It has been six weeks since my brain surgery for Chiari Malformation. I underestimated how difficult recovery would be. This is nothing compared to giving birth. The most difficult part of having babies once I got past the pushing was the sleep deprivation. The physical pain of giving birth was soon forgotten as I looked into the eyes of a precious newborn. I learned the best way to deal with the sleep deprivation was to sleep when the baby slept and to allow others to help. After a few weeks, I would be able to get the family on a routine and life would find a new normal. I did not have the physical limitations I am dealing with now.
I’ve always prided myself in having a high pain tolerance. After about four weeks I tried to deal with the pain by taking just tylonal and motrin or just good old fashion teeth gritting. But, the pain just got too much for me. I spent a few days just lying around on the couch taking prescription pain medication around the clock. The pain has been so bad at times, I’ve cried. This has happened twice in the past few weeks. I’ve wanted to overcome the pain on my own. But, forgot that I am just human and need God’s help. Gal 6:2 says, “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” That means I have to receive the help God has sent me through family and friends. They have given of their time to do some house cleaning, prepare meals, and even pick up a few groceries. Most importantly, I have a loving family.
I thought that I’d at least be able to do a load of laundry by now. But, bending over is truly a pain in the neck, and a pair of jeans feels like a ton of bricks. I am so grateful to my children. We’ve always strived to teach them that we are a team and, therefore, must work together to accomplished daily tasks. A friend of ours jokes about the fact that with five children we have a built in basketball team. We are not big sports fans but understand the importance of teamwork.
My brother-in-law told me years ago, “when a child is tall enough to put clothes in the washer, they are tall enough to learn to wash their own clothes.” I am so glad I heeded his advice. I may not be able to do the physical labor of laundry but I’ve been able to supervise as the two older boys (ages 5 & 7) follow directions. My 13 year old can accomplish the laundry without anything more than a reminder that it needs to be done.
We’ve also trained the children to work together to clean-up after meals. My kitchen table usually doubles as my classroom so it must be cleaned after each meal. We figured out (probably from the wisdom of a seasoned parent) that after a child is stable on his/her feet, he/she can learn to take part in meal clean-up. Each child is responsible to take their own dirty dishes to the sink and has an additional clean-up task. We as parents must supervise, but our team works together (most of the time) to tidy up the kitchen and dining areas.
Disinfecting wipes are my friend. Even my youngest can wipe the bathroom countertops and sinks with one of these things. Please do not underestimate what your toddler can do. With the proper tools and training, even your toddler can learn to do his/her part in simple household cleaning tasks.
I have even lost my job as event organizer for the family. My youngest just had her third birthday. My wonderful children worked together to plan and orchestrate a simple but fun party. A friend took them shopping for supplies and gifts. Christi baked and decorated the cake. Joseph colored pictures to decorate. Samuel and Peter helped put up the decorations. Everyone pitched in to make sandwiches and set out the finger food. We truly worked as a team. I am so proud of my family.
There are times I feel guilty that my children are growing up so fast. They have to do chores and miss out on some play time because of doctor appointments. Then God reminds me that this experience is training them for life. They are not being deprived of a childhood. Trust me they spend many hours playing outside. They are just learning valuable life skills that they will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
I challenge you today to teach your children to clean house. If they can walk, they can learn simple cleaning tasks. Teaching them now means they will not enter adult hood ignorant of simple tasks because we as parents did not give them chores.