My husband appreciates me… When I was in the hospital after giving birth to Joshua, Mike brought our seven other children in to meet their new brother. At that time he said to me in a humorous tone, “I don’t want to be the mom anymore. I just want to go to work.” Even though he did a great job taking care of things in my absence, he let me know that my job was difficult and he appreciated me.
The thing is, though, he might be the only person in this house who knows how much work it is to be the mom. I have always had kind of a fantasy about going on strike so my children would catch a glimpse of how much I do. In my mind, I kind of saw this as a way to inspire them to contribute more willingly and be proactively helpful.
Last week I had one sick child after another that kept waking me up at night. So in my sleep deprived state, I decided to live out this fantasy. In truth it was actually more of a tantrum I was throwing than a lesson I was teaching. And my mental state was so compromised that I didn’t really know what I was doing, let alone tell anyone I was doing it.
And this is how it turned out …
On Friday rather than making breakfast, helping my kids get ready for school, reminding them about prayers, piano practice, chores, brushing teeth, and gathering everybody for family scriptures and prayer, I ignored everybody all morning. I took extra time at the gym, went to the grocery store and then took a long shower. I guess they muddled though the morning with the help of their dad because they all ended up at school. After everyone was gone, I looked around at the mess they had left.
I didn’t do any laundry or any cleaning or any dishes that day. I just sat on the couch watching one episode of Everybody Loves Raymond after another. When my elementary school kids got home, I was still on the couch downstairs watching Netflix. They honestly didn’t seem to mind the mess. They were, however, hungry and asked what they could have for a snack. I told them to fend for themselves because I wasn’t moving.
We had some left-over squishy pretzels I had made on Thursday when I was still a good mom. They began heating those in the microwave. I continued to ignore them all the way until there was a big commotion upstairs and they began yelling “SMOKE!” and “FIRE!” and “HELP!”
At that point I discontinued my strike and ran up the stairs to see smoke pouring out of the microwave. My five year old had put a pretzel in the microwave for so long that it had caught on fire. And sadly, the microwave was a casualty of the whole affair. (BTW it was irreparable… so $220 later we had a brand new microwave.)
I looked around at my traumatized children surrounded by the morning’s mess and thought to myself, “What on earth am I doing?” These are little kids and they are doing the best they can. They had practiced their piano and read scriptures that morning as evidenced by the messy music corner. They had brushed their teeth and tried to brush their hair as evidenced by the messy bathroom. They were trying to be helpful and responsible, but they are only children. It is my job to help them and to teach them and to love them … and as long as I get enough sleep, I think my job is the best one there is.
So I rested my grievances and started the day’s laundry, cleaning and dishes with the help of the kids. As it turns out, I don’t think they gained anything from my strike except an appreciation for how crazy their mother gets when she is tired.
As for me, I lost my microwave, but gained some profound insight … so much so that there won’t be a mom on strike around here again any time soon!