Desperate Times

First, I just want to say that I am loving the Jesus Storybook Bible.  Loving!  It is so sweet, with a lot of illustrations that keep the wee ones engaged and an energetic style that both entertains and illuminates.  The focus is on the bible as a love story, and it just sings with joy.  I would say it’s most suitable for preschool to maybe 8 year olds.  They have a curriculum kit (I don’t have it) which is for upper elementary ages, but I would expect older children to be reading a more challenging bible storybook, so l’m not sure about their expectations.  This is definitely for younger children, but truly delightful.  And truth be told, most of my older children paused in their work to listen in from the next room.  Anyway, highly recommended!

Two cuties in the tub.

Two cuties in the tub.

Now, here’s a sad story for you.

I’ve been warning my people about this for several weeks.  I’ve been stressing about this for a long time.  I’ve got six adults in my household, and yet almost all of the work is falling onto me.  No one person has a lot of chores, but few of them are doing them without being reminded/cajoled/threatened.  All day long, I’m scrambling to care for my wee ones, prepare food for eleven people, two on a restricted diet, manage the household and the farm, and keep up with the never ending pile of laundry.

On Monday afternoon, Evie wet my bed while napping.  I had to strip the whole thing and rewash the sheets I’d just changed and the comforter, too.  Then I had to get the bed remade.  At this time of year, I end up trying to make dinner and milk the cows at the same time, and now I had to deal with the bedding on top of the regular crazy, and I was stressed.  The following morning was our Saint Nicholas celebration, so a special effort had to be put forth there, plus we usually watch Saturday Night Lights on Monday evening.  And I’d asked one of the (adult) children to make sure that there is firewood in the box in the mornings so that I can build their fire without having to go to extraordinary lengths.

But Tuesday morning, I woke at five, as usual, to a messy kitchen full of unwashed dishes from the evening before, an overflowing trash can, laundry and pillows and blankets tossed all over the living room, and no firewood.  I was pretty steamed.  And then my barn buddy never showed, so I headed out for milking and manure shoveling alone.  When I got back, one daughter had set the table and arranged the donuts, but she was sitting in front of a dying fire doing a crossword puzzle.  The others still hadn’t come down, even though it was 7:30.  I was just about boiling over.

A neighbor's barn at sunrise.

A neighbor’s barn at sunrise.

“Good morning, mama!” they each said as they traipsed into the room.

“I don’t want to talk to you right now,” I said back.

That is extremely alarming, when mama can’t even talk to you.

I would have waited till much later in the day to discuss my issues.  I would have waited until I had time to cool down and come up with a reasonable plan of action.  But after a while, somebody asked, “What is the matter, mama?” and that was that.

Mama went on strike.

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8 thoughts on “Desperate Times

  1. Barbara

    I completely relate, Jennie. My work load is piled so high to try to bring in some income, and I have all my other chores on top of that, plus a husband who is at home all day, not always working. Yesterday I left to make deliveries, and came home three hours later to the same dirty dishes soaking in cold dishwater. I’m not sure what he had been doing, but it wasn’t work and it wasn’t dishes. I work from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. most days. It might kill me, and they might just walk over my cold body for a couple days before anyone would actually do anything. I wish I could afford to strike.

    Can’t wait to hear the rest of your story.

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  2. Melanie

    Oooohhhhh….a cliffhanger! Oh, I’m dying to hear. Most of mine are much younger, but I clearly and failing at this. No one does anything without whining and moaning and constant threats….and when my college student comes homes, well…she is super helpful in many ways, but she is also a terrible slob who leaves endless mess in her wake. Someone didn’t raise her right, lol.
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  3. Sherrylynne

    The purgative way always sounds religiously efficacious in books, but looks pretty nasty in my own home while I’m trying to be “hidden & holy” like Mary. I get to a point, ya know! It is good to know that I do not struggle alone. Thank you.

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  4. Sarah

    Can’t wait to hear the rest myself. Quite frankly, I don’t think it does anyone any harm to come to the realization that a mother may be servant-hearted, but that doesn’t mean you are their unpaid indentured servant. Seeing your authentic, gut reaction to having boundaries ignored is a good way to learn consideration for other people and to realize that no one can be taken for granted. Going on strike for a while seems fair. :) And it will give you more time with your littles.

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  5. Emily G

    I know this is serious, because you usually don’t talk about negative family matters. I’ve always admired your older children, thinking they were great home helpers. Hmm.

    I worry this will happen in my family. My husband does *nothing* for himself or the household (though everything for the farm and his job, lest I downplay his role). Though most of the time I am okay with his ways, I cannot have all of my children following his example. I can’t pick up everyone’s dirty socks forever.

    One of my dear friends in my teens had six sisters and four brothers, who were all together at the end of the family. Their household ran very well. Her mama’s system was three tasks: Kitchen (cooking and dishes), Laundry, and General Housekeeping. The seven girls were divided in teams of two based on personality and compatibility, with the youngest a third member with two big sisters. The three teams switched tasks each week. Mama worked all over where needed, picked up slack, homeschooled, etc. We both know how busy she was even with help.

    I know you have ideas for systems-perhaps even one in place that’s not being followed. Having ideas is one thing, getting cooperation is a whole different bird. While every mother serves her family, she is not their servant. I think there’s a distinction there. It is too easy for everyone to let Mama become the servant, and forget we are all her together to help each other.

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  6. KristyB

    Interested to hear an update as well. As my kids are getting older, we are trying to stay on top of some sort of system to keep everyone accountable. We try to maintain a good example of what we expect of them, and put in place consequences when things continue to fall to the wayside. It’s such a challenge and I often wonder if it will ever “work” without endless reminders/threats from me about who is expected to be doing xyz…

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