Less Control

Christmas 2015

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.

Christmas 2015

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.)


9 Replies to “Less Control”

  1. Kelli, when my 3 kids would turn 10, i showed them how to do their own laundry and left if up to them–if their rooms were picked up with beds made and laundry in the basket, i would be glad to do it. If not, door closed (so i wouldn’t have to look) and they were on their own.

    They are all pros at doing their own laundry 🙂 And it was one less thing i had to care about. Worked out well for all..at least for me 🙂

  2. This is why I like you so much! You stop and ponder and come up with a solution. There are days I wished I had done things differently, but in the end, my daughter says she would not be the same person if I had done anything differently. We all try hard but in the end, these days go fast and they need love more than anything else. If they remember to pick up stuff and clean, that is just a bonus!

  3. I don’t even have that fight with my own kids. Just close the door. ..and the be honest, since I got divorced almost 9 years ago, I only seem to make my bed when I have company.
    You are doing well….with my teens I have a mantra I say while physically biting my tongue “don’t engage, don’t engage, don’t engage”

  4. I know only a snippet of your challenges. With my stepsons I keep reminding myself of the saying ” be who you needed when you were younger” it helps when I want to scream when I find a stale cheeto in their closet, poop on the toilet SEAT( boys! Argh) and beds unmade. It reminds me to listen and be more gentle. PS, it took me 28 years to enjoy making my bed ! Lol. 🙂

  5. Sounds to me like you’re trying to instill good habits…and those little insignificant things, that most parents ignore while they live their lives in fandom, add up to be big things. They add up to be everything.

  6. That’s why we all love you so much, you stop and think, what is more important a happy life or a life were you are in control, you chose well, hope you have a wonderful New Year, keep up the good work!



  7. My mom always pretty much let me do what I wanted with my room except for when we were going to have company and I’d have to clean it up. I’ve been pretty much the same with my kids although the disgustingness that comes from a 12 year old boy is horrifying.

    I didn’t live with my step mom but the things that stand out in my mind the most are some of the hurtful things she said to me and how she was jealous of me having any time with my dad. Although she did teach me a lot of good things too.

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