I shook the snow off myself before I opened the front door to my house. My little white dog did the same. I entered the house and sighed as I felt the warmth. It was freezing cold outside. I took his leash off and hung up my coat.
I walked into my kitchen and I saw it — the mess. Dirty dishes in the sink, crumbs on the counter, cabinet doors flung open, and cereal boxes on the counter.
I looked around for my two teenage daughters. I found one watching Netflix on the living room couch, blanket over herself and a bag of popcorn on her lap. The other one was in her bedroom, or what I thought was her bedroom. It was hard to recognize with the clothes all over the floor. She was face timing a friend.
It was a snow day, and this was how my girls were spending it. I was spending it cleaning up after them, doing laundry, and taking care of the dog.
Did I do this? Did I cause my daughters to think I was their maid?
Five years earlier my husband had passed away very suddenly. He had a heart attack after going running and died almost instantly.
I was devastated, as were my daughters, who were 10 and 12 at the time. I became a single mom to them without warning.
When this happened, I made a promise to myself. I would do everything in my power so that my girls would not always feel that they had only one parent. I would try my best to do the job of both mom and dad. Keeping this promise was very important to me.
It is five years later. My girls, now 15 and 17, are turning into incredible people. They are smart, sweet, respectful, and loving. I am so proud of them and all their accomplishments. They are both flourishing, despite the unimaginable happening to them.
There was just one problem: the promise that I made to myself five years earlier had basically turned into me doing everything for them. I realized that this was not a good thing for any of us. They needed to learn how to help themselves. The way I had been doing things was no longer working; it was time to make a change.
It had taken me a few years to recover personally from my husband’s death, but in the last year I had found a way to be happy again. I started a blog about my experiences being a young widow. This was how I discovered that I love to write, something that I never knew about myself. I have also found yoga, which has both given me peace and has helped get me into great shape. Lastly, I have found love again, which is an amazing feeling.
The problem was, I did not have a lot of time for all my new “me” things. I was still so busy doing everything in my household, as well as everything for my daughters.
My girls are older now and I am trying to begin a new chapter in my life. It is time to give myself permission to think of me, and not wait on them hand and foot anymore. They need to finally step up and take care of themselves a bit, as well as help me out sometimes.
On that snow day, I called them into the kitchen and we had a talk. I explained my feelings to them and told them it was time for them to do more for themselves. I did not know what to expect as I awaited their reaction.
Surprisingly, their response was extremely positive. They understood and even apologized to me. They both promised to do their best to help out more. I was so happy and proud of their reaction.
I see that they are now trying, but old habits are hard to break. The dishes have moved from the table to the sink, but haven’t made it to the dishwasher yet. There is no argument when asked to walk the dog, but they haven’t taken it upon themselves to do so without my asking. You get the picture. Hopefully, they will keep moving forward with the change.
This goes for myself as well as for them. It may take a little time to adjust to more “me” time. When you are so used to doing everything for your children, it can be hard to stop yourself from doing so. It is a process but I will hopefully get there as well.
I am trying. I am off to yoga class soon, but first I must fold the laundry.