How many of us are sheltering our kids from our struggles? I know I’ve been extremely guilty of that. I’m so afraid of screwing them up that I try to make sure they don’t hurt, or worry, or grow up to need therapy. Here’s what I got by raising them that way…children who cannot do a single thing for themselves…children who have no concept of money and how hard it is to come by…children that show no initiative whatsoever…children that are demanding…children that have no respect for me. So raising them to not need therapy has created a mom that DOES need therapy.
When my stepson came into my life, he was one of those kids. I was just learning to be a single income mom, so I decided to start sharing honestly about our bills and expenses. I noticed something rather quickly…he gained a new respect for me and my finances, and our relationship changed exponentially. It was like magic. Another bonus was he could now start learning about finances and money and maybe, just maybe, he won’t struggle as much as I have.
Now my kids are younger so I didn’t think having the same chat with them would get across to them with the same effect. Instead I continued on the road I was on…raising them to be the kids I listed at the beginning of this post. I’ve found myself in a place where I constantly felt like I was doing it all wrong. I constantly felt abused and overworked. I constantly felt under appreciated. And that’s a really sucky place to be. Eventually I snapped. I went completely bat shit crazy on my husband. Honestly I’m not even sure why the man is still my husband. But I unleashed on him and afterwards I walked out the door without so much as a goodbye to anyone. This mama was SPENT.
Once I came to my senses, I had a very long and sane-person chat with my husband and expressed how overwhelmed I was. He stood up to bat without even blinking and took charge of this family. But I couldn’t let the kids keep doing me this way. Nothing would change if I didn’t let them know. So I sat down with all six of them. Very calmly (many tears were shed, but no screaming and yelling), I explained that mama was not at girls night but mama was on the kitchen floor at Mimi’s house hysterically crying. Crying bc I can’t go to the grocery store without everyone losing their mind. Crying bc I can clean all day and the house is destroyed within seconds of them arriving home. Crying bc I can’t take a shower and them think to grab Liam so I’m not dodging bombs thrown at my feet. Crying bc I’m trying desperately to spend time with them and show them how beautiful our state is, and the second we get home I’m left with clean up and arguing and misery. Crying bc I’m the only one in their lives standing up for them (my three anyway). Crying bc it’s way too much for one person. And crying bc it’s embarrassing to have to sit in front of your kids and tell them these things. So here’s what’s going to happen children…I’m no longer going to fight. They can help me at the grocery store or we will only eat peanut butter sandwiches every day every meal since I can run into Spinx and purchase those items. They can help me get chores done and clean up after themselves or I will leave them behind to do them. They will step up and ask to help me rather than sit on their phones all freaking day. They will shower, brush their teeth, do their chores and read first thing when they get up or they cannot leave this house with me. And then I broke down expenses. In one week I spent $750 on clothes and glasses for my girls. They’re each carrying $900 iPhones. My cell phone bill is the same as my freaking car payment. If they can’t make the necessary changes, the phones become decoration for my bookshelf. The internet will be cut off. They will sit on their beds from now until eternity. I simply cannot keep going the way we’ve been going without ending up being committed somewhere.
That was the exact speech I gave them. Not one time did I raise my voice or yell. I didn’t have it in me to be mad. So we hugged and they said they loved me. Liam punched me in the face. It was a really great kumbayah moment. My husband asked me later if I was ok since it was such a hard chat to have (I mean who wants to admit defeat to their kids), I said yes and I doubt it’d work but we would see what happened.
Guess what happened? My children are totally different people. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still fighting like cats and dogs. But I’ve not had to ask one single time for help. I actually got to walk around Ross and TJ Maxx today with little issue. Liam and Sam got a little obnoxious towards the end, but I didn’t leave in tears and they didn’t bug the piss out of me for a toy, so it’s a win! The girls are packing diaper bags, grabbing my purse, letting the dog out. The list is endless really. I cannot believe what a team we have become in the last few days.
So I urge you to try it. Try being honest with your kids. Not in a screaming psychopath kind of way that moms do when they’re spent. But talk to them like you’d talk to a friend…just a little less grown-uppy. We tend to wait until all hell is breaking loose inside before we reach out. So by that time we are reaching out by screaming and hollering and our point is totally lost. It has to be presented in a rational and real way. It lets them see us as human.
We are protecting them from everything they need to survive this life. They need to know how to take care of a household. They need to know how to take care of their hygiene. They need to know how to deal with conflict. They need to know finances and how to budget. By sheltering them from these things, we create children that need therapy. The world includes all those lessons and they won’t know how to cope later.
At the end of the day, we are all doing the best we can. Not one way is right or wrong. If you’re dealing with children that I mentioned in the beginning of this blog, it never hurts to try a new route. Clearly the one you’re on isn’t working if you’re falling apart. I hope your journey takes a turn for the better like mine has!