Welcome, Mamma Crew! Today is Mamma Thursdays when it’s all about us! The mammas!
There is no question the pandemic has changed all of our lives. It certainly has had a tremendous impact on ours. Due to my health problems, we really have to be careful and try to avoid any type of exposure, whatsoever, and try to keep it out of our home to a higher degree than most people do because I do have pre-existing conditions.
But one of the unforeseen side-effects is that we left our large home Puerto Rico where we moved, I think about four years ago, to return to our small condo in Florida. Now we love our condo. It’s in the Kissimmee area, it’s next to Walt Disney World — my favorite place on
Earth! I certainly agree with the phrase that it’s the happiest place on Earth. We’ve always really enjoyed it as a family. And being five minutes away from it, it’s even more enjoyable! You don’t have to drive for an hour to get home or fly or go to a cringy hotel because, as far as I’m concerned, all hotels are cringy no matter how expensive and beautiful they are. It’s not my home. Somebody else has been there and who knows what kind of habit they have? The germaphobe in me comes out, what can I tell you?
So in Puerto Rico, I have help because the house is so large. Because I had my accident and my knees have recovered — although they don’t seem to be the same anymore, now they swell up for no good reason (or maybe there is a good reason, I’m just not aware of it). So bad knees, age and the other health problems that I already mentioned to you several times — the autoimmune disorder, so on and so forth; being B12 deficient, all of those things. In addition to that, I was running a homeschool co-op and of course, there’s parenting and all of those things that just consume our everyday lives.
Well here in Florida, given the lockdowns due to the pandemic, there’s not as much to do. The girls have music lessons online, and we do go for either bike rides or walks in the afternoon, but it’s not the same thing as traveling back and forth to take the kids to multiple lessons, or friends or, you know, all the things that we do for our kids. And this condo is very small it’s only 1400 square feet.
In case you were wondering how I spend my day, well, there are three meals that need to be made; clean the kitchen after every meal; the dishwasher gets ran 3-4 times a day because well, there are six of us; and there’s laundry! You’d be surprised how much laundry there is for six people! Holy cannoli! It didn’t seem like there was so much laundry when we were four! But now that we’re six, wow! It’s just incredible! It seems like I’m always doing laundry! Or sheets! Or towels! We shower every day, so I mean I have to wash the towels two, three times a week! So lots and lots going on.
Now I do have a cleaning lady whom I’ve had for a very long time. She was my cleaning lady when we were here in Florida, in our very nice 3,000 square foot home in the Cape Canaveral area. And she’s used to dealing with people who have health problems so she’s very careful, she comes fully-gloved, you know, wears a mask, Lysol’s herself, I mean, she goes the extra mile. But to minimize exposure and risk, I only have her come in once a month to help me with the heavy stuff, right? To help me with the bathrooms because I have a really hard time cleaning them with my knees — it’s hard for me to kneel. I just don’t kneel, let me just put it that way. It’s just not going to happen anymore.
And that deep cleaning the bathrooms need. There are three bathrooms in this very small condo, for which I’m extremely grateful for — both the condo and the bathrooms. Man, it would drive me crazy! Can you imagine one bathroom with three young ladies? Ugh! I shudder to even think about it. So she comes in and she helps me out with that.
Now during the week, I expect the girls to help out with some chores. So four days a week, what they have to do are: clean the table after every meal; clean the kitchen counters at the end of the day (which I do after I make every meal but somehow, with all the snacks they get and everything that they’re doing, they leave it all crummy, so I want them to clean up the crumbs and I want them to just pick the kitchen up a little bit, you know? No really big deal.); I have them unload the dishwasher (not load it because they make a mess — somehow, there’s always water on the floor it’s just not worth it. It just irritates the hell out of me. Sorry! And so I do that.). And take out the trash. Four days out of the week.
Three days out of the week, one of them vacuums (it’s a small little vacuum cleaner for everyday use); the other one Swiffers the tile areas. And of course, the typical ‘wipe down the counters, the table, take the trash out, and unload the dishwasher.’ Now call me crazy, I don’t think that’s too much to ask of three girls that are just a few months away from turning thirteen.
And again, maybe it’s because my reference point is a very dysfunctional family in which I was completely responsible for the household starting the age of eleven, including cooking ( I accidentally set the kitchen curtains on fire during a grease fire. I poured water on it. I don’t know how I didn’t bring the house down!); doing laundry; taking care of my two younger sisters, and trying to keep my mother and father from fighting. By doing all my mother’s chores while my mother slept or hung around her girlfriends because, well, frankly, she suffered from severe depression. We were always happy to see her get out of the house and, once, inside the house, she didn’t do very much.
So I tend to look at that reference point and say to myself, “That is not a reasonable expectation.” So I do lots of research with friends and on the Internet and, you name it — I don’t want to abuse my children in any way, shape or form, and I decide what chores should be appropriate.
I did consider having them do the laundry but they’ve done their laundry before when we’ve come for short stays in the condo. And it takes them a whole day to do ten pieces of clothing! I mean, the amount of water and detergent they waste, it’s… ugh! So I decided against that. And of course, they’re expected to keep their rooms picked up.
Now this past week, I decided I was not going to be a nag. Frankly, I get tired of being accused of being a nag and I get tired of being accused of being unreasonable. And I’m certainly tired of hearing that they know and they were planning on doing it. So I didn’t nag them at all during the week. I said nothing. I even took the kitchen trash out. Bug and I would get it together and walk it all the way down to the huge trashcan that we have in the complex. I didn’t say anything. I just kind of patiently waited. And waited. And waited.
The trashcan in their bathroom was overflowing with trash. And it was also that interesting time of the month, so you could just imagine the smell and how nasty the whole thing looked but I kept my mouth shut. And I waited some more. And then it dawned on me that we learned through natural consequences. And my constantly screaming at them and yelling at them and nagging and being so cruel in refusing to understand that they were planning on doing it all along, wasn’t going to teach them anything.
So I thought about it and I declared myself emancipated from the nag. What do I mean by that? Not gonna nag them about their chores; not gonna nag them about taking the trash — I still plan on nagging about homework– but I’m not gonna nag about the chore thing. It’s not worth my time. It’s not worth the aggravation. I always end up upset and they always end up calling me mean (oh, sometimes, they don’t say it to my face — most of the time they don’t say it to my face — but you can just see it in their eyes, you know they think it. They feel it that you’re being cruel and unreasonable in your expectations). Nope.
Instead, I call the cleaning lady. And I said, “Can you please come and clean the house?” And she said, “Absolutely! No problem!” That was nice of her because I know it’s a big hassle to come to our house. Just like I said, she has to go through the whole process of gloving herself, Lysol-ing, wearing special clothing covering, (those masks — oh they’re so hard to wear for very long; I feel so bad for our medical personnel). Anyways, so I called her — and then I called the girls. And my husband too because I wanted him to understand my emancipation. To have a clearer picture of it.
You see, my husband’s never happy whenever I call the cleaning lady. Cleaning ladies in these areas are EXTREMELY expensive! They average between a hundred and sixty-five dollars to two hundred and fifty dollars for ONE day! Ugh! Maybe I’m getting old but it just seems like a lot of money!
In any case, I informed my husband that I had called our cleaning lady and he was like, “What?! Uh, didn’t you say you weren’t going to…!”
“Yeah, that’s true. I did say that but you know what? You don’t have anything to worry about. Nothing at all! Because you’re not gonna pay for it.” He’s like, “What?”
And I said, “Yeah. You and I are not going to pay for it.”
Now the girls were looking a little surprised. You could see this puzzled look in their faces. Why were they taking part in this meeting? Who’s gonna pay for the cleaning lady? And they were really not that interested in that until I said, “The girls are paying for it!” Then I got their attention! I said, “And by the way, every time she comes that’s $200, and yes, you’re gonna split it between the three of you.”
Now you immediately saw that huge question mark above their head, on their face, on their stomach and maybe they looked a little like they had been punched in the gut. That’s a lot of money! Now they do get an allowance, mind you. And they were wondering, WHY? Why was this happening to them? And I explained I was declaring my emancipation from nagging, and yelling and being called an unreasonable mother. I wasn’t going to do any of those things anymore.
Instead, what I was going to do was, I was going to take my little calendar and I was going to just mark when they didn’t do their chores and if the chores were not done, then guess what? Somebody had to do them for them and that meant they were going to have to pay for it. So if the chores were not done, I would simply call the cleaning lady to come and do it, and then they could pay for it. Hmmm…
They were shocked about the money but they certainly didn’t seem to be hurting too much. Except for Dora. Dora was in shell shock because she recently lost the iPhone we got her so she’s been saving to replace it. And this means she is nowhere near close to replacing that iPhone. I mean, come on! iPhones are expensive! So now, she has a problem in her hand, doesn’t she?
So my sweet little girls who had been so good, when we had lived in our Cape Canaveral house, about keeping their toys picked up and everything nice and neat, now were really seriously considering what was worse — paying someone to come and do it, or doing it themselves without being nagged. So our cleaning lady was here on
Saturday. She did a great job. And today’s Sunday. Guess what didn’t happen? The girls didn’t do their chores! Again! There goes demerit number one for the week.
And as I sat in the living room folding their laundry, I wonder how many times they were going to pay for the cleaning lady before they learned the lesson? I mean they’re going to be running out of _____ in here. I don’t know. I did decide to help them out. I did make them put an alarm on their phones to remind them to get their chore done. But I didn’t nag about it. It was just a helpful approach to a clearly challenging problem for them.
Now today, when they didn’t do their chores, I didn’t yell. I didn’t nag and continued doing my chores — doing laundry, putting it all away, making sure that we were ready for Monday so that I’m ready for the homeschool co-op that now I’m running on Zoom. And they have everything ready to start their Monday on the right foot — they, meaning my kiddos. And, you know, that I’m ready to handle all the kiddos — mine and those of the co-op.
And I took a deep breath and I realized what a wonderful feeling it was to be emancipated from all the nagging and yelling. It feels wonderful! Don’t have to worry about it anymore. In fact, I think I’m now going to have so much time in my hands, I don’t know what I’m gonna do with myself. I mean Bug and I are done with homeschooling in a matter of half an hour — he is only five, you know, we’re learning our letters. And a little bit of tracing lines. That’s about it. He’s five. He’ll get there. I have no interest in taking it more seriously during this lockdown.
And we already take our long naps. Okay, 45 minutes — I consider that a long nap. Andy was the kind of kid that only gave me 15-minute naps. Those were lightning naps. And Emmi, well, she was more of a 30-minute napper. I think that’s a decent nap. In any case, maybe our nap can be a little bit longer.
We already have more time to play. I have been promising to play that Spider-Man video that we just got with him. You know, I think maybe that’s what we’ll do. This gives us time, in addition to our walks to the trash can (of which I’m sure we’re gonna be doing many), to spend some more bonding time together. Playing Spider-Man. On video. And enjoying my sweet emancipation.