My dear children,
I guess we have all adjusted to the quarantine these past weeks. As our stay-out helpers were not able to come back before the lockdown, I’m thankful that you’ve stretched yourselves a lot in helping around the house. After observing all of us for about a month, I want to share some thoughts, as the lockdown might take a bit longer.
I see this situation as an opportunity for us to be more united, to serve one another and work together as a family. While many of our poor countrymen don’t have anything to eat, our concern is, who will do the dishes? I can simply ask everyone to stretch one’s capabilities, but I think it is more important to assess our attitude and character in fulfilling our responsibilities at home.
Dad and I had been hoping all of you would develop life skills you would need when it’s time to be on your own, and that you would somehow opt to serve one another. I now realize this quarantine time is bringing out the best in us, and that our character is being developed through these things we are learning at home.
I would like to thank all of you for helping out in many ways:
Jeremy, for consistently folding clothes, setting the table, hanging clothes and anything to do with clothes. One time you folded 70 pieces of clothing. That really made me proud of you!
Daniel, for being an all-around—watering plants, carrying heavy stuff for me, washing dishes and even talking to the dogs at this lonely time.
Hannah, for cooking and baking, cleaning your own room and toilet until it’s spic and span, and organizing the dishes. You’ve done all these while preparing to graduate from high school in a month.
Sam, my youngest (a chef in the making, I believe), for waking up early, cooking your own breakfast, sometimes cooking for us, and washing dishes, including pots and pans. If anything is in a mess, you take care of it immediately.
Dad’s level of cooking skills has definitely improved. He can now fry eggs, cook rice and make simple dishes!
He often appreciates my cooking and told me once, “The way to a man’s heart is really through his stomach.” Then I replied, “The way to a woman’s heart is for the husband to wash the dishes after.” To his credit, he has now become my designated and loyal dishwasher. And he does it willingly even in the midst of his work-at-home schedule. I love him more for that.
Adjustments without helpers
I never experienced a life without at least one help, so I’ve made adjustments in my attitude, too. At first, I was overwhelmed with the work to be done. But after a few weeks, I realized I’ve been set free from always being dependent on the help. The work I’m doing has also given me a greater appreciation of those who serve us at home.
Through the years, I’ve learned that one’s goal in life should not be just happiness. I believe we are in this world to bless others by using our strengths and abilities. As we become a blessing to others, there is a certain peace that fulfills us. And what better place to start than from within, in our home, where there are many opportunities to serve one another. This should be true in a Christian home. Our actions should match our words.
Here are just some of my loving admonitions to you, my children, during this season in our family life:
Don’t let the morning pass without fixing your beds and your rooms, not just doing so when you feel like it. A mark of growth is developing self-discipline. The more self-discipline a person has, the less the need for external discipline. And it all starts right in your bedrooms.
Kindly wash dishes as soon as you see some piling up. Don’t let them become a big heap before one person has to wash all of them. Let’s be a team rather than work individually. When everyone does his or her part, the burden of doing chores is lightened for all. In the outside world, people accomplish much because they learn to work as a team.
For those who find cooking or another chore challenging, take small steps. Be willing to learn to cook simple dishes first. Believe me, once you’ve cooked something simple and are satisfied, you will want to do more. The goal is to not to just be independent of a cook or of me, but to be independent for life as you will definitely need these skills in the future. Learning new things will always be a part of life and will enrich you.
There are times I need help spontaneously. For instance, it’s difficult for me to wash dishes right after cooking, as heat and immediate water don’t work well for the hands. When I call you, your willingness to help will be much appreciated. Even if certain chores are assigned to you, be willing to do more. We can’t say, “I’m done with my chore and my responsibility for the day. Goodbye!”
We all have our comfort zones. But when we step out of them and do more than what is expected, something amazing happens. We unleash our potential and become the best version of ourselves.
I’d like to share two important things I’d often heard from my elders but didn’t take seriously. Now that I’m a parent myself, I realize the truth behind them.
First: “Charity begins at home.” Love, kindness and service begin at home. It’s easy to love friends and people outside the home because we don’t live with them or serve them on a daily basis, or put up with their habits. But we live day in and day out with our family. The first test of love is how we consistently demonstrate our deep concern for one another despite our individual shortcomings.
Second: There are many things we don’t want to do in life, but we must do them anyway because we must face the mundane demands of day-to-day living. I’m sure you are all familiar with the verse in the Bible which says that if we are faithful with the little things (which for now are these chores at home), we will be entrusted with greater things.
When you start your own families, or if you decide to live alone as single professionals, fulfilling your responsibilities will be a breeze because you already had a headstart in this home.
Thank you for listening. I love and appreciate each one of you.
The author is a homemaker and is married to Manny Carlos, a pastor from Victory Christian Fellowship. They have two young-adult and two teenage children.