Teach your children well | Living with Gleigh

Ahhh, Mother’s Day – a time for mothers all over to reflect back on everything we’ve done wrong. Well, actually I try not to relive all the moments when I’ve been a less than stellar mother, because, quite frankly, there are probably more than I can count. So what I choose to contemplate on this day when my daughters should be taking care of me, but they still need me to shoot directions from the other room, is that there are still some things I need to teach them.

My ultimate goal in raising my daughters is that they don’t become one of those helpless twenty-somethings when they finally move away from home. I don’t want to hear they put a whole box of detergent in the washing machine because no one showed them how to do laundry (no, we can’t expect they will always read the directions). I don’t want to find out they are driving through McDonald’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner because I didn’t show them how to fix a simple, healthy meal. And I don’t want to find out they don’t know how to buy anything but ice cream when they go grocery shopping.

I think I have all of the above issues covered, except they probably could use a few trips to the grocery store for a lesson on how to pick out produce. And I should probably have a few more cooking lessons on how to cook produce (I’m aiming for healthy here so when they cook at their future home, their diet consists of more than chili dogs).

Although my daughters have no set chores, like cleaning bathrooms on Saturday, they do respond when I ask them to help me pick up. But as I observe their daily actions in my house (they are my guests until they are old enough to get jobs and move away), I believe there are some important things I still need to teach them. Like how the empty hair conditioner bottle makes it out of the bathroom and into the recycle or even what happens to the empty milk jug they set on the counter. Do they ever consider how these things magically disappear?

They also need to learn that the kitchen table, which is a convenient place to set things, doesn’t mysteriously clean itself. The fact that we eat dinner at the kitchen table most nights is a feat of enormous motivation on their mother’s part. They also need to understand that moving stuff from the kitchen table to the coffee table is not considered picking up. Yes, contrary to popular belief, if they pick up an object, moving it into a different room to be in the way is a contradiction of the act of “picking up” (their dad taught them that trick).

I’m sure they don’t understand how our lights stay on and our water keeps flowing (because if they had to pay for it they would take shorter showers). A lesson in utility bills would be a good idea before they get one in the mail someday and wonder what it is. And while I’m at that lesson, I’ll throw one in on the fine art of getting rid of junk mail properly (tear and shred name labels, recycle the rest and don’t forget the hidden name label on the inside of catalogs).

Then I obviously need to sit down show them how to plan some meals, because when they open the full refrigerator on the weekends when I don’t cook and exclaim, “There’s nothing to eat!” I know I have failed to show them how to put food together to create a meal.

So as I reflect on another Mother’s Day, I know I am not yet finished. I will persevere in teaching my children well. I have time; I will be their mother forever.

Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is committed to teaching her children well for the rest of her life. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website or on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh.” Her column is available every week at under the Lifestyles section.

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