We’re Taking Back Our House, Kids…

Long-term readers of Herding Cats in Hammond River are probably aware of my love for the ABC sitcom, The Middle.  I wrote about their Mother’s Day show here:


I don’t think I’ve laughed as hard or as loud at a show as I did at the episode of The Middle that aired last night!  I swear that ABC has video cameras hidden in my house…this program is my life!  Here’s a video clip (please watch – it’s essential to the post):


Sadly, Jim and I are “Mike” and “Frankie.”  We spend most of our time making ourselves crazy/miserable/tired so that our children will be “happy”…I don’t think they appreciate how much we do for them!  We do their laundry and dishes, spend massive amounts of money to feed and clothe them, and drive them anywhere they want to go.  When we plan meals, the menu’s based on their likes/dislikes, not ours!  We listen to their music (they whine when we put ours on) and watch their TV shows (seriously, people…how long can one watch Family Channel before losing one’s sanity?)!  When the kids tell us they need something for a homework assignment (that they’ve known about for weeks), it’s usually the day before it’s due…we drop everything and run to the store to get the posterboard/modelling clay/three-humped camel that they need for their project.  We used to get away twice a year for a long weekend without kids…there were no trips for Jim and I in 2010…we were too busy and too broke (although somehow we managed to scrape together the money to take them to PEI for three days, and go to Sandspit and the go-cart park)!

I spent three hours folding laundry (there were 10 loads or so) on SUNDAY night.  Mine, Jim’s, Devin’s and my dad’s clothes are put away.  Four days later, the neatly-folded girls’ clothes are still taking up two chairs in my living room!  I refuse to cave this time…they’re putting them away, not me! 

When I came home from the store on Monday night, the dishwasher was full, and still had not been run (it was full when I left in the morning).  “You didn’t tell us to run it, Mom!” Anna protested.  Really?  Three teenagers home all day, and nobody thought to turn it on?

Since Tuesday, Jim has been getting up early every morning on his week off to take Devin to driving lessons (to be fair, this was Devin’s mom’s idea, not his!).  I’m sure Jim would rather sleep in…

Tuesday night, I went to the kitchen to get a glass…there was a lone plastic cup in the cupboard, which normally houses in excess of two dozen drinking vessels!  I’m sure there are dirty glasses in every room in my house, except the kitchen!  The same people who hoard sticky, crusty glasses in their bedrooms will be the ones complaining when the dishwasher doesn’t get them clean! 

Yesterday, Jim spent the day installing the new computer he built Dad for the bookstore.  We went out for lunch (to a place which doesn’t serve its food in cardboard containers)…it was glorious!  It’s been way too long since we did that!  We’re going out again on January 22nd to a concert…no kids then, either! 

So…I’m drawing my line in the sand…things are going to change around here, from now on!  I urge other parents of teenagers who find themselves in this rut to stand up with us and take back your houses!   

We’ll start with dinner tonight…guess what, girls?  We’re having fish, because Jim and I like fish!  If that’s not good enough for you, there are Pizza Pops in the freezer…the microwave’s over there!  After supper, we’re going to watch Eureka on the big TV in the living room…and then maybe we’ll put on a record and dance…flee to your bedrooms if you must!


Filed under family, food, rants, satire, self-discovery

56 responses to “We’re Taking Back Our House, Kids…

  1. planejaner

    (Let me know if you are still alive tomorrow…then, maybe I’ll give it a try…)
    and…enjoy your fish. 😉

    • Did you watch the video, Jane? I think “The Middle” should be required viewing for every parent of teenagers! Yes…I think I’ll cook salmon this evening, and perhaps some scallops if I can get them…yummy! Hugs, Wendy

  2. duke1959

    You have such a wonderful life!

  3. Marvelous post, Wendy! I wish you success. And I know you’ll be alive tomorrow! Come on, Jane. Your turn!

  4. duke1959

    Having never had children cherish each second with yours.

  5. I saw the episode and it was fantastic. I’m with you, Wendy. Wonder where I can find a Little River Band cover band to kick things off? Ha! Hugs, Diane

  6. planejaner

    I did watch the video–I was howling.
    My son, in the other room, said, “Mom–why is that so funny??”

  7. Good for you! You go, girl!

  8. Another inspirational post – I think my post this evening will be in a similar vein. I was only thinking the same thing myself today about my life. I’m currently sitting here on the laptop whilst the tv is used for xboxing. :/

    • The crazy thing, Lady Justine, is that we have four operational TV’s in the house, but only one is rigged to PVR, and only two have Netflix capability. The kids have XBox and Wii, and lots of DVDs as well. They all have computers, and the girls have iPods too! Hope you get your TV back soon! Wendy

  9. izziedarling

    You go, girl! My casa is kept fairly neat and tidy with some exceptions (shut up, Idiot); College Girl has been popping in and out over the break and after she uses anything, it becomes invisible to her. Sheesh! I feel your pain. Great post, Miss Wendy!

  10. I’ll be curious to follow your success. My three God’s-Gift-to-the-Universe-and-Beyond kids are now in their 30s, and I find myself happily turning into a door mat that ASKS for abuse (“Do you have anything you’d like me to wash?” “Would you like me to fresh-squeeze your orange juice?” “Don’t bother to wash my car after you’ve used it for a week. I’ll take care of it.”) I need a support group. Seriously.

    • Hi Rene: Waiting on them after they’ve left home is different…you’re probably happy they took the time to come and see you, and you know that they’ll be leaving in a few hours or days…my offspring have a few more years before they leave the nest! I’m sure you’re a great mom! Wendy

  11. Ever think about doiing a reality show, Wendy–I would definitely watch. Can’t wait to follow your “culture war”–which is essentially what you’re doing–redefining the cultural terms by which your household operates.

    Interesting show–“The Middle”–not having access to American TV, I’m missing what’s new (and even not so new) in popular culture. I think I would like it.

    • I don’t think we’re reality show material, Kathy…we’re far too boring! “The Middle” is unique because it is really close to daily life for a lot of North American families…it doesn’t have a lot of “pretty people”…just folks trying to make it through the day… Wendy

  12. Good luck! The time for negotiation has passed!

  13. Satya

    I read your blog today and laughed all over again. Last night, my kids and I watched the same episode of The Middle, too! We were all in hysterics, they also looked a bit worried too because they saw the look on my face while I laughed hysterically, and my agreement at the script comments on the show.

    This morning, without further ado in my old patterns, I got up, dressed, got my breakfast, said hi to each, and disappeared into other areas of the house far away from them, before they could whine too loudly, mostly my son, which is more like a roar (he’s 12). My son had to got his own cereal after a bit of waiting for me to cave, something he could have been doing for the past, well 4 years or so. My daughter subtly whined (she’s 10) went past me, to the kitchen and got everything she needed. Hmmm…maybe it won’t be so bad…for her anyway. For my son, that is gonna be a bit of work. I’ve tried this before and since I’ve caved in before (to my own amazement, not theirs), they really think I will this time. But I’m not, I swear…

  14. LOVE IT! The clip was so true to life – especially because I type this while watching PBS Kids, in my toy-strewn living room while contemplating how to fit in a dinner the kids will eat before Cub Scouts. 🙂


  15. I’m so glad it’s not just me. Because of work schedules, I usually cook dinner, and it’s impossible, because the kids won’t touch the stuff Sweetie and I like, so when I do make something good and/or healthy, I end up making a second dinner for Things 1 and 2. It’s nuts.

    • They’ve got you trained early, Todd! It’s just like they said on the show…our parents didn’t make two meals for us! I can remember my brother sitting at the table for an hour or two after supper because he refused to eat his peas (he was four). If the kids get hungry enough, they will eat… I compromised a bit tonight…I cooked tater tots to go with the salmon, but I also made a lovely spinach salad with mandarin oranges, almonds and poppy seed dressing (Anna and Brianna ate leftover chicken burgers, Devin ate the fish, and Hope was at her dad’s, but she would have eaten the fish if she were here!).

      The funny thing is, I don’t think any of the kids have read my blog yet, and only one of them saw the show! They have no idea what they’re in for! Wendy

  16. Sounds like you and Jim are on your way to a great new time in your lives. I hope it works out and everyone respects your time to do things you enjoy!

  17. Teenagers do have a way of taking over, but it’s kind of that way from the start, right? The older the kids, the bigger the things, the more space it all requires.

    You’re a good mom, Wendy. Nothing wrong with reclaiming yourself and your space a little. So kudos to you and Jim! 🙂

  18. 🙂 I’m smiling, Wendy because now that my kids have moved out we are now the boss of us…Wheee

    I can SO relate to this post, though. The memories are still fresh!

  19. Your home is much different than mine. We eat what i cook. If I cook, I run a business that requires a team effort–the reality I share- if we want to keep the house, I have to keep my business and I can not do that alone. Dirty dishes are returned to kitchen each and every night and loaded in the dish washer. Clothes are picked up off the floor and hung up or put away every single night. I believe a tidy room is a battle worth fighting. We do real work together, Cole earns real money and is allowed a lot of trust and freedoms other kids are not. I am willing to drive him miles to see friends, because he gets up at 6am to help me let out dogs. Its not tit for tat but it is give and take.
    I’m not a perfect parent, I have failures every single day and regrets but there is no way I will ever allow my kid to treat me as the hired help or freeload off family life. His father would never have stood for it and neither will his mom
    Stay Strong. Change does not happen overnight but starting is the hardest part.

  20. More POWER to you girl!!! Go Wendy!!

    The fact that I already understand and empathize with you, when Ishaan is not even 3 yet, is SCARY!! Although I don’t have it anywhere as bad as you do…especially with the TV and the laundry!! Maybe it’s coz I was exactly like your teens once upon a time and sometimes still turn into one 😛 I blame it on the fact that I’m living with my parents again!

    Here’s hoping you & Jim enjoy that fish and the dancing that comes after 😀

    Hugs, H.

    • Thanks, Harsha! The fish was delicious, but we didn’t get to dance…Jim was playing a new video game with the kids! We did watch Big Bang Theory though, which is one of our favourite shows! I think if you start early, you’ll be okay with Ishaan…he’s at the age now where kids love to help…I didn’t take advantage of it when my kids were three, and I’m paying for it now! Wendy

  21. Oh Wendy they must have the same video camera in my house as well. The kids all occupy the recliners and couch in the livingroom with the big tv. Only one of them ever offers to give their Dad his chair. I’m with you…it’s time to take back our home from the kids.

    Just this morning I am up early doing all the dishes from the kids making themselves supper. Dean and I had to work late. I took yesterday afternoon off of work to help my daughter Anna pick out a big boy bed for our grandson. I paid for the bed. I thought at least she would have cleaned up the kitchen. Nope!!!

    • Yay, Jeanne…we’ll do it together! We are parents…hear us roar! Wendy

      • I roared at lunchtime when I went home and found the two girls had done absolutely nothing all morning. They said they were celebrating their last day of Christmas break by being lazy all day.

        They start college classes on Monday again. I worked a full-time job and went to college at the same time. They just attend college. Anna has baby Jack to take care of but Christy should have been at work today.

        I gave them a short list of things that had better be done when I get home from work . Just heading home now to see how much good it did.

      • Today went pretty well for me, Jeanne, because Jim was home to “crack the whip” (I left a list too!). Not sure how things will be when he goes back to work next week… Good luck!


  22. You may not believe this about me Wendy, but I’ve already raised 2 teenagers (shh, it’s a secret ;-). I fought those wars. More amazing was what could happen when they swung by with friends for as little as a half hour! When 4 teenagers decide to have after school cereal and drinks look out. Even scarier if they use the stove!

    Of course, I was also once that teenager that had selective blindness around the kitchen and I always knew I was being repaid fourfold for the sins of my youth against me hard-working mom. If nothing else, you still get to wish the curse of children just like them on your sweeties 🙂

  23. That was a great clip. The look of the house is what really struck me. I have one son (23, oh pray he gets a job in his field this year) and the clutter and piles of paper and soda cans here and there, and just stuff makes me crazy. I noticed the Middles house had that look. Well I live in the Midwest, maybe its inevitable. My husband is a huge packrat as well so just getting kids to move out might not be a solution. Also a fan of Big Bang!
    Stick to it, you’ll be doing those kids a favor (and yourself)

  24. s

    I am doing this as a single parent, and it is hard. 2nd day, okay, but CRanky son-I’m staying away from his room and he when he goes through his adjustments to this new way of living. It’s gonna be a long few weeks to acclimate them, but I’ve heard it takes 21 days to make a habit and break a habit, so that is what I’m holding onto!

    • Good luck with it, froggybloggy! I was a single parent for 11 years (three girls) before I found Jim…that’s probably when a lot of my problem started, because I was so busy working, that I wasn’t around much to get them to do things! Thanks for stopping by! Wendy

  25. You GO, sister!

    Can I ever relate to the individually tailored meals. This one doesn’t like baked potatoes, that one doesn’t like mashed potatoes, neither like chicken or meatloaf. Even the McDonald’s orders had special requests! If I didn’t like what was served for dinner, I went hungry.

    My favorite: “You didn’t tell us to [insert task]!” Story of my life.

    Now, get out there and have another nice lunch or dinner with your husband! And laugh, because otherwise we cry and yell like crazy women (at least I do). Once the boys had me so flustered doing all of the work that, in response to one of their requests, I meant to respond, “I’m a little busy!” but instead shouted, “I’m a little DIZZY!”

    • Thanks, AA…I’ve been surprised at how many people can relate to our dilemma…at least yours are gone now! I’ve got a good 6 or 8 years left (optimistically) until our “nest” is empty! I can relate to being so upset I couldn’t speak properly…I say crazy things all the time! Wendy

      • They may be gone, but old habits never die! I still get “You didn’t tell us/me to empty the dishwasher!” Or run the dishwasher, or on and on. It’s no wonder we moms talk like crazy women sometimes!

  26. Hippie Cahier

    Vive la Revolution! (Good luck!)

  27. Ah, Wendy, hang tough! This is a losing battle you fight — unless you start early (and “teens” aren’t early!). Nevertheless, I’m betting on you, as you seem to have reinforcement with Jim. Just remember, this, too, shall pass, and one day, they’ll be off in college and you can fully reclaim your house!

  28. Pingback: Bits and Pieces… « Herding Cats in Hammond River

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