Wednesday, December 15, 2010


So, reading about families where real neglect happens is not happy. There are FAR worse things that go on in families. Is it abuse? Yes, it's a type of abuse. I sort of think of abuse as what's DONE TO a child and neglect as what is NOT DONE FOR a child. Sometimes, there is both.

I have heard a lot of moms kick themselves for a lot of things. They read something or see something or compare themselves to someone else and walk away feeling like they are a neglector. You see a perfect Mom with her kids all scrubbed and shiny and cute and hair fixed and precious hand-made clothes on and a sweet little headband in their hair and then you look down and notice that your child put her own pony tail in this morning and it is not lovely and they are wearing clothes, but nothing cute or pulled together and one of them has lunch on their face and mismatched socks and a hole in their jeans.

Sigh. So you naturally conclude (well I do anyway) that this mom of cuteness has all her dishes washed and her house is clean and her car is shiny and not filled with crumbs and library books and lost shoes. You might have even been to one of these cute mom's houses and seen it for yourself and you start to think, "What is wrong with me?"

I'm going to tell you something. Being a mom is hard work. Being a full-time mom is hard work. I thought when I quit working full time that things would get easier. Some of them have. But I was honestly very surprised at how hard it was to "just" stay home with my kids.

Here's the deal. Just because you are behind on something doesn't mean you are neglecting your children. It means you are behind on something. Are you? Then go do some laundry. Wash those dishes. It's fixable. It's not the end of the world. Today's "I don't have any clean underwear" can be fixed in a matter of hours. Will you get ALL the laundry done? Probably not. But you can sure pick through the pile and wash all the underwear!

Just because you spend some time on the computer each day doesn't mean you are neglecting your children. My dad read the newspaper each morning. When we wanted to tell him something, he put the paper down in his lap and listened to us. Then he went back to reading. I did not feel neglected that my dad was reading the paper! Today, I get all my news from the computer. I check the weather, I check e-mail, I go through my google reader. It's what I do in the mornings. If my children want to tell me something, I can stop and listen to them. It is not necessarily neglect to spend some time reading "your paper" each day. Can it become neglectful? Yes. Of course we should watch how much time we spend on the computer. Of course we should. Is that the reason why there is no clean underwear? This is fixable.

I have told you before that I do not buy into the thought that I should spend hours a day playing with my children. I am certain that families in olden times did not do such a thing. There was far too much work to be done! But I spend time with my children all day long. The key is not telling them to go away, leave you alone, be quiet, hush, go watch a movie, go play in your room, get away from Mommy because I'm BUSY! The key is whatever you are doing, you can be spending time with your children. Wash the dishes while they tell you all about their latest book they wrote. Stop washing and dry your hands off and look at the pictures. Hug them and tell them great job and then finish washing. Stop paying the bills and come out in the yard to see the cool bug they found. The bills will be there when you get back.

It is OK for your children to see you working. Some moms think they have to get everything done that would take their attention away from their children during nap time or after they go to bed. But if you do things that way, they will never see what it means to be a wife and a mom. Let them help you pay bills. Or draw beside you while you work.

Whatever you need to get done today, do it. But stop to look your children in the eyes and listen to them. Offer to read them a book before they even ask you to. We all get behind in things, but you will catch up. Get the rocks done.

And for goodness sakes, smile at your family.

The End.


  1. The rocks... so profound and yet so simple.

    Thanks for this lovely reminder. Spot on, Brenda!

  2. NEEDED this today! was it written BEFORE or after my post.. :)

  3. Brenda you are so dear.I have been spending day after day with my grandma she is 82 and in the ICU. I have really been missing my children and only getting home to fix them meals and bath them and put them to bed the house is falling apart but like you said it is fixable. Thank you LucyT

  4. Before.. good than it was GOD griping at me NOT you! :)

    Today was a good day! We even baked brownies and made Christmas cards... we were full of cheer and some chores even got done in between our other stuff!

  5. Really needed this today. Thank you:)

  6. Wonderful post, Brenda! Delicious link list worthy, in fact.

  7. Very nice. I just facebook emailed you about a certain maternal failure of mine recently, so this made me laugh as I read it. Thank you for the encouragement!

  8. Brenda,

    I just watched an episode of How Clean Is Your House on YouTube (I love that British show!), where the stay at home mom of a 17-month-old was letting her household become squalor because she didn't want housework to interfere with playing with her toddler.

    It was ridiculous! So I love your comment about how it's good for kids to see you working. It absolutely is! But you're absolutely right, too, in that we should give ourselves a break, because dishes from last night not being done does not constitute child abuse. So let's all just chill and get the work done, little by little, and not go to either extreme!

    Sheila from To Love, Honor and Vacuum!

  9. LOVED this. Somehow missed it the other day. Maybe we were puking? Anyway, love it and shared it with the world. My little online world anyway. Thank you, you made my night so much better.

  10. Great post! I, too, feel like a neglector when I see kids looking all polished and my own happily dressed themselves in mismatched patterns.

    I completely agree. I've never been one to play with my kids all day. I am proud that my girls can entertain themselves. But sometimes i do feel like I am not living up to some expectation.

    thanks for this post!

    Merry Christmas!

  11. Sheila, we used to always watch that show!!! Not eiher extreme...I so agree.

    Suzanne, glad to have helped!

  12. Beautiful Brenda. Loved it heaps. I also believe that Mums do house work when the kids are around and occasionally play but I don't know any real homeschool Mums where I live who would honestly say it aloud. Your honesty is gratefully appreciated. I feel perhaps that I just might be okay as a Mum after all :D

  13. AMEN! I am so sharing this one :) As a mom of 5, this has hit home for me. Thank you Brenda.


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)