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99 | Daughters, Dishes, & Discussion

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I have 7 kids. There are always MANY opportunities to teach and guide and help and serve. Many many many. This weekend I had one daughter at a birthday party, one was at a friend’s house and that meant there were just 5 kids left at home. It’s amazing how having just 1 or 2 somewhere else changes the whole dynamic and makes it quieter. It always feels like someone is missing and we definitely notice the absences.

Because there were 2 gone, that left the dinner dishes chore to those who were at home. And because 3 of the ones left at home are too little to do dishes, that meant that the 2 oldest girls got to do them. (we have the kids divided up into groups and they share the chore of dinner dishes every night 6 days a week. Sunday night we all do it together)

One of the girls was disgruntled. I get it – I understand that when it’s not your night and you’re stuck at home and your sisters are out having fun AND they don’t have to do their dinner dishes? I understand that it feels unfair. I love my girl … I totally understood her perspective in that moment. The dishes needed to get done though. And in this house when someone is unable to do their “job” for whatever reason (gone, sick, etc.) then we all chip in to help get the job done – because the important part is getting done what needs to get done.

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I am trying, in all of this, to teach my kids team work, responsibility, kindness, sometimes mercy, how to work even when you don’t want to, the literal steps of cleaning, and that sometimes life doesn’t give you what you want and the best response is to just go with it and makes the best of whatever you’re dealt in life.

I remember being young and thinking things needed to be “fair” and believing that “fair” was everybody getting the same … equality.

I see with greater perspective and understanding now, and I understand that “fair” is everybody getting what they NEED … it will be different for each person, what their needs are, but “fair” is all having their needs met.

Is life fair? No. I don’t think so. Ideally? Yeah, it would be amazing for every person on earth to have all of their needs met. I would wish that for our world. Until that day we have THIS world. And in this world life is not always fair. My role as a mother is to teach my kids to work within this world as best as I am able.

So as my daughter was expressing her distaste in the situation, I took the opportunity to help guide her to see a different perspective. We talked and in our conversation I had a few things I wanted her to hear and feel and know and to understand for life in general:

  • I want her to understand that sometimes we have to do things that we dislike. We do. As adult people that comes frequently. The best thing to do is not to FIGHT against them, but to just do them, get them done, and move on.

I can’t tell you how many times as a mother I’ve had to do stuff I didn’t want to do. Um …. like everyday? Seriously, it’s all the time. I would be annoyed constantly if I took the attitude of fighting against everything that displeases me. I think my world is a nicer, happier, more pleasant place to live in when I just get stuff done and stop whining about it and do it and move on.

  • I want her to understand that she gets to choose how she responds to everything and in that choice she “creates” her world.

I have lived the way of believing the world is out to get me, that everything is just done TO me, I have no choice really except to just be stuck with what comes, and I should focus on all the crap that exists because it sucks and I can only see the sucky crappy terrible stuff that is thrown at me.

That is not a nice way to live. I remember that way and it was not lovely. Instead of THAT way, it’s nice to know that I get to choose. Always, that is my right. I get to respond in whatever way I choose to EVERY little thing that comes into my experience. And if what comes is crappy? I can choose to not focus on it. I can choose to look up at the sun shining in the sky instead of the garbage on the floor. I can deal with what comes in the most positive way I can and give myself a break and see that I ALWAYS have a choice and THAT is my birthright.

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In OWNING that “birthright” I set myself free from the bondage that comes in believing the lie that I have no choice, the lie that I can’t do anything, the lie that I just get what comes and it is usually garbage … I can see the truth that my choice to respond is what “creates” my world and in that choice I have freedom to see the light or focus on the dark. It’s truly up to me.

  • I really REALLY also want my daughter to understand that she has EVERYTHING. And to focus on the few things that are not awesome, the little bit that isn’t great, the things she doesn’t like is a misuse of her “creative power.”

I am one of those moms that shows my kids the children in Haiti who eat dirt cookies because they have no food, the little girl in Africa who carries buckets of water miles a day so she and her grandmother can have drinking water where they live, the boy who lost his leg in carrying that water and now can’t attend school because it’s too far to walk, the man sitting on the sidewalk next to Winco where we buy our groceries who has no home and no food, the children in our community who go to school hungry or bruised or …

There are countless lives who have far greater burdens than we do. I want my kids to see and know the blessings that they have and the responsibility to understand what that means and how they should use their lives to serve others and at the very minimum not complain when they’re annoyed about doing dishes or having to go to school or not having air conditioning … we have EVERYTHING and understanding THAT allows us to use our power in a better way than whining about the few things that are negative.

It’s important for us to have perspective and I  – HOPE – I am teaching my children that and to USE that perspective to change the world in positive ways.

Life is hard, I see that. I have SO many things I could sit and complain about, feel sorry about, be down in the dumps about … but what good comes from focusing on all that I don’t like? Most of it is unchangeable and so to dwell on it and be annoyed constantly about it is a useless waste of energy. Instead, I can use that energy for POSITIVE change in the world!

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Maybe today I don’t have the means to feed all the hungry children, to give water to the Native Americans in our country who don’t have water in their homes (it’s ridiculous really) and to help ALL the people who are suffering, but in my limited means I DO have the ability to make SOME tiny bit of positive change. I can teach my kids to use their thoughts and lives with responsibility and greater perspective. I can use MY life as an example of positivity and joy. I can help those in need in my little sphere of influence and hope and dream about the day I can do more.

THAT is my right. That is within my ability to do. I know that as I do that I will be doing what I CAN in this world to put more light energy out than darkness. There is nothing that comes from feeding the dark … I desire to feed the light, the goodness, the service, the joy, the love, the freedom, the higher perspective.

I had this amazing conversation with my teenaged daughter in our family room Saturday evening and I sent her a little message later on her phone with a little quote that I thought maybe would help her remember to focus on the good.

She messaged me back and said, “Thanks, I have been thinking that I need to be more positive. This will help me.”

Will she or even I get it “right” all of the time and never look at the negative? No! We’re human. We will not be perfect, but we don’t have to be perfect. We just have to be trying today to be better, to look higher, to see the love instead of the hate, and to focus on all that fills us with light instead of dwelling on the garbage. In trying each day to be a little more positive than the day before, a little kinder, a little gentler, a little more loving, a little more thoughtful we are doing what we can.

In doing that we are changing our world, one thought at a time.

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