I just cleaned a pan in the sink a half an hour ago. Went back and now there it was dirty again! It had fried egg-gunk on it this time. So I turned on the spigot and washed it a second time. And as I looked at the sponge in my hand, I thought, “Isn’t this just so typical of parenting? Always cleaning up after someone.”
OK, I have no axe to grind here and I love my kiddos, but here’s the way it is: A child gets to soak up stuff – like that sponge. They are a net taker of energy and effort. The parent is like the spigot – always pouring out, usually drained at the end of the day.
There comes a point in a child’s life where they pass the break-even mark and start giving more than they take. Out on the prairie in the days of settlers, this probably occurred about age seven. These days in suburbia what’s your guess as to when it happens? I’m thinking it probably happens sometime after graduating from college.
My point in bringing this up is to pose the question: If you’re a spigot, are you happy being one? If it’s your assignment in life, you should at least be respected for pouring out as you do. And I suggest you think about how to help make the transition go faster. We’ve only got so much energy in us – some people burn out in the process of pouring out what they don’t have.
And if you’re a sponge, what’s your plan for one day becoming a spigot and pouring out for someone else? Sponges soak up water and then get squeezed so as to become useful again. Have you been squeezed lately? For example, I don’t know why, but getting help mowing the grass was always an ordeal at our house (granted, with four girls, it was not an easy sell). And when it came time to do chores, sometimes everyone was just too busy to help.
Things are better now that everyone has grown up, but we had some tough years along the way.
Sponge or spigot? Taker or giver? God created you to bear fruit – good works that others will bless you for. A good first step is to take stock of who you’ve become and to decide if you like the way things are.