Let me paint a picture for moms of teens everywhere that is probably going to sound a bit familiar: Last night after my son mowed the lawn–something he loves doing because we have a riding mower, he grabs a Gatorade and listens to music–I asked him to empty the dishwasher. My other two kids were folding laundry.
I was sitting on the sofa finishing up some research for an article; I’d worked all day, vacuumed, caught up on the laundry my kids were folding, picked them all up from school, got my daughter to lacrosse, made them dinner, and then some– you know how it goes.
I was spent, and exhausted as we all are at the end of the day, but this isn’t why I asked them (like 5 times) to do these chores. This is what they do daily or weekly regardless of how tired their mother is. It’s how they are able to have cellphones; they do jobs around the house, and the bill gets paid. This was an agreement we made with each of them when their phones were gifted to them on their birthdays.
Kids don’t come without mouths that complain even when they know they way you run your household. It seems as though their knee-jerk reaction is to blurt out something obnoxious when asked to do something around the house so, I wasn’t surprised when my son said, “OK, sure. Since I do everything else around here, I might as well do the dishes, too.”
I didn’t even take a breath before letting him have it. You see, in that moment I felt the need to tell him all I had done that day. Maybe it was because I could feel a cold coming on and I was feeling extra irritated.
Maybe I was a bit defensive because I was on the sofa, and knew it looked like I was just scrolling through social media, with my feet up.
Or maybe I lost it because it was a rude comment; I’ve had enough rude comments from my kids, and I wanted them all to know how I spend my days and what it actually takes to keep this household running. Clearly, they needed a reminder.
The truth is, I want my teens to see me. Not in a selfish, attention seeking way, but I think most moms want their kids to realize they bend over backwards and want them to take note of all we do. We know it’s not their job to validate us, but what we do want is for them to show us some appreciation in small ways– like doing their chores without any lip because that work not only earns them things, but they are part of our household. They eat, sleep, stay warm, are clothed, and use gallons of water under our roof.
A little recognition from our teens goes a long way, am I right?
I’m not saying we need to use this to make them feel guilty (although a little guilt might work), but raising a teenager to be aware of other people, what they do for them, and how they might be feeling is not for the faint of heart– you can have a good, considerate child who sometimes is only thinking of themselves and required a reminder from time to time– or in most cases daily.
And when that happens, it our job to correct them, which is what I was trying to do the other night from the comfort of my sofa while my kids were folding laundry and stacking dishes.
I clearly remember my mother leaving me a list of chores to do when I got home from school on the daily, and I’d get pissed every single time. I wanted to lie on the floor and slurp Ramen noodles while talking to my girlfriends on the telephone instead. After all, I’d been in school all day, this was my time, Mom!
I never said anything to her about it, but I had feelings. Looking back, I almost wish I had said something because I know she would have put me in my place: She was a single mother of 4 who worked full-time, always made nice meals, and made sure we had what we needed. And I was resentful because I had to vacuum the darn floor.
Kids have a way of growing up feeling entitled and selfish. It’s a constant job to open their mind and remind them there are other people in the world. And that evening, I did my due diligence, perhaps I went a little over the top, but I know I’m not alone when it comes to wanted to be appreciated by my kids.
I don’t need a trophy or constant praise. But I want them to look at my every so often and really see me. And I will never apologize for that or think it’s too much to ask.