Monday, April 04, 2016

My Fault

It's my fault.

My son dumps his oatmeal on the living room floor. He shouldn't have food in the living room, but we're eating in the living room because the kitchen table is covered in dirty dishes I haven't washed. He laughs and runs away because I don't discipline him well enough. My fault.

My older daughter is running late for her bus because she can't find socks and shoes to wear. There are no matching socks because I need to do laundry. None of her shoes are in her shoe basket because she takes them off wherever she feels like it, and I am not consistent enough with enforcing the “put your shoes away when you take them off” rule. She can't find her shoes on the cluttered, messy floor that I haven't cleaned. My fault.

My kids don't clean up after themselves. Clothes are left in a heap wherever they were removed. Toys are abandoned on the floor to be stepped on and destroyed. Oatmeal is dumped in a board game that was left lying open, and now needs to be thrown out. They have no concept of what it's like to live in a clean house, because they never have. They don't know how to clean up after themselves because they have never seen it modeled in their parents. How will they know how to clean if no one teaches them? And who will teach them if their mother is curled up in a ball on the couch, overwhelmed by everything she needs to do? My fault.

My middle daughter is throwing a tantrum. I have tried everything in my parenting bag of tricks, but nothing gets through to her. I can't give her my full attention, though, because I need to find her sister some shoes and clean up her brother's oatmeal mess before someone steps in it wearing the closest thing to a matching pair of socks I could find... Scratch that, now I need to find another pair of sorta-matching socks. I know how tough it is to be the middle child. She probably needs some quality one-on-one time, but I can't seem to find the time. My fault.

People like to tell me that I'm being too hard on myself, that nobody's perfect, that I'm doing my best. But then people like to tell me that things would be better if I taught my kids to clean up after themselves, if I just washed the dinner dishes as soon as we were done eating, if I made a cleaning schedule and did one task a day, if I bought such-and-such a book and used their system, if I budgeted better so we could hire a maid, if I just ran one load of laundry a day, if I just spent five minutes cleaning every night after the kids are asleep, if I, if I, if I… My fault.

And the suckiest thing about this illness of mine is that, when faced with all of the things that I want to do better, that I know I can do better, that my kids deserve for me to do better; I shut down. I know, logically, that it's better to get up and do something. That if I could just wash one dish, I might find the momentum to wash another. But logic always seems to lose out to the darkness. If I could just shake off this fog and listen to reason…

My fault.

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