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Do What You Have To

March 30, 2011

Once again, I’m in the position where I can’t lift more than a couple of pounds. I don’t know how long this will last, but my guess is at least two more weeks. Surgery is a bitch.

My kids are picking up the slack. It’s their job to clean and set the table, and tonight they are going to make dinner. Then they are going to do laundry because they are out of clean uniforms. They are six and eight.

Many, if  not most, of my friends express surprise and astonishment that my kids do housework, but if you look at the family paradigm of 50 or 100 years ago, children their ages were significant contributors to household work. Now, the paradigm is that the kids sit around playing video games while mom and dad do everything.

I’m  not okay with that.

Maybe it’s that I can’t, but more, I want my children to have the capacity, if the shit hits the fan in their adult lives the way it has in mine, to deal, and the beginning of being able to deal with a worst-case-scenario life crisis is being able to do the mundane chores of a day-to-day existence: doing laundry, cleaning the kitchen, making their beds, cleaning up their toys.

If that’s a life lesson from cancer, it’s a good one.



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  1. Gale permalink

    We did housework and my 3 yr old does housework too. It’s something everyone should know how to do. I’m proud of you and your little munchkins. Hope you recover quickly. Love you

  2. Caroline Kirkpatrick permalink

    I totally agree with your take on housework and kids, Elizabeth.:) If only I were organized enough right now to delegate a bit better. I am always afraid that it will be more work showing them how to do things than doing it myself, but I am trying to get to them to the point of being more independent. My oldest one is a huge help, but the two younger ones (especially Keaton)…not such a big help yet.

    • Mary Knapp permalink

      Caroline, she is totally creative on this. While an 8 year old can’t do a good job of mopping the kitchen, she can use Windex and a towel wipe to get mud off the floor. In five minutes of systematic progress (and they are lower to the floor than we are!) the floor went from muddy to sparkling clean.

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