I walked through A’s room this weekend, picking up errant candy wrappers and tidying her bed. There were a few water bottles and I took out her trash. We’d just gone to the store to pick out linens for her new bed; it was frustrating she hadn’t bothered to make the bed after such an effort to get the new furniture and details in place.
After a sleepover, she returned and we had dinner. She looked at me with wide eyes, playfully. “Why did you clean my room?”
I hadn’t cleaned, really. But it was enough of a change that she noticed and was bothered.
I stumbled in response, my mind flooded with my own 13 year old memories of just wanting my space. A space where I could lock the door. A space where I didn’t have to make the bed. (And truthfully, a space where I could stay up all night reading, if I wanted to.) I hadn’t had any of this in mind when I’d “picked up” her room earlier.
“Because it needed it? Because you shouldn’t have food in your room! Because MAKE YOUR DAMN BED ALREADY.”
I said none of these. I just shrugged my shoulders and continued to shovel my dinner, running a list of justified responses over and over in my head. Why is it so important to have the children in my home make their beds? I’m rarely in their rooms. Is it because I want to feel in control? That I need them to listen to me? That I must feel respected?
Whatever it is, it is about my ego and not their cleanliness. They are not slovenly and they will not likely ever meet my ridiculous expectations for tidiness. I have a sick feeling that this is all about me feeling like I am the boss — which is gross and highly unnecessary for the circumstance. I am yet one more adult in their lives, not a parent, but an example. And I can chose to continue this battle of wills where I show them how to be up tight and grouchy, or I can do as Princess Elsa consoles: let it go, already.
This holiday season, I had a chance to spend good time with this kid. We baked — one of her favorite hobbies, and worked on Christmas cards together. My sails could be full if I let them be.
2016: I welcome you with both arms. And with a mouth that will no longer nag these children into doing chores that stroke my ego. I’m going to hug them more and enjoy these days. (I will also happily close their bedroom doors.)