Friday, July 16, 2010

Happy "Helpers"

My proud little bed-maker; didn't she do a nice job?

I walked into the bathroom the other night before bed. I was greeted by: toothpaste on the sink, two toothbrushes in the floor, uncapped toothpaste tube, crushed Dixie cups and various other odd and assorted pieces of stuff. My first thought was: "Wow, I'm so impressed that Josie helped Carson to brush his teeth." That was when I realized that I am not quite such a failure as a mother as I sometimes think I am. I was not necessarily grateful that I had to pick up and wipe off all that stuff, but I wasn't frustrated by it.

Trust me, there are plenty of things about my children that make me consider joining the circus. Anyone who has ever had a 2 year-old, or a 4 year-old (and especially those of us who have had both-or bless you-more!) know what I am talking about. There are definitely moments when I reach that banshee decibel and I am sure my neighbors do not appreciate it. However, I have to say that honestly, I have more positive thoughts about my children than negative ones. I really try to look at the bright side, and try to figure out their motivations. That is what led to the thought about the bathroom diaster. I know Josie loves to help Carson and I could tell by the disarray this was the cause. Joel had put the kids to bed, and while he is more conscious of messes than a lot of men I know, he must not have realized he needed to help the kids brush their teeth.

I think that is really one of the signs of a good mom-recognizing the underlying intentions of our children. When Jocelyn makes a HUGE mess in her room but I remember that she spent a whole hour entertaining her brother I try to make sure that I thank her for that, rather than just ranting about the clutter. This is not to say that the times when she drags out everything she owns in a 30 minute period just because she is bored that I do not make sure that she is the one doing the majority of the cleaning. But when I know that she is not the only offender (and she was helping me by keeping him sidetracked) I try to be a little more understanding.

I laugh when Josie "helps" me by lining up all my shoes outside my closet, or when she puts the laundry away-all together in the same drawer. I think it is cute when Carson "helps" clean up his dirty dishes-by putting them in the trash! Maybe not so cute when I realize I am missing half of my matching Ikea bowls, but I didn't complain too much about replacing them. I take a ton of photos of my kids and definitely when they do something that I realize may be exasperating, or just not helpful, now but I will probably think is funny later. Like when Carson got into a bowl of Hershey's kisses and tried to eat them with the wrapper on. Or when he put dirty laundry from the floor into the dryer. I realize that they are just trying to help me. Such as the times when Jocelyn puts away the upstairs basket (I keep it at the bottom of the stairs and put things that need to the other level in it to take care of later) and I can't find my shirt because she put it in my sock drawer. Or when both of them clean any of the mirrors and/or windows with baby wipes. Talk about streaks!

I definitely am not a perfect mother, but I think it shows great progress -for me- that I don't demand constant perfection from my kids. I really try to focus on how they try to please me-that is really the heart of obedience. There are certainly times, more than I can count, that they have intentionally disobeyed. That merits discipline, sometimes calmly and patiently administered, other times not so kindly. But I am certain that any wise mother would tell you to seek to understand your child's motivations. Also, I try to remind myself that if they have done something they thought was helpful that isn't, then I can take that opportunity to show them the right way. If they have done something to the best of their ability (such as when Jocelyn makes my bed) I praise their effort anyway. They will both hone their skills as they grow older. Taking a picture of my bed, with my beaming 4 year-old on it, so pleased with herself, will be a wonderful memory when she is making her own bed in her own house.

I also wrote this post as a reminder to myself to take more joy in the things that may not seem so joy-inspiring. I don't think everything has to be a "I'm so thankful that my child has arms so he/she can make all these messes." But I don't think it hurts to think, "Look at that helpful spirit or newfound ability", when they maybe pull all the books of the shelf while "dusting'. I want my children to learn to be self-reliant, helpful, cheerful and independent. Those character traits aren't developed overnight, so at times I need to remember certain messes are just stepping stones-and to keep the cleaning wipes handy!


  1. Ok she is *too* cute :) And I think you are doing a fabulous job~I have no doubt it is often hard to see the good intentions behind a mess instead of just the mess. I do hope I can have that better perspective when the time comes!

  2. Sometimes we have to make a mess before we can get things clean :) Your children are adorable and I just love them to pieces. As always, thanks for sharing them with us via internet! Love you all!

  3. What a great job she did making that bed! =)

    It's crazy... even at 6 months, Noah already likes to "help." I look forward to many more fun times like that. Kids are fun, aren't they? =)

    ~ Jen



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