expect the kids to change overnight, or in the cleaning of one room. I need to model the way for them. Show them that true service is showing love in the things you do.
And it starts with me.