Driving down Northwest Highway the other day, I was dutifully transporting children from one school to another when my 13-year old son, who sat shotgun, said something that almost made me sick. Typical Dallas, we were surrounded by opulence – on our left was a Lexus, our right a Porsche and directly in front a silver Mazarati.

“Mom. Which one of those do you think I would look best in? I think the Porsche. Yeah. That’s what car I’m going to get when I’m 16.”

Fighting back the nausea, I look at him. “What planet are you on? … And how do you think you will pay for one of those cars?” A question I know had no answer, since his primary activity involves a screen and remote control.

Who is raising him??!! Is that ALL he thinks about – money? Where have all my words of wisdom gone? The hours of modeling service — the countless lectures on being content with what you have — and all the well-thought-out soliloquies I’ve delivered on the fact that “stuff” will never really satisfy you.

I drop him off at school and exited the parking lot disturbed. As I passed through the last school zone on my way home, I dialed my sister-in-law and one of my best friends. Not only did I need to vent to someone, I needed reassurance that I wasn’t crazy and that there is a light at the end of this monetary, self-centered teenager tunnel. She delivered on the former, but couldn’t help much with the latter since she has a few slackers of her own. The more we talked, the more I realized something incredibly sobering (and a bit disgusting.)

Our homes (and I’m talking most American families) are epicenters of entitlement. Somewhere along the way, we have opted to adhere to the philosophy of Vladimir Lenin’s socialism – punting capitalism and all the accompanying hard work. We are raising, and have raised, generations who believe the world is here to serve them.

And why not? That’s what I’m doing in my house. I’m embarrassed to admit that not one of my 5 children know how to do their own laundry. Not one can clean a bathroom … I mean really clean it. Not one can cook, serve and clean up a full dinner (frozen pizza or chicken nuggets don’t count). I’m not sure my 7-year-old can even cut his own waffles. Ugh! Okay, so they can do a lot of things. They are genuinely great kids. But if I’m being honest, they are getting a sweet free ride … especially in their home life.

It really hit me when my 7th grader, the one who plans on driving the Porsche at 16, brought home a school assignment. His English teacher had assigned a five minute “declamation”. The task: pick a speech, writing, something quotable that is of interest, commit 5 minutes of it to memory, then recite it in front of the class. Well, my kid, following in his mother’s footsteps, procrastinated to the point of the teacher choosing his passage for him. He came home with Teddy Roosevelt’s address to the Hamilton Club in Chicago in 1899 entitled “The Strenuous Life”.

I tried, with no success, to hold back my laughter when I read what my slightly lazy, “what’s the least I can do to get it done” teenager had to memorize for his assignment. Here’s brief portion of what T.R. has to say about hard work.


In speaking to you, men of the greatest city of the West, men of the State which gave to the country Lincoln and Grant, men who preëminently and distinctly embody all that is most American in the American character, I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.

A life of slothful ease, a life of that peace which springs merely from lack either of desire or of power to strive after great things, is as little worthy of a nation as of an individual. I ask only that what every self-respecting American demands from himself and from his sons shall be demanded of the American nation as a whole. … ”

(for the full speech, see: The Strenuous Life)

Oh there is much more. And it’s incredibly convicting. T.R. would be turning over in his grave to know what we have done to the country that he and so many other diligent and driven founders of our nation worked SO hard to create. Uhm… I’m afraid to say that my kids would probably be the ones opting for “mere easy peace” … for sure shrinking from “hardship” and “bitter toil” … who wouldn’t? Well, apparently T.R. wouldn’t. Our founding fathers wouldn’t. Bill Gates wouldn’t. Mother Teresa wouldn’t.

Okay, the list could go on … and I could feel more and more like a failure. But that’s not the end of the story. Right Paul Harvey?!

The first step? Admit my problem. {I am an enabling mother}

Second step. Quit! I want to be a recovering enabler. I want to stop being a MAT and be a proud MOAT … one that serves its purpose instead of letting my kids control the drawbridge.

Thus the reason behind this blog. I’m not a blogger. I don’t really know any girls my age that blog (I’m 44, btw … and have only recently joined Facebook … I still use a landline and sometimes even handwrite a note … oh, yeah, I also write checks. My friend Lynn opened a whole new world for me when she introduced me to the power of the debit card. I honestly didn’t know you could check out at Costco with a debit card. I’m the one everyone would be cursing under their breath as my antiquated form of payment required filling out three lines and a signature).

Well, I’m taking back my home – leaving socialism and all its entitlements behind. These kids are going to get a taste of what life is. Not what they think it is supposed to be … but the real stuff. Making beds, cooking, cleaning, washing, paying their dues. Who knows, I might even introduce the concept of rent. . …. I’ll have to run that one by Jon. Anyway, I am now determined (at least today, remember I’m a procrastinator) that they are going to walk out of this house ready to serve the world, not to have it serve them.

For years, when my kiddos were little, I was involved in MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers), a terrific organization that really helped me by providing a forum to gain invaluable parenting tips during the preschool years. I have long since yearned for the same thing to help me as a Mother of Adolescents and Teens. I realized that even if it existed, I wouldn’t be able to go. I’m too busy carting everyone, helping with homework, yadda, yadda, yadda…

So I’m hoping that maybe this could be a forum for women in the same boat. Whatever tidbits of wisdom I get from moms that have walked the road we trod, I will post it. Whatever mistakes I’ve made or learned from … they’re coming your way. This may be a new forum for many of us (the blogging thing) but it is probably the most efficient and logical.

I need accountability, encouragement and suggestions. My children don’t have any idea what is about to hit them. They are about to be revolutionized and I’m inviting you along for the ride. Maybe you might want to join us. Whatever the case, feel free to let me know what you think and please pass it along. I learned a while ago, the ride isn’t much fun alone … a few friends and some sound advice can smooth the bumps and keep the detours at a minimum.

That’s all for now. I guess thanks for letting me spew. My next post will feature “Operation Bed-Making and Clutter Control”. Here’s what I’m up against:

girl's room

Girls’ room

boy's room

Boys’ room

oops, that's my bed

oops… that’s my bed – guess the apples don’t fall too far from the tree :)

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