“Pick your battles.”
Every mom has heard that piece of advice, starting from the very first time her precious snowflake uttered the word “NO!” with a vehemence not to be believed, in a volume rivaling that of an F-16, with a stomp of a foot and crossing of arms foreshadowing the teen years.
I’ve been picking my battles for almost 13 years now. A let his “NO!” be known much earlier than his first utterance.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or blissfully warm in a tropical paradise (and then I hate you), you know Chicago has been having one miserable hell of a winter. It’s been one snowstorm and Polar Vortex visit after another; the next round of “negative numbers really go that low in real life???” begins tonight and is predicted to last some 50+ hours. J’s school has already canceled for tomorrow, and I’d lay money on Tuesday being a day off as well. We have shoveled more snow than we have room to put it. Yes, shoveled. We do not have a snowblower. See that picture up there? It only shows part of the driveway we have to clear. By hand. It’s a double wide driveway in front, narrows to a single lane down the side of the house, widening to a double width again in the back. It easily takes me two hours shoveling it alone, and I’ve clocked over three hours if the snow is particularly wet, heavy, or deep. Today’s snow is easily three times the amount in that two-year-old picture.
Ah. Shoveling. Unless I suddenly pass a solid gold kidney stone, a snowblower isn’t in the near future. So it’s by hand. And the boys rarely help.
I heard that collective gasp.
“What? You have two young men living under your roof! Surely they can put on their boots and gloves and shovel for and/or with you!”
You’d think. But I have to pick my battles. Shoveling is not usually a
snow pile hill I’m willing to die on. But the looks and comments I’ve gotten from those who don’t know that get under my skin and hurt worse than the metric ton of snow I flung all over my fucking yard for two hours this morning.
So let’s crowdsource this, shall we? Help me prioritize my parenting battles. Maybe fresh sets of eyes will help me see the parenting light.
Should I give up the battle of getting my sons up in the morning, especially the homeschooling one? It’s ok if he sleeps till noon (which I’m pretty sure he did this morning, because I was out shoveling), right? Or maybe give up ensuring he takes his meds in a timely manner. You know, the ones that help him focus and concentrate and not bounce off the goddamned walls, or maybe the other ones that help whatever the hell is wrong with his stomach. Perhaps I should just quit trying to make my dangerously underweight child eat. It’s ok that he fell off the growth chart for weight, and that if left to his own devices would eat maybe 800 calories a day. I’m sure you’d agree, yes? How about I just quit redirecting my homeschooled kid all day long, to make sure he’s getting something resembling an education that might prepare him for a world that has NO clue what to do with a thinker like him. I guess I could stop keeping track of whether or not he’s showered or changed his underwear/socks, or brushed his teeth; no one will mind if he reeks or has breath that could kill an ox at fifty paces. Chores? Pfft…don’t need to follow up to make sure any of those are done or done well. Sibling issues? Eh, they’ll be just fine if I let them Lord of the Flies it out. I suppose guiding him through the minefield that is the teen years could just be put on the back burner; a kid with little to no concept of social conventions will probably be just fine in the long run. His room could be totally left alone I reckon; it’s ok because we have an exterminator come out a couple times a year already. Hey, transitions from one thing to the next or getting ready to leave the house to be somewhere remotely on time are just a-ok, not a single issue there to raise my blood pressure and encourage premature greying. Don’t need to monitor his tech use, right? I’m sure we’re all fine with him squirreled away alone in a room, programming and tinkering and hacking, rarely leaving to eat or sleep or shit. I’m sure that is just fine with everyone. The overly emotional scrambled-brains behavior of “too much time on screen” isn’t too much of a problem for anyone in this house. Don’t need to push bedtimes, because he’s now nocturnal, and hey, my husband and I didn’t want any child-free alone time in the evening, or enjoy a little boot-knockin’ without a kid walking into the bathroom and then knocking on our door to make a random comment about some-odd piece of shit trivia we don’t care about because it is eleven-fucking-thirty and you need to be in your room and not in ours dear god we are not your sex education video!
Where exactly does snow shoveling fall into that list again?
I know a lot of that list is just pure parenting, but also not. When everything is a battle, even the simplest (or so you’d think) bit of parenting becomes a potential battlefield. There are too many hills for me to die on before my first cup of coffee.
We all have battles that others don’t see, and some have battles others can’t imagine. In this house, there are even more that I’m not mentioning out of respect of what is left of my sons’ privacy. Something like shoveling, or the like, is not even on my battle radar most days.
So you know, unless you are intimately aware of what is going on behind closed doors, even if someone is grumbling and snarking from behind those doors, watch the comments and sidelong glances.
I have enough battles to fight.