Sunday, September 22, 2013

Worst. Mom. Ever.

**DISCLAIMER** I have some awesome kids.  They are fun, fun-loving, and loving.  They are sweet, funny, and absolutely precious.  I absolutely adore them to the moon and back.  But they are human.  So am I. 

My kids have it pretty good.  No, we aren't rich.  Not even close.  Especially since I quit my pretty decent job with the state over two years ago.  Still the best decision I could have made.  But when you look at the entire world, we are exceptionally wealthy.  My kids eat 3 meals a day, and that is a minimum.  There are days they have 3-4 meals and 2-3 snacks.  They have plenty of clothes.  In fact, they have more clothes than I do.  And shoes, enough shoes to do the things we like to do.  Toys.  Don't get me started on toys.  They have a ridiculous amount of indoor and outdoor toys.  Too many.  So many that when I take them away and box some up because they won't clean them up ~ they don't even notice.

I have known for a while that my kids are spoiled.  The hubs and I are no spring chickens and we like to spoil them.  Until now.  What I have come to realize is that spoiling brings brats.  Not the kind you stick in a hot dog bun and throw on some mustard and onions.  The kind of brats that throw temper tantrums or pout or sass.  The kind that makes you wonder where they come from.  I don't have to look far to know how they came to be like this.  Don't get me wrong, they are good kids ~ they aren't mean, they are generous, they share (most of the time), and they can sing church songs with the best of them.  But deep down I have done them a HUGE disservice by catering to many of their whims.

I am currently doing the Bible Study "7 ~ An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" by Jen Hatmaker.  Loving it so far.  I totally recommend it.  She really gets you thinking about your own life and our excesses.  We whine and complain thinking we don't have it as good as the neighbor or as the kid at school, but we have it SO GOOD compared to the extreme majority of the world. 

So when my precious babies started in the last few weeks telling me with every commercial "I want this" and "I want that" and "I want you to buy this" and "I want you to buy that" it started to really bother me.  I struggle with getting them to clean up what they have, where in the world would we put something new?  B doesn't even put in an effort to clean.  He just tells me to box up his toys because he doesn't like cleaning.

Then Friday night I fixed them breakfast burritos for dinner.  The same breakfast burritos A has been asking me to make for a week or two.  She took one bite.  ONE.  Then told me she didn't want to eat because I put cheese on it.  The same cheese I put on cheeseburgers and turkey sandwiches.  I told her that I always put cheese on it and she could pick it off.  She refused.  So I told her she wouldn't get any snacks at the football game.  I worked in the concession stand for a while that night and bought myself a sandwich because I hadn't had a chance to eat yet.  A started in on her whining about being hungry.  I told her she couldn't have snacks.  Her dad told her she couldn't have snacks.  Then came the crying, the foot stomp, and the nastiness that spewed from her mouth (I never fix her what she wants, she doesn't eat cheese, she doesn't like anything I fix, blah blah blah).  I grabbed her arm and we started for the van.  Then came the epic fail.  I gave her my sandwich to shut her up. 

I firmly believe our kids need to hear the word no.  And more than that, they need to experience the word no.  I failed.  I had resolved to not allow her any snacks whatsoever, then I caved because I wanted to watch the football game.  I know it feels like punishment to me to miss a game because of her attitude, but in the long run if the attitude doesn't get clipped it will be worse. 

The next day was the ham and turkey festival.  FAIL.  I told them they had to clean up their room before we went.  And I am remembering that RIGHT NOW at 10:07 p.m. on Sunday night.  We went to the parade, walked around, then went to the kids zone.  They played one game and jumped in the bouncy house.  When we started to leave A said to me, "You need to spend money so I have a good time."  That was it.  I had heard enough of the selfish, ungrateful comments.  An idea started swirling in my mind...

The hubs and I decided it was a good time to head back home.  We grabbed the kids a sandwich and a drumstick and started back.  B didn't like the turkey on his sandwich ~ at this point a second idea started swirling in my mind...

Now, the hubs is not a stupid man.  When I get these half-brained ideas, he just stays quiet and out of the way, even when I ask him to help.  He goes along with it as long as no one loses life or limbs.

So yesterday afternoon when the kiddos were outside playing, Operation Worst Mom Ever commenced.  I went into their bedroom and packed up Every. Single. {inside} Toy in their room.  I left them with a few outside toys (not including the obnoxious amount of outside toys that were actually outside).  I packed up every doll, every block, every Barbie, every truck, every bit of play makeup, every instrument.  I left books that talked about God or had Bible stories.  Everything else is gone.  It is now my fave room in the house (because it is clean).

Empty boxes, empty shelves...

It took them a while to even figure out everything was gone.  We talked about it today.  How we all have so much more than we need.  How there are so many people who don't have many toys.  How our attitudes need adjusted.  They were allowed to play with the outside toys, which keeps them outside more anyway.  It gives them a chance to use their imaginations and figure out how to play together better.  They will get a chance to earn some of their toys back with good behavior, good attitudes, and doing chores.  However, they will also have to pick one toy to give away.  When we were done talking about it, the kids were all gung ho to start going through toys and give them to kids that don't have toys.  My heart was happy. 

Then came dinner.  To help them start to understand how ungrateful their behavior was, I fixed rice and beans for dinner.  It wasn't their dinner of choice, by any means, but we talked about how some kids don't even get rice and beans.  I pulled up pictures of children who were starving, some who were eating plain rice from a bowl, and one who was eating bread off a floor.  We talked about how we should be grateful for everything we have, even when we don't necessarily like the taste.  B still didn't want to eat it, but finally did.  A decided that she was thankful for rice and beans and promptly prayed her prayer of thankfulness and then asked God to protect those kids who were hungry and tell the people who can provide food to send some to them.  So precious.

So yeah, I am the meanest mom ever.  I packed up the toys.  I fed them rice and beans.  But already I have seen the lessons starting to sink in.  My prayer is that soon my sweet, adorable kiddos will live their lives full of gratefulness and thankfulness and an awareness of others' needs.  If that makes me the worst mom ever, I'll take it. 

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