The grumbles: Lessons I’ve learned from listening to my kids complain about cleaning

I learn lots of things from my kids like dinosaur facts I never knew and stories of Greek gods that I’ve forgotten. I learn things like trashcans lined with plastic bags come in handy when they’re sick. I learn things about myself like how little sleep I actually can function on and how much love my heart has in it. And I learn more about my relationship with God.

In my head I know the Bible tells us God’s love for us is so tremendous and more than any of us can fathom. I believe that, but since I truly can’t fathom it, I think it must be close to what I feel for my children. Sometimes my kids’ behavior shows me how I must look to God.

One of the chores my kids have is to clean their bathroom. When we moved into our new house last April, they got their own bathroom to share. I gave them the chore of cleaning it. I showed them exactly how to do it. I’ve given them follow-up lessons and set reasonable expectations. Their weekly chores are cleaning the sink, emptying the trash, restocking toilet paper and cleaning the toilet. Sometimes they also clean the mirror. I take care of the floors and shower/tub. Pretty straight forward.

When we were first getting started with cleaning, they didn’t mind it so much and set out with the idea that they’d rotate the chores so one person wasn’t stuck with one job all the time. They had a good attitude about it. But as time went on and they were putting those cleaning lessons into practice, I started hearing some bickering and some grumbling. They’d bicker about who was doing what chore, and they’d grumble about having to clean the bathroom instead of play.

As I was listening to them grumble and grouse a few weeks ago, I felt God prick my heart. Sometimes when He gives me chores or tasks or purpose, I set forth with a crummy attitude. I grouse and grumble. I huff and roll my eyes. Parenthood itself is a prime example. God has blessed me with these two beautiful children and trusted their care to me. However, how many times have I grumbled and complained (even just internally) about all the work involved in taking care of little humans? How many times have I felt angry about it even? So. Many. Times!

I am so far from perfect. I know that sometimes I whine and carry on like a child. Just as I don’t stop loving my kids when they grumble about doing a chore, God doesn’t stop loving me. I know that they are learning good lessons. They are learning responsibility. They are learning how to clean a bathroom, which will be a good skill to have once they grow up and have their own place. They are learning to work together, even though sometimes it’s a rocky partnership. I can tick all these reasons off in my head. I can even tell them to my children (and have mentioned a couple of them!), but they don’t really understand what I mean. They’re 6 and 9. They don’t have the life experience needed to appreciate these kind of lessons.

All of that sounds just like God and me. Each time I face a trial or have a task He’s brought me to, I’m learning lessons. I may grumble and not see the lesson, but He knows it all along and uses it for my best. I don’t have the life experience and heavenly perspective to fully understand what’s happening. That’s what I have to remember when I’m grumbling and grousing.

This past weekend, my kids taught me another lesson with this same scenario. I was cleaning my bathroom while they were cleaning theirs and could hear my son start singing while they were cleaning. He did a short rendition of “Go Tell it on the Mountain.” Within a couple of minutes, both kids were singing together a few different songs, including “Count on Me” from Bruno Mars, which is a song my daughter is learning in music class. I smiled at their cuteness.

What a difference in attitude just singing some songs made. What a difference music makes! I’ve shared before how much music ministers to my soul. It reminded me that if I have the right song in my heart, my tasks and trials are easier to face. If I’m listening to music that reminds me to keep my focus on God, everything goes better and my grousing dies down.

Then, of course, the song they switched to spoke to me as well. “Count on Me” is not a Christian song, but it has a great message. I hope and pray that my kids can always count on each other. The song is a great reminder that no matter what is happening, life is easier with someone to help you along. God has blessed me so that I don’t have to go through trials and do chores alone. Not only is He always with me, but He’s also give me a great support system through my husband, kiddos and extended family. He didn’t just plop me here and tell me to get it all done alone.

Does all of this learning mean I’ll never have a bad attitude or grumble again? I’d love to say yes, but I know the answer is no. I’m human. I fall short so many times. I have bad days and days that I feel bad. My frustration levels rise, my patience shortens and I just get grumbly. But I’ll keep trying and asking God for His help through it all. And I think turning to Him is the greatest lesson of all for me to learn.

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