“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”
― Umberto Eco
Last night, after dinner, I did something I have never done before: I left Thing 1 and Thing 2 in the kitchen to clean up while I retired to the living room to read.
It. Was. Fabulous.
Did they do it as I would have done it? No, not really. Did they do a great job? Yes. And no. Did they complain? Not once.
The whole affair was entirely shocking. And, unbeknownst to them, has completely changed the way we do business around the Manor.
In many respects, I am actually a terrible parent. I sometimes encourage dessert before dinner; I very often choose that we read over chores; instead of shuttling them to lessons or other useful pursuits, I tend to suggest that we have Great Adventures or Laze The Day Away. And, in so doing, I have coddled them and, I fear, probably ruined them for good.
But, no more!! The coddling ended last night when I realized that, seemingly overnight, they have become fully capable human beings. I have to admit that I take the whole Divorced Parent thing a bit too far at times. Because I am Divorced, I am the only Functional Adult in the household. And, because it's not THEIR fault that I am Divorced, I tend to DO more things for them than I think I would in a Real Family environment. (The capitals are all mine and always included in my thoughts. Welcome to my head.) I pick up their glasses and plates from the living room. I do all the cooking and most of the cleaning. I mow the lawn and pick up the animal feces from the backyard. I do all the dusting and most of the vacuuming and sweeping. I do the laundry. I used to fold it AND put it away but in the last year I've been putting it on their beds for them to put away.
I just feel like since I ruined their lives by getting a divorce, the very LEAST I can do is be their servant for life.
And that's the crux of it. I do too much because I'm trying to make up for interrupting what MIGHT have been an idyllic childhood by thrusting Divorce into their lives. Because they have to shuttle back and forth between Mom's house and Dad's house, I try to somehow make up for that pain and inconvenience by letting them skate by with very little effort.
But that's not going to make them very good human beings, is it?
I don't know that I'll EVER be guilt-free about being Divorced. I don't know that I'll ever truly forgive myself for inflicting that pain on my kids. At some point, when they're older, I hope they'll understand that being Divorced actually helped their mom Get Healthy. And I hope they can forgive me.
But, until that day, I think they'll be doing a lot more dishes.
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