My children are 16 and 18 years old. I should never feel the need to go on strike, but here we are. Sigh.

Life is busy for everyone. Absolutely. But I feel single parents really understand the need to have balance in their lives. Between working full-time hours, volunteer meetings, spending time with friends, and . . . sleeping, you want to be able to provide your children with everything that will help them be successful in life.

Over the years, I had thought I’d done a good job in teaching my boys what’s important in life and how contributing to the family needs was always appreciated. They learned how to take care of their own rooms and belongings, took pride in doing their own laundry, learned how to cook simple dishes if I was working overtime. But I must have failed in the ‘washing dishes’ department.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m positive they know how dirty dishes get cleaned. They both have experience being kitchen staff at their uncle’s restaurant. It just seems the minute they leave the restaurant, washing dishes is not a priority at home . . . until someone starts using pots for cereal and lids as plates.

I stopped doing dishes a week ago. I asked my 18-year-old son to please clean them while I’m at work, as he no longer attends school (high school graduate) and only works weekend shifts. Every day I have come home to a few dishes cleaned, the piles on the kitchen counters getting smaller. But I feel this is unacceptable.

Maybe I’m the professional dishwasher in our home — who can make the kitchen sparkle in just a couple hours — but after a week of hoping my son will step up for once, I have come to the conclusion that he may never make it on his own, and I have only myself to blame.

Which brings us to today. I have refused to wash any dishes for a week. Before heading to work my night shifts, I only prepare meals if there are clean pots and pans needed to achieve this, otherwise they are on their own for dinner. I have refused to do grocery shopping until said dishes are cleaned. (Note: I have been keeping an eye on what food is in the house so I know there is always something available — fruit and veggies in the fridge, pasta and sauce in the cupboards, eggs, bagels, yogurt, even Mr. Noodles, so I don’t feel like I’m “starving” them, even though my youngest son just told me that this morning!)

Am I a bad parent? Frustrated may be more like it.

This may be a difficult lesson for them to learn, maybe one I should have dealt with years ago. I am still hopeful they will soon understand what it’s like for a single parent juggling all the balls to make things work. But this mom will continue being on strike until her boys step up to the plate. And hopefully, it will be a clean plate.