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When everything is a battle, which ones do you choose?
When everything is a battle, which ones do you choose?

When everything is a battle, which ones do you choose?

when everything is a battle...

“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.


  1. Celeste Hill

    This is a long email, but you need a break from snow shovelling right?
    You’re stuck inside with a – yet another – vortex type arrangement & we are stuck inside with another heatwave. Weird. Well, no just weather (with a dash of climate change). I’ve yet to get to the position you’re at – of just not ‘hiding’ everything we are & what we struggle with. What fascinates me about your latest post is that there are aspects of your life you reveal knowing full well that people who don’t have similar kids will have all kinds of hostile judgements about you. I expect you don’t care because they are not the ones you’re trying to connect with anyway. Which is logical. But for me, in a relatively small city, in a country of about 22 million (you’d have cities that big!) – I just don’t find enough ‘others’ to connect with. I wonder if you have any advice about being – well, less covert about giftedness.

    Culturally, “gifted” is still a dirty word in Australia. It’s the quickest way to lose friendships as a parent. In fact, it’s worse than that, if you skirt around by saying you’re catering for “very accelerated” learning or ANY reference to high intelligence – you may as well be insulting their mother. “Twice exceptional” must be used with the caution of a firearm, because it is assumed to mean your kid is doubly more special than any other kid. The ignorance is suffocating.

    I have found about 3 mums who I can openly talk to about it. They have kids the same. And we belong to the local GT association – (which is always struggling to stay operating due to low numbers). But all these people are busy & overwhelmed – most have more than one child, and work. I was on a web forum, but it’s gone. Besides, while Internet is better than nothing, it seems inadequate given this – giftedness- is our daily lives, and impacts on us in every conceivable way. I’ve thought of organising get togethers. But in addition to organising a lot of homeschooling activities, I’ve returned to College to make something more of my own life – [now that I’ve learned that being overly sensitive doesn’t mean I’m a nutcase & being a visual, special learner is not stupidity]. With any spare time I do have I need to be active in environmental / sustainability activities – because what is happening to the planet is really affecting me (& keeps my daughter awake). It’s all fun, I love my life now. Except its lonely & I’m really annoyed that so much of my life has to be ‘secret’!

    I guess I shouldn’t whine, I’ve got it pretty good. Well, until ecological collapse hits home. Actually, I can understand how intensity can scare people. Oh I don’t know, do you have any thoughts?

    Kind Regards,

    1. Hi Celeste! I know that you were asking Laughing At Chaos, but your comment resonated with me. It is not just in a small town in Australia where gifted is a bad word. It is true in a bigger city in the US too. I also struggle with wanting to share my parenting frustrations and joys with those around me, but feel like I am either bragging about my kids’ IQs or insulting my children by downplaying their talents. *sigh* Momma can’t win. I have often thought, If MY kids are like this then there must be a bunch of other kids like this.” Wrong. There are just not that many gifted children compared to all of the other “normal” kids who I think are wonderful and beautiful little people, but feel like I am being condescending if I say something like that to another parent. Did I mention that I feel I can’t win?

      I don’t really have any suggestions for you–it seems like you have done everything you can to find a support system! This stuff is just hard. I can just offer you the knowledge that you are not alone. Big fat lot o’ help that is, but there you go. 🙂 Good luck!

      1. Celeste Hill

        Actually it does help to be told we are not ‘in this’ alone. Being such a social species – it’s fairly essential for well being to know that you’re not ‘out there’ somewhere. Now that I think of it, a key tactic of anyone trying to undermine you (perhaps in response to feeling threatened) is to dismiss someone – or their view point, as “way out” or weird. So thanks 🙂

        1. Jen

          “a key tactic of anyone trying to undermine you (perhaps in response to feeling threatened) is to dismiss someone – or their view point, as “way out” or weird.”

          This is a very good point, Celeste. I’d never thought of it this way, but you’re right. If someone is dismissive of your viewpoint (and I mean dismissive, not disagreeing) that person is essentially shutting you down. Hm. Something to think about.

  2. kim

    There is a certain parent n this house who cannot grasp this concept and then there is me. 🙂 I empathize. That said, since you asked for opinions- I’d let go of the showering within reason, like 2/week minimum. At some point he might realize that hygiene matters, though I can’t say my boys hit that point at the same age.
    {pause to shout across the house that my younger boys needs to put down his book and go shower}
    Only 1/2 the children in my house have bought into the concept, but we’ve often talked about the concept of emotional bank accounts (credit to Stephen Covey). The more you put in, the more you get out. You want a favor from mom, then DO a favor for mom. One kid totally gets it in practice, the other one appreciates it in theory, but cannot seem to apply it. But at least when that boy complains that his brother is our “favorite” we can break it down and say, “Well he gets 30 minutes of computer because he did X. What have you done to help our family?” I suspect this would only work with 1/2 of your brood, too. *sigh*
    At the end of the day, you’re right. As the mom, you have to pick your battles for sanity’s sake. Hopefully, you and T agree where to draw the lines. That’s a whole other kind of blog post though (at least for me).

    1. Julie

      Kim – I love this idea of “emotional bank accounts”. I will try it out with my 8-year old son! It’s all about money these days, but this emotional thing really struck me.

      Jen – I am brand new to this world of twice-exceptional, so I came across this blog in my quest for knowledge about it. Good stuff! I’m now a follower of your blog and a FB fan. 🙂

  3. I soooooo hear you – even way over here in Australia – We have stopped trying to explain now and just have to trust our own ‘place’ . It is what it is – our little treasures are what they are – and people can think what they think.

    Love my little one to bits – but ’tis soooo exhausting .

    Yep, I hear ya loud and clear – those parenting manuals do not cover this !

    I find the tricky thing is talking through it with others as it is just so difficult to explain – you can only live it everyday to truly grasp the frustration.

    My motto is – hopefully our love will see him through – because sometimes that’s all we can give him !!!! (just) 🙂

    Oh yes I’m hearing you.

    1. Celeste Hill

      Thanks Donna! I agree with you about love. Although even that can at times be mind-boggling. I mean – what form the love should take – at a given time. But that’s kinda what Jen’s post covers – because the battles are really just efforts to care for your kids. Pity they don’t see it that way.
      I’m getting the hang of absorbing what wisdom I can from others, and keeping my focus on those who inspire & do not judge. And also looking after myself more seriously – because if I don’t have it, I can’t give it. 😉

  4. Angie Surrett

    Thank you for sharing this!!! I feel like you are telling my personal struggles. There is so much that goes into dealing with these issues. I can’t tell you how many times someone has made a snide remark about my child’s behavior or the manner in which I choose to deal with them. Reading this brought tears to my eyes and in the words of my teen daughter ” the struggle is real”. You are not alone.

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