I’ll be honest – I know that part of my parenting duty is to teach my children how to do the housework required to not live in filth.
And, I admit, that having help around the house makes my life a lot easier.
But my problem is the process of moving from no help toward good help. Because in this stage it is often A LOT easier to just do things myself.
Part of this is just my personality–I see plenty of other parents patient with and amused by their little helpers. They smile encouragingly and laugh and enjoy themselves as the kiddos stumbles through.
Me? I’m in a hurry. I’m not proud of it, but the first step is recognizing the problem, right?
My youngest, in particular, wants to help SO BAD with everything from dishes and laundry to vacuuming and mopping and this is a good thing that should be encouraged. So I grit my teeth and roll up my sleeves and get down to business.
(Before you judge me too harshly, I *think* I’m only gritting my teeth on the inside.)
So yesterday Avery and I are doing the dishes together. She slowly puts away silverware item by item while I rush to stack the plates and towel dry the plastic cups that didn’t quite dry on the top rack. And it occurs to me how nice it is to be a grandparent. Surely you’ve noticed how grandparents delight in a child’s slowness? The kids want to stir the batter all by themselves? Sure! They want to operate the vacuum that’s taller than they are? Go ahead, sweet child! Or maybe the kids are making a bigger mess that they originally set out to clean up. Grandparents are charmed.
What a luxury to appreciate the learning process at the expense of the final product!
Avery was enjoying herself so much. She was done with the silverware and wanted a turn at drying and I had a choice. I could finish quickly on my own, or I could hand her the towel, let her have at it, and appreciate that I’m not so starved for time that I can’t allow this moment. Or all the other moments where my first instinct is to rush through.
I don’t always choose to slow down to my kids’ pace, but I like to think I’m always getting better. A few years ago I realized how often I yell, “hurry up” in the mornings, and with very little conscious effort, I’ve practically banished that phrase from my vocabulary. Now I’m becoming more aware of how often I answer “Can I help?” with “Not right now.” (Spoiler: Too often for my taste!)
My lesson of the day: Time is about as abundant as we think it is. I think the grandparents understand this better now that they’re no longer in the muddle of it all. And it’s something that many of us have read books and blogs about, something that we think we know, but maybe we don’t quite believe it yet, when we’re in the midst of To Do Lists and Deadlines. I know I have a ways to go as I grow these kiddos into adults. But I’m also getting a little closer every day.