Life can be challenging when your children only have one parent.
Last Sunday I picked Lily up from a camp friend’s house 20 minutes away. The night before, I had driven her to a different friend an hour away. After I dropped her off at home, I went to Shop Rite, which took me over an hour. Shop Rite by me on a Sunday is a little like an insane asylum. Every time I make it through, I feel as if I’ve been through a war. I came home, put away the packages, and walked the dog. All of this took up more than half of my day.
Two things happened after that that made me think that maybe I had done too much for them.
First, Amanda had made herself pasta while I was gone. I believe she may have thought that she cleaned up. Amanda’s version of cleaning up is putting her dirty bowl (with food in it) and the strainer in the sink. Not the dishwasher, the sink. There was a dirty pot and an empty box of pasta on the counter, and she would never think to wipe down anything.
Right after I saw this, Lily asked me if I had bought the ingredients to make her the potato latkes I promised her over Hanukkah a month earlier but never made. Mind you, it’s not as if the poor deprived child did not have any potato latkes over Hanukkah. My mother in law made us delicious ones on the first night. But she wanted me to make them. When I told her that I had forgotten about them and I was exhausted from running around all day, she got very upset with me.
I thought about all of this for a few minutes.
Right after Howie died, I made a promise to myself. I swore that I was going to do everything in my power to make sure my girls did not always feel like they only had one parent.
I would drive them around as much as possible when they needed me to. I would make dinners – I did not want to be the mom that made frozen pizzas and ate over the sink every night. I would be as involved in their lives as much as they would allow me to be. I would do whatever I could for them.
I have tried very hard to keep this promise. But I am realizing now that this promise has turned into me doing everything, and this may not always be such a good thing. It is a definite possibility that I had done too much for them.
My girls are great daughters, and I know that is hard to say about teenage girls. I think I have an amazing relationship with each of them, and they have a pretty good relationship with each other – as far as sisters go. They are nice and respectful to me, and for the most part do not give me a hard time. I sometimes think this is because they only have one parent but, even so, I am very thankful for them.
BUT I think having only one parent may have turned them into the two laziest girls on the face of the planet.
I do everything for them – laundry, dinners, dishes, cleaning up. taking care of the dog (and they wonder why he loves me best). Plus the fact that they are the two messiest girls in the world, so cleaning up after them is no easy task.
I thought about the fact that when I made this promise to myself, the girls were 10 and 12 years old and grieving the loss of their father. They are now just about 16 and 18. I think it might be time to make a change.
I sat them both down and told them how I felt. Their reaction could not have been better. They apologized to me and said they would try to help out more. My fear is that these were just words – it is five days later and you should see what their rooms looks like.
Now we will see if they actually do make the effort. Old habits are hard to break.
This may be harder for me than it is for them. I know that I need to stop doing everything for them because I have done too much for them up until now. They need to not only do more for themselves, but also help me out a little. It is time. I am hoping we can all make a positive change.
Stacy was a stay-at-home mom/part-time preschool teacher whose life was turned upside down in 2011 when her husband passed away suddenly of a heart attack. She is raising her two fabulous daughters, now ages 18 and 20, who are turning into wonderful young women. In 2016, she started a blog about her experience as a young widow, The Widow Wears Pink. This led her to write for other publications including Huffington Post, Today.com, Scary Mommy, Grown & Flown, Kveller, Modern Loss, Thought Catalog, and many more. In 2018 she started Living the Second Act with fellow writer Mimi Golub. Today, Stacy and her daughters are happily living their “new normal” while always keeping her husband’s spirit alive.