56: The Good Mom

56: The Good Mom

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom's Survival Guide

The Good Mom

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.

~Sam Keen

My alarm clock blasted music way too lively for my early-morning mood. I crawled out of bed with a groan, stumbling over a basket overflowing with dirty laundry Whatever happened to our lazy days of summer? My mind drifted back to when my girls were younger — back when we slept late during summer vacations. Now, activities like gymnastics, band and volleyball camps, softball games and a number of other commitments had turned our lazy days into crazy days.

I maneuvered my way toward the kitchen through a path of flip-flops. Last night’s dinner dishes greeted me at the sink. Oh yes, I thought, remembering our hectic evening the night before. We had scarfed down frozen pizza, grabbed our lawn chairs and rushed out the door for my daughter’s six o’clock softball game.

Something is wrong with this picture, I thought, scraping dried pepperoni off a dinner plate. As much as I enjoyed watching and supporting my girls’ activities, our busy schedule left little time for housework. Somehow we had plenty of time to make messes, but never enough to clean them up.

Whenever I complained, my husband always gave me the same advice: “Get those girls to help you.”

“I know,” I said, feeling a twinge of guilt, “but that’s easier said than done.” They always seemed to have an excuse.

“How about folding some laundry?”

“Okay, Mom, this TV show is almost over.”

“Girls, I need you to unload the dishwasher.”

“Sure, Mom, but can I do it in a couple of minutes? I’m so close to the next level on this game.”

Truth be told, it probably was my fault. I wanted to be a good mom — and good moms didn’t follow their kids around nagging them all day. But I didn’t feel like a good mom. I was a tired mom. A grumpy mom. I was a mom who needed help, and I knew the perfect way to motivate my girls.

“Okay, guys,” I said one morning during breakfast, “today we’re starting something new.” Three pairs of eyes gazed up at me from their bowls of cereal. “From now on, each of you must complete a chore each day before getting on a screen.”

“A screen?” my youngest asked, tilting her head to the side.

“Yes, a screen,” I said. “You know, TVs, computers, Wii games, iPhones…”

One by one, each girl’s mouth dropped open. They weren’t excited, but I was eager to set my plan into action.

I’ll admit the first few days were a challenge. Like most kids, they tested me, seeing if I would stand my ground. But within a couple of weeks, doing chores became our daily routine. My plan worked great — and no nagging was needed.

I used to think being a good mom meant self-sacrifice and being able to do it all. Now I have a new definition. A good mom builds a team and teaches responsibility. She is more able to enjoy her kids because she’s no longer stressed out, sleep-deprived and exhausted. Once I learned how to share the load, I think I became a pretty good mom.

~Sheri Zeck

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