I recently went on strike.
The Mum Strike, as I like to call it.
I saw the piles of clean laundry collecting dust in the hallway, not put away like I had asked. I saw lunch boxes missing from the kitchen. I ask my kids for exactly one thing when they come home from school — to put their empty lunch boxes in the kitchen. It’s hard enough to pack three different lunches for three different picky eaters in the early hours of the a.m., I shouldn’t have to search for lunch boxes on top of that. I saw the dirty clothing that they had thrown down the steps — the same clothing I had asked them to put in the laundry basket. I saw the left-open box of crackers, the left-messy bathroom sink, the left-on lights in all the bedrooms, the left-unsigned homework, and the left-everywhere half-finished glasses of water. I saw the complete disregard for me and for what I do for them.
And then I went on strike.
I have no idea who signed their homework, but it wasn’t me. I have no idea who packed their lunches, but it wasn’t me. I have no idea who did the have-you-brushed-you-teeth breath check, but it wasn’t me. I have no idea who made sure water bottles were filled, hair was put into proper ponytails, sports shoes were packed, and school shoes were on, but it wasn’t me.
And now it’s over.
Did it accomplish what I hoped it would? It may be too soon to tell, especially since I don’t even know exactly what I was hoping for. My kids are pretty spoiled, you see, and I know that it’s partially my fault for allowing them to get to this point and it’s more than partially my fault for having had a nanny for most of their lives. A nanny was a necessity for all of the years that I worked full-time outside of the house—someone needed to be there to send them off to school and collect them after school and feed them and bathe them and make sure they survived the day. They never appreciated what our nannies did for them. And they don’t appreciate what I do for them now.
Sh*t got done, they didn’t know how; they didn’t care how.
My friend Melissa called it THE HOUSE FAIRY. The fact that someone is magically picking up the clothing and putting away the toys and doing the dishes and folding the laundry and cleaning out the backpacks and making sure that everything is where it’s supposed to be. Well, we haven’t had a nanny for quite some time. So, the person doing all of the house fairy magic? THAT WAS ME, by default.
I think, then, with the mum strike, that the hope was that the kids would learn two important things.
1. Mama does a sh*tload of stuff for them.
2. They are quite capable of doing a lot more than they think they are; they can do some of the things that I do. Carry some of my load, if you will.
What I do know is that this morning there were three lunch boxes stacked up on the counter in my kitchen. I do know that the two who eat breakfast had two bowls of porridge —each—and then brought their bowls to the sink. I do know that three sets of teeth were brushed and three sets of homework were brought to me to be signed. I do know that Isabella didn’t cry through the hairbrushing / detangling sessions. I do know that there are three sets of pyjamas in the laundry hamper.
Now I don’t know how long this is going to last, because I’m fairly certain these kids are still riding the post-strike wave of fear that it might happen again and Mama will just pick up and leave again and no one is quite cool with that plan of action. It’s a long-haul kind of project, teaching them this whole appreciation thing. It’s not happening overnight or over one measly weekend.
But, you guys, I’m going to take it. Because this morning was downright pleasant. And that’s one more pleasant morning than we’ve had in months.
I know that as soon as I hit publish on this post I will likely have jinxed something and tomorrow there will be fights and tears (mostly mine) and screams and foot stomping and towels left all over the bathroom floor and lunch boxes left scattered all over my house.
But maybe, just maybe, I have made a dent, no matter how small.
Have you ever gone on strike?