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The struggle in doing chores

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I have been a stay-at-home dad since mid-2009, and there is still one thing that I still struggle with. And that is doing chores.

A good example is what happened last night. Because I took the car for maintenance during the day, I didn’t have time to buy groceries. Usually, I shop during the day. So instead of putting the kids to sleep and rest at night, I’ve decided to go for a grocery run.

Since we spend most of our meals at home, our fridge constantly runs out of the home. In other words, I shop for groceries every day. It is not unusual for me to visit two different grocery stores daily to get everything we need. The funny thing is, whenever I come back home from shopping, then that’s when I remember there is something we need to buy. While doing my business in the washroom, my 6-year-old came in and asked me some questions. As a parent, you know your kids will always come in when you are in the toilet. Anyways, I was so tired that I gave a half-ass answer.

My six-year-old being a six-year-old, didn’t realize how grumpy I was and she went back to her room.

As she walked away, I told myself:

Cliff, you could be kinder to your daughter. She wasn’t being malicious.

It is true. My answer could have been kinder or more gentle. I could say a joke to cheer things up.

But I was tired. Dad (dead) tired.

Now I try to tell myself. But Cliff, you got a car in Singapore. That’s a luxury. You are a stay-at-home dad; you ain’t even juggling with work and chores. The voices in my head go on and on.

The truth is, I am tired frequently. The list of chores is endless.

The sad/funny thing is, the more I clean our home, the angrier I get because I discover more things that need cleaning, putting away, or sorting. Of course, with two kids around and constantly asking me to feed or play with them, it doesn’t help.

Of course, the next step is to think through this theologically. WWJD (What would Jesus do?)

I do try and tell myself that I can do this in Christ. Bust out Philippians 4:13 (I can do all things in Him who gives me strength). Or even encourage me with the fact that Jesus washes His disciples’ feet. Or go on to say how Jesus says if we give a cup of water to the thirsty. So even Jesus commends the mundane things, like doing chores. It’s about the heart and the attitude.

And yet, I am still tired.

Maybe I need more me time. Maybe I need to take a break. Maybe I am stretching myself too much by doing other things (building websites, running The Ordinary Dad etc.) Maybe more of this or that will help.

Honestly, I don’t know if any of those things will help. But all I know is that tomorrow there will be more chores. Somewhere in the house is a mess and needs cleaning.

So what’s the point of this post? Is it merely a rant? Haha, maybe. But I want to write this post to say the struggle is real. I am not a perfect dad who loves cleaning and caring for my kids. I often struggle to do day-to-day stuff, like chores.

I was listening to a podcast called Dad Tired the other day. The host is also a stay-at-home dad who shared how he struggled with being a father. It wasn’t about this, but he said it is ok if you are not good at work because our identity is not based on what we do but on who we are in Christ. And this got me thinking, what if I have this idea all wrong?

Do I feel down because I suck at doing chores or suck at being a father? If my identity is in Christ, it is ok if I am not great at doing these things because my identity is not based on my performance. But it is so hard to accept. Because internally, we want to be proud of what we do with our hands. And externally, we want to show others we are capable human beings.

It is funny, on the one hand, we believe that God loves any of us, not because we have any worth. Yet, at the same time, we live with the idea that we are worthless if we don’t bring any worth to society/family/church. It doesn’t even make sense. Either our identity is found in Christ or our identity is found in what we do.

I am still learning what it means to find my identity in Christ and not what I do.

I gotta go. It is my time to take the kids, and we are going to buy lunch and buy more groceries (haha)

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