Strike Back

Have you heard about the mom who went on strike? For six days, Jessica Stilwell, mother of three girls, refused to pick-up, clean up, or otherwise wash anything for her daughters in the hope that they would simply do it themselves. Sure, they eventually broke down and cleaned the mess but only after six days of forcing their family to live in squalor. Who wants to live through that??

I’ve often dreamed of going on strike except in my dream I run away.

I run away to a beautiful tropical island where I don’t have to look at six days worth of dishes in the sink or clothes on the couch. If I’m going to teach my kids a lesson I might as well do it in comfort.

But, alas, fleeing to a tropical locale is not always a realistic option. That’s why I’ve come up with a new solution: throw out your back!


No plane ticket required; just a lack of mobility and a hefty doctor’s bill (unless you’ve met your insurance deductible for the year, then your golden).

Sure it’s painful; but it has an upside: even if you want to clean up, you can’t. Ms. Stilwell had to fight her natural impulses to scrub, organize and scream. I get to escape to my room and lay on the floor, no questions asked.

I really can’t push a vacuum cleaner or empty a dishwasher and, although, I suppose I could assemble a meal (or at least pick up the phone to order one) why would I do that?

I don’t want to give them hope.

Which reminds me; don’t let them see you doing ANY housework. Don’t wipe down the counters, or let the dog out or even fluff a pillow. They are looking for signs that you are improving. If you can put away the cereal box, then obviously, you are well enough to do the laundry. Don’t give them hope (this, by the way, applies to your spouse as well).

If you opt for this plan, however, make sure at least one of your children sees you writhing in pain. There is no substitute for this. If they only see you limping around or moving slowly, they may know you are in pain, but it may not be enough pain to prevent you from making them lunch.

Unfortunately, only my youngest saw me injure myself while taking off my boots. (Yes, taking off my boots did me in, and, no, I’m not 80-years-old). My subsequent screams were enough to reduce my 12-year-old to tears. Now, if he sees me lean forward to get something or I simply ask him to do something he jumps to my aid.

My oldest, on the other hand, missed the show. He came home after I was already tucked in bed at 8:30 at night. Although that did seem disturbing to him, it clearly wasn’t enough for him to really understand the extent of my pain. The following day I actually had to text him from my prone position on the family room floor to get him to let our barking dog in.

He was sitting 15 feet away.

Yelling for him didn’t work because he had his ear buds in and the music was so loud that even I could hear it. Now, normally, if I need him to do something and his ear buds are in I have two options:  walk up to him and yank an ear bud out or—as is more often the case—I simply do whatever it is myself. This time, however, I didn’t have much of a choice. So I sent him a text.

I saw him lean around the corner to see why I was texting him from 15 feet away. I looked him in the eye as I reached for my back and moaned. Unfair, I know, but, come on! I’m on the floor!

He only bitched for a little of the 20 foot walk to the door.

At that moment I actually considered recreating my back spasm so he, too, could witness the extent of my injury. One pull on my cowboy boots or a quick twist to the right and bam! Maybe that would be enough to make him stop complaining. But, no, even I’m not that much of a masochist.

Or aren’t I…

Did I just hear my youngest mutter that he doesn’t have any clean clothes to wear? Where are my boots?

10 responses to this post.

  1. Hope your back feels better! The scenario with your teenager reminds me of a “Zits” cartoon.



  2. LOL! Sorry I am laughing at the way you tell this story, not at your pain. I hope your back feels better soon (although you may want to fake it for a day or two, just to be certain you are up for getting back in the game).

    Maybe you need one of those boot removers for Christmas this year… 🙂



    • Thanks for the well wishes and for the great Christmas gift idea! Who knew taking off boots could be so dangerous although, according to the 20-year-old receptionist at my physical therapist’s office they tell all of their “older patients” to use a boot remover. Forgot the fact that I’m only 46. Does that count as an “older” patient??



      • Well, to that 20 year old receptionist I am sorry to say you might be considered an older patient but to me you are still a young whippersnapper (mostly because I am not all that far behind you). You could always say you are using a boot remover to, umm, keep your hands clean when removing your boots. Yeah, that’s it. 😉


  3. Funny (no, not your back), your take on your kids. I am amazed how our 13 year old leaves socks, lunch bags, back packs, water bottles and just about anything else she touches where ever that particular item’s utility ended…on the couch, on the floor, outside her room (don’t even let me get started about the jungle of dirty clothes inside her room that never make it to the hamper). It is equally amazing how difficult it is to hit the bathroom garbage can with any accuracy. I have yet to resort to the old strained-my-back-taking-off-my- boot ploy, but I have not ruled it out either.



  4. If it makes you feel any better, I have a friend who injured herself pulling up her pants zipper. 🙂



  5. Brilliant. I’d try this myself, but then I remind myself that I fell down the stairs and rolled halfway into the living room screaming, with tears in my eyes, and not one member of the family blinked an eye because they were too engrossed in the movie they were watching. The cat did come check me out, but then he bailed too. Motherhood can really suck sometimes, haha.



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