MOMI LEARNS| Son teaches mom to sharpen the axe

Feb 3, 2017 | Life, Only Berlin

Living in the small house with four children can sometimes be crazy. Being the only woman in the house, I sometimes find myself all alone cleaning the mess my boys left. Do not get me wrong. My kids are real helpful and thoughtful. And these are the same reasons which sometimes pushes me not to bother them and give them the break they deserve.

But if there is one thing I truly enjoy being the mother of my kids, it is the valuable lessons they often teach their parents. Just like what I learned this week from my second son.

Son standing and walking around three times

I was reviewing my 11-year-old boy for his Mastery Exam in English. The two other school kids were busy doing their homework. Then from time to time, my second son would stand up and go outside. He did that for about three times until I snapped.

“Why can’t you stay in one place? How can you finish your assignment when you keep on standing and walking around? You make me dizzy!” was my remark.

Second son kept mum and stayed in one place until he was able to finish his work. He did not stand up anymore and went outside.

The boys were able to finish their homework just before bed time. My Big Bunso and I were also done with our review. After supper and my usual “wash your face and brush your teeth” reminder, my three boys all went upstairs to sleep. I was left to tidy the living room. As I was about to throw our garbage, I then understood why my son kept on going outside. He made a drawing on an illustration board. And that required him to sharpen the worn surface of his pencil from time to time. He was not merely “leisurely walking.”

Son teaches mom to sharpen the axe

This made me remember the story I read to my 17-month old son about a week ago. It was the Parable of the Two Woodcutters.

Parable of the Two Woodcutters

Two woodcutters were competing against each other as to who could chop down the most trees in a day. Both started hacking away within earshot of each other. After an hour, Sam stopped. Fred was puzzled but carried on chopping.

Five minutes later, he could again hear the swing of Sam’s axe. Another hour went by, and Sam again seemed to stop chopping for a few minutes. Fred was thrilled. He became more confident that he would win.

So he kept chopping away, pausing now and again to wipe away the perspiration from his forehead. Sam’s “start and stop” continued for the rest of the day, and Fred’s delight grew.

At the end of the day, however, Fred was surprised to discover that Sam had felled more trees.

“How can this be? I never stopped chopping once but you kept taking a break!”

“Yes, but I stopped to sharpen my axe,” Sam replied.


Lesson from the son and the woodcutter

Son teaches mom to sharpen the axe

A small investment of time can give significant rewards. Time spent to equip oneself can make a difference as well. Often, we work so hard that we ignore to find time for the more important things. Things which will make us more functional. Sharpening our axe may include taking the needed sleep or rest instead of continuing to work all night. Or relaxing once in a while from work. And enriching ourselves with learning and not sticking to what we are used to knowing and doing.

I, too, often forget to sharpen my axe. Just last night, I slept at around 12 midnight because I was finishing an article due for two days more. I hope we always find time to sharpen our axe and learn from the woodcutter and my 13-year-old son.


  1. Gryselle Mae

    I, myself, haven’t been sharpening my ax lately too. I’ve been too focused on my work that I would even forget to take a rest. Being awake the whole night makes us unproductive and irritable the next day. In the end, I would just be wasting my time and still be leaving my work undone despite the time I have consumed to finish my task. I’m glad your son was able to know that he needs to sharpen his pencil. It means he is truly working on it seriously. Most kids would just want to get it over with. You’ve taught your son well. 🙂

  2. Cykaniki

    This strikes me a lot, indeed we need to slow a bit and sharpen our axe, sometimes we’re pre occupied with things and sometimes neglecting the true essence of life. I remember earlier my 2 year old kid was disturbing me, while I’m busy editing a video. He wanted my attention and he don’t want me to look at the monitor instead, he wanted me to face him, he just wanted to stare at my face. He keeps on kissing me and later on he went to sleep. I concluded he wanted me to sleep with him as well, silly mom

  3. Swayam Tiwari

    Indeed, we do not pay attention to our tools. We just concentrate on the effort. If we paid equal attention to our tools then we would be more effective as well as efficient. Your posts are a delight to read. They are incisive, fun and to the point without being preachy. I am sure your sons will grow up into healthy and mature individuals.

    • momiberlin

      Thankful for the kind words. I agree with you. Most of us do not out much attention to honing our skills or even giving ourselves the needed break. We need those to be more effective and productive.

  4. Michi

    This reminds me the difference between working hard and working smart. Working smart is much better because you find ways to work efficiently and finish the work as soon as possible. You enhance your knowledge and experience that you need for your job.

  5. joema

    I will remember this every time especially when things go wrong from bad to worst. Keep posting these thoughts. It touches many.

  6. Marge

    I just have to ask because there’s a gap in the story, where did your son sharpen the pencil? Why did he have to go outside? Don’t you have a sharpener inside the house? I’m sorry, I’m just curious lol.

    Anyway, I loved the parable. I was also curious why the other man stopped in the middle of cutting so when I read about why he had to do it, I had to smile. Indeed, you have to put some time or invest on things to make life better. I love the lesson here I must say!

  7. Orana Velarde

    What a great life lesson! I agree that we just keep going and going and going and going without stopping and it just takes us to mega tiredness and less productivity. Your son is quite clever!

  8. Gemma

    I hope you also acknowledged the learning your son just reminded you about. I like your story! I have been taking a lot of sharpening of my ax these days – mmm.. a lot sleeping! Lol, there are just a lot of things to do!


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Motherhood, as I live it, is a gift not everyone can appreciate until she learns to truly live it. More musings and realizations, fun discoveries, and mommy tips at Momi Berlin's blog.

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