“You’re not raising children; you’re raising adults.” Those words, shared by my friend Elena, have rippled through me since she said them to me last summer. I’m sure I was feeling guilty about taking away my childrens’ childhood moments by making them do chores. She was the one who rightfully explained that if we didn’t start teaching our kids what a hard day’s work means, they certainly wouldn’t be able to do it for a paycheck later on in life.
I’m still guilty of doing WAY too much for my children. There’s no question about that. (And my mother kindly reminds me on a regular basis – especially when she sees their bedrooms in their standard state of disarray.) But I’m getting better at it. Much better, especially with Rick’s extensive travel schedule.
With Rick on the road as often as he’s been, I’ve found myself collapsing into bed each night. I’d get the kids to school, push through a full day’s worth of work, try to fit in some exercise, get homework done with them, make dinner, clean the house, tuck them into bed, and inevitably run back up and down the stairs getting them a glass of water; bringing up the laundry; returning various and sundry toys to their appropriate locations.
And finally, thanks to Elena’s sage advice, I started delegating THEIR lives back to them. I realized that the work I’m sending them to do isn’t MY work. It’s theirs. Their messes; their wishes; their contributions to being members of this family. With our son now 13 years old, he’s also more capable of handling some of the hardcore physical work that I would do on my own. Now, I’m not sending the kid out to plow fields. But every once in a while, plowing a vegetable garden isn’t exactly out of the question.
So today, I discovered that my adult-in-training not only was MORE than capable of doing a stellar job of weeding and preparing vegetable beds. He also enjoyed it. Thoroughly. He brought out his iPod Touch and his portable speakers, cranked up his retro-80’s-Guitar-Hero-inspired playlist, and actually had FUN weeding, removing topsoil, and preparing our garden for planting.
No question I’ve underestimated these sweet children of mine. They’ll be seeing more work from me this summer. But in the long run I know I’m doing THEM a favor, by helping them become the kind of adults that they’ll be proud to see smiling back in the mirror.