By Guest Blogger Dennette Bailey
My daughter is graduating high school this year. I wish that I could grovel about how much I will miss her when she goes off to boot camp this summer and college in the spring. I feel like I should be focusing on how much I will miss my daughter, but instead I am consumed with this thought- When my daughter graduates from high school who is gonna help me clean this house?
My daughter is a big help to me. All I can think about is who is going to clean the kitchen after I make dinner? Who is going to put the clothing in the dryer and who is going to help me iron the clothes?
The more I have thought about it I have started to feel guilty. I began to realize this daughter of mine really helps out around here. I have started to wonder if I have shown her my appreciation. I do not recall saying Thank You. Don’t misunderstand me, I know I provide a place for her to live and all the nuances that go along with being parented, but I am wondering if I have shown her that I appreciate her. I always preach about every member of the family having to contribute to the well-being of the family, but I am wondering if I have contributed to her understanding of appreciation and gratitude through my modeling appreciation and gratitude. Certainly, I wouldn’t allow my husband to get away with telling me that I should know he appreciates me because he pays the mortgage or maintains the lawn so I am realizing that I should not expect my children to think they are appreciated because they have food, clothing and nice place to live.
I grew up in a time and a culture where children were expected to help around the house with no expectation of pay or acknowledgement, but now that my help is about to leave, I realize that I have continued a tradition that, even if it helped my daughter gain a sense of responsibility and family community, it did not help me learn how to progress in my interpretation of modeling gratitude and appreciation. My concern then is that my lack of learning may have inhibited her from feeling a sense of value that should come from home first. I received some estimates on what it would cost to clean my house and that’s when it hit me. All those times I told my children they were “half cleaning” and “not working diligently” – I was being half gracious and not appreciative.
I’ll have just one young child left at home and I think I have learned that while children need to practice working toward the well-being of the family unit by assisting with chores, I have a responsibility to model good habits as well. I want to model a well-balanced life for my children. I want them to believe they can achieve their academic and career aspirations while also valuing family and rest time. I realize I have to reconcile the lifestyle I grew up in and the one I live in now. There are going to be some clear changes. That means sometimes the kitchen is going to be dirty. I will have to buy some extra laundry baskets for the laundry that will be behind schedule. I might even be seen in public wearing wrinkled clothing. I will do whatever I have to do to spend time with my youngest child and ensure I miss my 18 year old because she is a great young woman and not because she won’t be here to run the dishwasher!