To call my daughter “sassy” would be a little like calling Hitler “unfriendly.” I love her to death, but the girl has got some sass …

As you know, we are cleaning, packing, and baking for our week-long end-of-summer family vacation. I’m loading the dishwasher, summiting Mt. Laundry, and packing for four. I’ve asked my kids to pick up the play room and put their toys away. We’re not actually minimizing anything today, mind you, just putting away the items we’ve chosen to keep. Because, as a little gift to our family, I’d like to return from our vacation relaxed, refreshed, sun-kissed, and able to enjoy our last few days of summer in a clean house, before submerging ourselves again in the daily grind.

So, as I pull a fresh batch of brownies out of the oven, I tell my hovering son that the brownies will be cool just in time for them to finish picking up their toys, and then we’ll take a break and have a snack. He runs upstairs to tell his sister that they can have some brownies as soon as they finish cleaning. She sits stubbornly on the couch and says “well, you tell Momma that if we can’t have any brownies, then she can’t have any brownies either.” It’s a good thing I learned patience a long time ago. So, as all good parents do, I recognize this as an ideal “teachable moment.” I set the hot brownies on the stove, trudge up the stairs, and ask her to go take a look around the house–at the kitchen where I’ve just finished washing the dishes she eats from. At the laundry room where I am washing the clothes she needs to pack to go on this trip. At the bathrooms where I’ve scrubbed the facilities that she uses every day. At the dining room table where I’ve just cleaned up her art projects. At the living room where I’ve just picked up the toys she left out this morning. She disappears for a few minutes, while my son snuggles up next to me and tells me “I get it, Momma. We’ll clean up our toys while you do all of that other work.” Soon, my daughter returns. To inform me that there are still some clothes on the bathroom floor that I’ve missed.

A few minutes later, as I’m attending to those clothes that must have somehow slipped off my radar, my son comes down with crocodile tears to complain that it has been a “hard day.” I sit down to hold him and comfort him. I know it’s rough for kids to clean up … especially when they know this is the day we are leaving for their favorite place on Earth. They are so anxious to get packed up and loaded in the car for the day-long drive. They’ve been marking this day on the calendar for weeks. So, to wake up and learn we have to clean the house first is a bit of a disappointment. I get that. But this is not a “hard day,” I explain to him. A “hard day” is when a little boy wakes up in the woods under a tarp with his family because they’ve just lost (or never had) a home. He’s damp and cold because it rained last night and he only has one set of clothes. And he’s crying because his belly is so hungry that it hurts, and his Momma doesn’t know when is the next time she will be able to find something for him to eat. That, my friend, is a hard day. Not a day that your Momma asks you to spend a few minutes organizing the 200-square-foot room dedicated entirely to your toys and entertainment, while you are so warm from this heated, well-insulated house, that you have to take off one of your MANY sets of clothes, and whine your way around this house in protest that we have not yet left for our week-long vacation.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that my children are young, and this process of minimizing is a whole “new normal” for them. I’m not trying to guilt them into a new way of living. But, this is exactly the type of perspective I’ve been trying to gain for my family … a lesser focus on material goods and a greater focus on how a large percentage of this entire world lives, so we can start focusing on what is really important …

Like team work and compassion and empathy. Or, “a little less sass and a lot more action,” as I like to describe it.


About Not-so-SuperMomma

See my previous blog at to learn about how I used to be a SuperMom ...
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3 Responses to Perspective

  1. Pingback: Progress Report | The Minimal Challenge

  2. Debbie says:

    This is a beautiful post. A lesson for when I have my own children. You sound like you have your priorities in order!

    • Thank you. As a mother, I think that may be one of the nicest compliments I’ve received. We try so hard to do the right things for our children, but we’re all beginners when it comes to parenting our children, because each one is so unique. I hope I have my priorities in order. Every day is a new learning experience. 🙂

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