Single Mom Sorting – And I Don’t Mean the Laundry

Laundry discipline picOne of the most common aspects of my day is laundry!  May I be candid for a moment?  I dislike it…immensely.

There is just so much of it. Always.  I’ve written about it before (Tripping Over Baskets).  Today, I have another spin on it.

Last week I told my oldest daughter that it was her job to make sure all the laundry was sorted and put away.  Her first effort took a very long time – cell phone and iPod issues – and the resulting “sorting and putting away” definitely left a lot to be desired.  She knows how to do it well so it is not a measure of learning a skill.  I tried to kindly point out that tossing the “folded” clothes on the floor just inside a bedroom door did not equate to putting them away.  She seemed incredulous.

So this week, she hasn’t attempted to sort, fold or put away anything.  Maybe she’s forgotten.  Maybe she’s not realized that I was serious.  Oh I’m serious.  You should see my kitchen table…actually you can.  I’ve attached a picture.  There are presently 8 loads of laundry waiting to be dealt with as well as one in the dryer and one in the washer.  I’m making sure all the laundry that needs to be done is done and ready for her.

Tonight is Friday night.  It’s usually the hang out and watch a movie night.  My daughter is going to be dealing with a lot of laundry while she watches.

I’m sharing this story not to malign my daughterin any way.  In fact, this issue is mostly mine.  When my husband left and I became a full-time single momma I think I made a tactical mistake in my mind and heart.  I began to treat my children as the victims of some terrible thing.  I cuddled and coddled and cared for completely.  I didn’t ask a lot of my kids.  I just felt that they had been through enough and I wanted them to have fun and enjoy themselves as much as possible.  To some degree, I don’t believe it was even a conscious decision on my part – I just did it.  Boy, did I make a HUGE mistake!

In the last few months I’ve become acutely aware that I have raised children who feel they are entitled to anything and everything, who believe that I’m here to serve them (one has even said that in not so many words), who have an excuse for everything, and who are becoming a bit more disrespectful of my role as Momma than I’d like.   Not all my children are like this – only 2 really.  Unfortunately, it’s the two I really need to step up and help a bit more.  I believe I’ve not done well in the last few years teaching them about having a servant’s heart. My goal now is to assist them in developing the habit of helpfulness and a willingness to work.

I’m trying to figure out how to accomplish that goal. Talking to them doesn’t work.  Yelling at them definitely doesn’t work.  And I’m not great at keeping up with charts and stickers and such – plus they are a bit old for that.

My first plan involves this laundry.  I can’t tell you how desperately tired I am of having all this laundry piled on one side of my kitchen table.  I just want to do it – which has been my standard response for the last couple of years.  I just do it – just get it done – most of the time I feel I can do it faster and better anyway.  I have done no favors for my children by taking over everything in the house.

I’m praying for a change in our family.  For God to give me strength to do the hard work of raising my children well.  I have no doubt that my kids will be a bit “put-out”…probably a bit fussy verbally as well.  I think I can handle it.  What I can’t handle is raising children who don’t care, who don’t help, and who don’t take responsibility.

Even though we have gone through some difficult stuff, I should still be parenting in a way that equips my children to be respectful, godly men and women who desire to serve, love and be responsible, honorable and kind.

Phase one of my plan.  That laundry is sitting there until that beautiful young woman gets to sorting.  And next time I ask for someone to do something they don’t get to keep electronics or watch TV or nuthin’ until it’s done!  Lord, please give me strength to follow thru.

Hebrews 12:11-14 “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  Therefore, lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather healed.  Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” 

This verse is the one I’m holding on to right now – memorizing to be exact.  I believe those drooping hands and weak knees are mine and that the straight path is what I know God is calling me to walk – the path God is calling me to lead my children on.  Discipline is going to seem painful to all of us…me as the trainer and my children who are being trained.  And as I work to lead my children, God is going to train me as well.

My children and I definitely need some healing – both from the actions of their father, but also because I, like every parent, have made mistakes.  God is gracious and compassionate and He will heal , bless and grace us with His peace and love.  He always has and always will.  That “peace with everyone” that the verse speaks of – for me right now I believe that will be the outcome of a house where everyone respects and loves well – a home where we all value each other and seek to serve and love through our actions, words and thoughts.    I’m grabbing hold of this verse and believing that God will get us there!

And I’m patiently waiting for some laundry to be done.  That’d sure give me some peace.

By Sue Birdseye

Single, divorced Mama of 5 - walking this path with a lot of hope in my Lord and a fair amount of humor at life! Praying that you will be blessed, encouraged and find something to chuckle about in this ridiculously exhausting, chaotic single parent life.


  1. Susan, I’ve read your blog for a while now, and I wanted to make a few comments.
    First, don’t mix laundry! Each child should haven their own basket and laundry is done separately. I think several of your children seem old enough to do their own laundry. With 3 boys, there was no way to sort laundry. This is a lifesaver!
    Second, you seem to accept that your life is supposed to be chaotic, you will be disorganized, perpetually late and make other Moms feel better about themselves. I totally disagree. God does not want you to live in chaos. Don’t accept that your life is chaos. Change your thinking.

    Last and please don’t take offense at this. You talk a lot about you youngest 2 but not as much about the other children. Please be sure the older children get enough attention. With a “strong willed child” it’s easy to pay attention to the child with issues and put the others who don’t have as many issues on the back burner. Just something to think about.

    Take care and hang in there. God is with you.


    1. Kelly, thank you so much for your comments. I just wanted to let you know that although I talk a lot about the “chaos” of my life – we really aren’t completely out of control – it just feels that way sometimes! I trust God is in control of my life! Many times what I’m sharing in my post is a snapshot of a day or a situation and not necessarily my life as a whole. I think we all have “those days” 🙂 Maybe I have more than the average single mom!

      My little thing about my ministry to other moms is to make them feel better about themselves is me being a bit cheeky. I know you can’t see my smile when I say that but I am smiling. That actually began when a young mom thanked me for making her feel better about her parenting. It actually was meant as a compliment! I still tease her about that though! I want to give other moms the freedom to be the mom they were called to be without any judgment about how they should be doing it or how their children are dressed or how their houses look or anything else. Grace-based blogging!

      I can certainly do better at getting my children to do more chores around the house – and believe me that is indeed something I am working on! Diligently! I just haven’t done it really well as of yet!

      And absolutely no offense taken about your suggestion about including all my children in my writing – I don’t really plan ahead about my topics, but it is certainly something I’ll try to pay more attention to! Please know that each of my children have my attention and love equally – my littlest one is a bit feisty but I believe that my children all feel loved. I even asked them about it and they all shared honestly that they all feel loved, paid attention to and like we are a big team doing this life together!

      Again, thank you so much! I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. It was a blessing to hear and think through all of what you said.


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