When Parenting TOTALLY Pays Off

I was hiding in a book this morning when I heard my children yelling from the hallway.

“WHAT MADNESS IS THIS?” one 8-year-old shouted, followed by his twin with, “WHAT KIND OF MONSTER DOES THAT?”

I went to investigate, thinking they were watching another questionable YouTube video and that perhaps, rather than tell them to “shush” and “go away” and “of course you can have treats and screens; have you even met me?” and, finally, “I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU DO, just let me finished this chapter,” their mommy ought to get up off her lazy butt and, oh, I don’t know, be an involved parent or something.

As I came around the corner, I heard them muttering in front of the linen closet.

“This just isn’t right,” they said, and “Do you want to tell Mom or should I?”

“Tell Mom what?” I asked.

They jumped, slammed the linen door closed, put their bodies in front of it and said, “You don’t need to see this, Mom.”

You guys, I have heard this line before.

“You don’t need to see this, Mom” was the line delivered before I saw the Sharpie art on the hard wood floor.

“You don’t need to see this, Mom” was the line one of the girl children gave after slamming her brother’s fingers in the car door.

And “You don’t need to see this, Mom” was the line attempted when the eldest boy decided he was, too, old enough to use a butcher knife to cut his own apple.

“You don’t need to see this, Mom” is, in other words, LOOK NOW, MOM; SOMEONE or SOMETHING IS IN IMMINENT DANGER.

I gave them my grim, resigned face.

“Show me,” I said, and they sighed.

“OK,” they said, “but we tried to warn you,” and they opened the door to show me this:

IMG_5957I know, friends. I know. It’s AWFUL and TOTALLY UNEXPECTED. And believe me when I say I was as shocked as you are — as shocked as my boys — to find folded sheets in there.

IMG_5958“Folded sheets, Mom,” they said. “There are FOLDED SHEETS in our linen closet. OUR linen closet, Mom.”

“What do we do?” they cried.

“Should we FIX THEM?” they asked.

But I said, “No. No, we won’t fix them, boys. We’ll leave them there — folded — as a reminder of what could happen to our linen closet if we’re not vigilant about maintaining our linen closet standards. We’ll leave them there to keep us on our guard. We’ll leave them there to be covered by all the other sheets and towels and washcloths and escapee socks and underwear we shove into that teeny, tiny space, and we will do the linen-shoving with increased enthusiasm, knowing we are no longer just doing our chores, half-assed as usual, but we are also now symbolically standing up for our WAY OF LIFE.”

The boys nodded in understanding. They were ruffled by their discovery, yes, but they acquiesced, as they should, to my leadership and wisdom.

“We’ll leave them there, Mom,” they said, “but we promise you this — we will never, ever, EVER fold sheets. Just like you taught us, Mom.”

So, fellow parents, I want you to hear this today:

Sometimes you get down on yourself. Some days you don’t know if you’re doing this whole parenting gig right. Sometimes you question yourself, your values, your parenting, your life.

Me, too. Totally me, too.

But listen. LISTEN; there is HOPE.

A few short years ago my boys — the same kids pictured here — were all “How come we don’t fold our towels like they do at Leigh’s house, Mom?” and “Why do we never stick to Henry’s couch when we go over there?” and I wondered — I did — whether they would ever really get it, you know? Whether I was raising them up in the way they should go, like the good Lord said. Whether I was a Failure and Doing It Wrong.

Today I know, friends, that all the hard parenting work pays off.

ALL THE HARD PARENTING WORK PAYS OFF. 

So keep on training up children in the way they should go, y’all, and someday — maybe even sooner than you think — your children, too, will not depart from it.

Amen.

Praise Jesus and AMEN.

With love from your friend and THE BEST CHILD TRAINER EVER,

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Proverbs 22:6
“Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

#RaiseThemUpInTheWayTheShouldGo

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
17 comments
  1. Two thoughts: (1) This has Dutch people written all over it. (2) Beth – Dear Reader – was raised in an environment of mitered corners, folded underwear, gig lines, “a place for everything – everything in its place.” So I live in the confidence of the old gospel hymn “Standing on the Promises”, but I *do* wonder – how old exactly does the child have to be before he/she *finally* ceases departing from the way he/she should go???

    1. She learned by example, and found the “better way.”

  2. I love you…that is all.

  3. Folded sheets! *shudder*
    I’ll be praying for you and your family, Sister. Stay strong!

  4. Creepy. Is one of your children lost in the linen closet?
    Funny I’m reading this while my son is doing dishes and my daughter is supposed to be cleaning her room.
    He does his work. She works my last nerve.

  5. I love that you’re teaching your kids that, while the Woolseys are not folders, there are other people who are. And that we folders are as God made us, and we are all worthy of acceptance and affirmation. I know that if any of your children grow up and discover that they’re folders, that it will make no difference.

  6. You have renewed my faith and hope. My daughter actually cleaned her room because her cousin was coming over and I was mortified, thinking all my wisdom and clear examples of how to maintain a home had been for naught. Now I see it was perhaps the dreaded “peer pressure” I have heard so much about. Hopefully, out of its influence, she will revert back to normal.

  7. Sheri’s not the only one who sees the eye. I see it, too! Freaky.

  8. I see the half face too. It’s like a pig-monster creature. But I think it’s a wadded up washcloth.

  9. BETH IT”S NOT GETTING BETTER! Now there is half a face under it! Like, 1/2 way up the picture and further to the right! I did that little 2 fingered thing on the track pad and now it is worse. HALF A FACE I TELL YOU! THERE ARE NOSTRILS!

    1. Now I’m afraid to sleep in my own house.

    2. I just ran to the linen closet.

      There’s no face there. ANYMORE. There obviously WAS a face there earlier. AAAAHHHHH! I’m pretty sure that’s the Angel of Sheet Folding Death.

      1. It was our house-elf. Smart move, camping out in there. Only a matter of time before we stuff in a load of towels containing a stray sock or underwear. Since it is gone now, that’s probably what happened.

        1. Poor Dobbie. Now he’s gone and homeless. I hope he comes to my house. I’ll feed him pie.

  10. Beth….please tell me I am imagining the eye staring at me about 2/3 of the way up on the right. Please tell me what that is, so I can sleep tonight. I keep turning my laptop on it’s side, on it’s head, on the other side and back to straight and IT STILL LOOKS LIKE AN EYE!

    1. That’s where we stuff the people who fold sheets, Sheri.

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