There’s a story floating around the internet at the moment about a Mum who got so sick of her daughter’s messy room, that she placed ALL her daughters stuff into bags and was selling them back to her daughter at $25 a bag! Now her daughter didn’t know what was in each bag so it was pot luck as to what she got back when she could afford it. Cell phone, makeup, clothing, laptop, all bundled into rubbish bags not to be seen again until twenty-five bucks was handed over!
I saw so many comments on social media about what an awesome idea this was. How Mum’s around the world were going to take action and do this to their daughters. Why hadn’t someone thought of this earlier, it was sheer brilliance and the answer to teenagers’ messy rooms. Mum’s unite, and let’s tidy the messy bedrooms around the world! Let’s take a stand as parents and teach our daughters a valuable lesson!
Now, don’t get me wrong. Gracie’s room is a constant mess and some days it drives me nuts! There are art supplies and school work all over the floor, there are empty plates and mason jars lining her dresser from her “It’s 10 o’clock and I am thirsty and hungry” raids to the kitchen. There is makeup on the floor, on the dresser and on the mirror! (Really, how can she miss her face and get the mirror, can she even see herself in it?) And there are clothes strewn from here to Kingdom come (Wow, I sound like my mother!) The bed is never made (“Mum, I can’t sleep in a made bed!”) and the washing pile in the corner is growing by the minute (Wait, is that clean clothes I see in the washing pile instead of being put in the drawers like I asked?)
Yes, it is a constant battle in our house, as I’m sure it is in yours!
But if I were to take all of Gracie’s belongs and place them in rubbish bags and make her buy them back from me, what is this teaching her?
That I have all the power and authority?
That she must adhere to my standards?
That I am legalistic and what I say goes?
That it doesn’t matter about how she wants to live?
Where is the grace in all of this?
Now Gracie is a good kid. Actually, she’s pretty jolly fantastic! She is doing great at school, after shifting schools twice in the last 6 months. She attends Church and Youth Group every week. She serves in Children’s Church. She is kind, generous, big-hearted, full of fun & energy and is very respectful. She has a great bunch of friends, and let’s be honest, is nothing like I was at her age….Praise the Lord! She is an incredible daughter and I am beyond blessed.
So if a messy room is as bad as it gets…..I am ok with that! There are way bigger problems in the world than a messy room, and as long as we don’t have a family of mice making their home in her dirty washing pile, I am ok with the mess!
It has taken me a while, but I have learned that Gracie’s messy room is no reflection on me. I don’t need to be embarrassed or ashamed when people come over and spy Gracie’s room on their way to the bathroom. It does not make me a bad mother any more than it makes her a bad daughter! Let’s keep this all in perspective here friends!
The other day, Gracie was at a friends house and I needed my jacket that she had borrowed from me. I knew it was somewhere in her room, so I took a deep breath and entered! Yes, it was a bomb site and I couldn’t see my jacket anywhere. At this point I had 2 options…….grab those rubbish bags and start filling them (to assert my authority, and make her feel bad) or I could start to tidy for her. I didn’t make a big song and dance about it, I didn’t text her and tell her what I was doing, I just tidied. And when I was done her room was spotless and my jacket, along with 3 tops and a pair of jeans I thought I had lost, were now hanging back in my wardrobe!
When she got home later and saw her room, she came running out with a big smile on her face and just hugged me.If I had filled those rubbish bags I have no doubt it would have been a different reception and most probably the start of World War III!
I shared with her later the story of the rubbish bags, and she was quite surprised that I wouldn’t do that to her. (Gosh, maybe I am a more legalistic Mum than I thought!) But I could see the smile as she started to comprehend what I was trying to convey to her.
At that very moment, I was showing her love and grace, which has been extended to me many a time. I was showing her that she matters. That she doesn’t need to live by my standards to be loved and accepted. I was showing unconditional love, and as we sat on the couch and ate Easter Eggs together, I was beyond grateful for the lesson we had both just learnt.