Am I a slave to my children?

20120802-100054.jpg Last night, after I made my 3 children frothy hot chocolates, my seven year old son approached me. He said, “Mum, you say all the time that you aren’t our servant, but you kind of are.” Mmmm, interesting. I asked him why he said that. He replied, “Well, servants are people who serve other people, right? They cook and clean and do all kinds of things for other people as their job, right?” I grudgingly agreed, not really liking this conversation very much at all. He continued, “Well, there is a problem then, Mum, because you act like our servant because you wash our clothes and cook and fetch us from school and help us with homework, and  clean our rooms sometimes even when we were supposed to. You do lots of things for us kids but we don’t have money to pay you, so that means you do it for free. That’s really bad, Mum. It means you are a slave!” I was gob-smacked. What a thought. Deep breath, Michelle, deep breath. I replied that I do all these things for him and his sisters because I love them and because everyone in our family works together to keep things going. I tried to get him to see that I’m just doing my part in the same way that his Dad and siblings do theirs. I told him that I love taking care of my kids and that I know that they try their best to do their chores (most of the time) and that part of being their mother is doing lovely things for them simply because I love them and that it makes me happy to do so. I hope I imparted to him that families need to operate as teams and take care of each other in the best way they know how.  He wasn’t satisfied. He started asking about odd jobs he could do so that he can earn money, because he wants to pay me for what I do I the house. He was totally mortified at the thought of me working so hard and getting nothing for it. In his mind, the injustice was huge. I laughed and hugged my sweet, earnest boy and explained to him that just knowing that he notices all I do and is grateful for it is payment enough. That I love his huge heart and the fact that he took the time to think these thoughts and express them to me. I thought the conversation was over and didn’t think much of it. We had a fabulous family evening, complete with spontaneous jamming on the musical instruments (we murdered Adele) and cuddling on the couch to watch the Olympics. It was a rare weeknight treat. I was enjoying this family time so much that I decided that tonight, the dishes could wait. I wasn’t going to nag the kids about clearing the table or helping me with the dishes. Tonight, we’d just have fun. The girls decided to put on a dance show (a whole other post) and I vaguely remember wondering where Little Man was during their performance, but figured he was probably all girled-out and was likely playing Lego instead. After much hustling (and waaaaaay after their bedtime) the three kids were finally in bed and I realised I had to go face that horrendous pile of dishes in the sink. I. Did. Not. Want. To. Do. Dishes. But, they weren’t going to wash themselves. I cynically thought to myself that Little Man wasn’t far off in his description of me as a slave. I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time with dishes, laundry, mopping, sweeping. Uninspired, I trudged to the sink and then stopped short. No dishes. The sink was empty. In the drying rack was a lopsided stack of half-clean, soapy dishes. There was a giant puddle on the floor under the yellow Ikea stool, dragged from the playroom. It seems this slave got paid. Thank you, Little Man. Mama’s proud.
What has your child done that’s melted your heart? Please share. My box of Kleenex is ready. 
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About Michelle Lewsen (They Call Me Mummy)

Michelle Lewsen is an award-winning copywriter with 18 years’ experience in the advertising industry. She is the author of theycallmemummy.com where she writes about her imperfect parenting, struggles with work-life balance and the often laugh-out-loud chaos that her Adult ADHD brings to her life. Michelle was honoured as a Voice of the Year by BlogHer in 2013 (“Inspiration” category) and again in 2014 ("Heart" category) for her writing on theycallmemummy.com. The three most interesting and fun people she's ever met call her Mummy and keep her feet firmly planted on the ground. The same goes for her husband, who suffers through her adult ADHD with an admirable generosity of spirit. In her spare time (between 1am and 6am) she's been writing a series of children's books. Soon, she'll be publishing them and your kids are going to adore them, so watch this space.

Posted on J August, 2012, in Family, Gratitude, Life, Motherhood, Parenting, Self-esteem and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

17 comments
mylifeaslucille
mylifeaslucille

I never leave your blog without a tear in my eye and a smile on my face. How do you do that? It's amazing how much they notice when we don't realize they're paying attention. Love this, friend.

Heather
Heather

P.S. new follower from the Hump Day Hook Up on BlogLovin.

Heather
Heather

What a sweet little boy you have!!! And so awesome of him to take notice off all you do and help out where he thought he could.

Norine of Science of Parenthood
Norine of Science of Parenthood

Wow! I just found you from the Hump Day hook up and I'm a new fan. This was a wonderful story. I so <3 your son. Looking forward to reading more posts!

Ginger Kay
Ginger Kay

What a sweet boy you are raising! (I came from the Hump Day Hook Up.)

Molley@A Mother Life
Molley@A Mother Life

Aww... that's so sweet! He sounds like a beautiful soul! Thanks for hooking up to the Hump Day Hook Up Michelle :)

Robin Jingjit
Robin Jingjit

What a wonderful story. I hope one day my boys are as sweet as yours.

April
April

So sweet!! This is the second post of yours I've read today, and that has made me cry...I am pregnant, but still! My nine year old has recently started making breakfast for his brothers on the weekends so Mom and Dad can sleep in! He's even made breakfast for us...it's so wonderful and exciting to see your children exhibit kindness and empathy.

Shellie M
Shellie M

What a thoughtful little guy! He's going to make a wonderful husband someday.

rinekat
rinekat

It's best to let kids learn a chore or two around the house when they are young and willing. By the the time they enter their teenage years, they won't be so ready to volunteer. My younger son used to help with mopping the floor when he was a teenager. He used hot water to do it.

jeaniney25
jeaniney25

I had tears in my eyes over this post ..honestly the FIRST TIME a blog ever made ME CRY!! Just at how sweet your child is n how much he reminds me of my three year old...the younger they r the more they seem to LEAD WITH THE HEART almost ...enjoy these memories n print your posts, so they can LAST A LIFETIME!!! I wouldn't want to ever forget something like this in my old age LOL

A Write Relief...
A Write Relief...

This is such a wonderful, heart-warming post... Thank-you! I was nearly in tears reading it and you must be so incredibly proud of your little man. What an amazing family you have. I look forward to reading more.

momshieb
momshieb

What a great story! What a wonderful kid! You are clearly doing something right, and I love the image of the fooling around night. I miss those days!!!! Here is one little story from my Mommy days. For Mother's day, when my boys were 8 and 10, they decided to write me a poem and type it up. They used our old Mac desktop computer, and wrote this: "If every time you taught us something Another tree would grow; The world would be a forest Full of things to know." They put in clip art pictures of kids and trees. Its still hanging on my classroom wall, a dozen years later. sniff

mummymishy
mummymishy

What a beautiful comment - thank you SO much. I do treasure these moments (because, trust me - there are many hair-tearing-out ones in-between!) Have a great weekend!

mummymishy
mummymishy

I love that! So precious. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. [...] into the low self-esteem pit. Do I ever get this right? Every now and then, I have days like this to let me know I’m doing [...]

  4. [...] Am I a slave to my children? [...]

  5. […] with good manners, compassion, respect for other people’s property, the ability to share and a sense of kindness for everyone around […]

  6. […] I have actively worked on making my kids accountable too. I want my kids to understand that being a part of our family means participating in the running of the home, too. This means not only doing chores (which they already do) but taking personal ownership of doing them without me needing to prompt them. Nagging my kids to do what I need them to do is exhausting and soul-sucking. They hate it and so do I. While we were away, I decided that this was going to end. […]