Our 7-year-old asked to make pancakes the other morning.
“Can I do it all by myself this time, mom?”
Truthfully, I wanted to say no.
I wanted the kitchen I had just cleaned to stay that way for longer than five minutes. I wanted to pour bowls of cereal and sit to drink my coffee while it was still hot. I wanted a slow Sunday morning instead of a busy (and messy) one spent making a hot breakfast.
But instead, I smiled his way and nodded.
I don’t always say yes.
I’m raising three natural-born helpers—but to be honest, even though I’m so proud of their generous hearts, there are a lot of times I don’t really want them to help. Life is busy enough, and sometimes I’m so eager to cross things off my list and move on that letting them pitch in when I know it will take twice as long feels reallllly overwhelming.
But in those moments when I truly don’t feel like adding one more thing, I am reminded: it is worth the time, mess, and patience it takes to teach my kids life skills.
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It is worth fighting the urge to say, “Here, let me do it,” and let them try for themselves.
It is worth the detailed explanation of how to check pockets, spray stains, and pour the right amount of detergent into the washing machine, even if it means there are spills in the process.
It is worth letting my four-year-old mop the kitchen floor, even though we’re trying to get out the door soon and I could finish so much faster.
It is worth showing them how to tuck the corners of the bed just right when it’s late and all I really want to do is crawl under the covers and go to sleep.
It is worth asking them to clean up after themselves even when I know it would be less of a battle to do it myself.
It is worth letting them cook with minimal input, except to remind them to keep their hands away from the hot girdle or to step in and show them that ¼ cup and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda are really not the same at all.
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And it is worth the mess and teaching moments—and yes, laughter—when the mixer gets turned too high of a speed or the pancake accidentally gets flipped right into the bowl of batter.
It’s all worth it—all the big and little things that take time and intention to teach.
How to fold clothes.
Start the dishwasher.
Clean out the lent trap.
Order at a restaurant.
Dump the dirt from the vacuum.
So I’m learning to be a mom who says yes. Not always, but often—because someday when my kids have grown from smart, curious, helpful littles into functioning, capable, independent adults, I know I’ll look back and be so glad I did.
Those pancakes? They took over an hour to make, and the kitchen looked like a bomb had gone off (cleaning up after cooking is the next lesson in the queue), but the pride on my son’s face when he set everyone’s breakfast in front of them is something I’ll never forget.
With every lesson they are growing, and so am I.