When The Table Turns
There was a young lady I worked with some years ago. She came to work with neatly packed sandwiches lovingly prepared by her mother. She was open about the stress her mother went through in making sure she had something to eat for lunch at work every single day.
At the time, I found it annoying. For crying out loud, this young lady was on placement and in her late teen. How on earth would her mother prepared lunch for her when she was old enough to cook for the whole family?
Frustrated with the stale stories she told of her sandwiches and the poor tired mother struggling to keep hunger away from her spoilt daughter, I asked why at her age she wouldn’t sort the lunch out (at least) for herself. She looked at me and shrug “Mum always cook for everyone”.
I shook my head in pity and promised myself never to slave for my future teenage children.
Fast forward a decade and a bit, here I am with a teenage daughter whose laundry I still do, whose lunch I still cook and who I remind constantly to tidy up after herself.
The truth is, I believe strongly in giving children responsibilities, but somewhere in my busyness, I slipped. The last 18 months had been particularly busy for me that tracking the progress of my children fell miserably.
With the pleasure of new business and the zeal to see it succeed, I somehow relaxed my parenting code of conducts.
I became a mother whose priority laid more on the business than what the teachers were feeding my children’s brain. I worked myself tired every day and only managed a few empty words of greetings before shooing them off to bed on getting home,
My children binged on screen watching and half-eaten snack littered the house. The spare time I had from my tight schedule was spent between recuperating from my tiredness, screaming/nagging my head off. It wasn’t enjoyable for me nor for the children.
The Comfort I Created
My children longed for the comfort of me being around, they wanted me back, back to the routines I created. They mentioned the good old times, times that money couldn’t buy. They wanted the silly competitions we had, freshly cooked meals ( not the cold lunch I left in the fridge) and the snuggles on the sofa before bedtime.
Don’t get me wrong, during these 18 months, I did the school run and I got to know their teachers and made sure home works/ school projects were done (maybe not on time). I often take time off just to be with them, our nature walks were still intact, but I turned a blind eye on many issues. Call it guilt or sheer exhaustion.
I was drained mentally. It was tasking for me combining my new world with my old homely world. Within a few months, dishwashing rota was neglected. There was no strict bedtime and the use of some words ( which I frown upon) became apparent.
Returning home late, I found it unpleasant telling my children off every night. I did what my brain advised: I kept quite or gave lengthy lectures and the circle continued.
Spending the last few weeks with my children showed me the new picture of the beings I am raising. My children needed rebuilding. My children missed me, they missed the time I invested in them as they grew to know the world and together we are fashioning something out. Something to help me focus and help them grow.
I have always worked in my life. There was never a time that I haven’t worked to add to the food on the table: no matter how little. Honestly, my children were used to these routines because the balance was even. In other words, I was good at balancing my home and work life, but it was somehow different this time around.
Apparently, I fell prey to the bittersweet experience. I knew I was away from home most of the waking hours, I never deeply know the impact on my relationship with the kids.
Spending a few weeks anguishing about whether I’d made the right decision we figured a lot of things out. Part of it was placing priority where they are due and for me, time with my children gives me hope. It renews my energy and my purpose.
My 13-year-old is back in the kitchen now. We have both constructed a rota and routines to work with. There is a weekly rota on dishwashing. My son who is 8 takes the bin out ( something he used to do). My youngest daughter is 10 she has a big role to play as well.
Cooking is done with everyone in the kitchen and with this I am creating a bit of time for myself. There are strict rules on the tidiness of the house and I am keeping an eagle eye on it all.
The truth is we often forget how quickly these kids grow. We tend to neglect the fact that children do have responsibilities, they have a quota to contribute in the home they live in. We fell under the norm of doing it all forgetting their growth spurt.
Here I am at the centre of the table, trying desperately to make it work.