Saturday, August 17, 2013

Choose Your Battles

My mama has always said "choose your battles" when I would vent to her. I've interpreted this advice differently over the years. Mama should have been more specific. 

Choose only the battles that won't turn violent. My (little) sister could, without question, "take me" if we traveled that path. Embarrassing. Not worth explaining to my friends. 

Choose only the battles that don't make you look like the mean girl. Is it really worth losing your friends to tell that one girl in the lunch room that she is a disgusting skank? And that your little sister will "take her" if she looks at you like that again? 

Choose only the battles that make you look cool. Because after a few drinks, that skank needs to be told. And your friends are just drunk enough that it's funny instead of mean. Obviously this is not a battle for the lunch room. Administration frowns upon red solo cups at school...

Choose only battles that won't cause your awesome roommates to move out & quit speaking to you. Actually, this is a hindsight lesson. I totally chose to fight that battle. I speak to all my former roomies now though. 

Choose only battles that won't cause your fiancĂ© to run before the ink is dry.  You can say & do a lot of things. But you may wanna tread carefully when name calling your future in-laws. Sensitive little buggars. 

Choose only battles when you know you're right. For a wife this is exhausting since, ya know, we are ALWAYS right. I had to narrow this one down quickly to choose only battles when you know you're right, you will convince him you're right, AND it will matter to either of you tomorrow. 

Now, though, I'm a mama. And my opponent is SO.DAMN.CUTE! She almost always wins. Or at the very least, gives me a coy look & nose kisses until I forget the battle I chose. Which I guess constitutes a toddler win. 

One battle I always choose (and win) though is her wardrobe. I let her dress however her wild heart desires at home... 

But if we are to be seen in public, mama lays it down. 
Like the time she wanted to wear her Christmas outfit & rain boots for school picture day... in April. No, child, just no. Keep crying. Still no. 

Sometimes though, mamas get tired. Mamas get sick, and our energy depleted. I'm going to let you in on a secret though... Toddlers? They're sneaky, manipulating, intuitive little things. They can smell our weakness. They crouch, waiting for the right moment, then they ATTACK!

And last week, my little toddler predator attacked in the form of public footwear. I laid out her precious little fall transition legging set the night before like I always do. I set her bow & shoes next to it like I always do. I woke up, got her breakfast (served in bed- such a princess) and told her to finish up & get dressed like I always do. She tried to sneak her hat & gloves (like she always does) and without even removing my toothbrush from my mouth I shook my head, like I always do & she didn't argue. She was choosing to save that battle. I was obviously tired because when I saw her march out in these shoes, I shook my head & decided we were already late so I went back to her room & grabbed the shoes I laid out to switch on the way. Well, I'm not sure what I did when I got to the room but when I got 1/2 way to school, I discovered they were NOT in my purse. Well, damn. She's going to actually wear these freaking shoes. 

Her teacher is going to think I'm drinking. Or neglecting her. She will call DCF... Or my husband's attorney. The kids will tease her. The parents will stare at us walking down the hall. She will tell a therapist one day that her absent minded mama ruined her life at the ripe age of 2. 

I clearly have a flair for the dramatics. None of those things happened. I did, however, laugh at a rolling tear as I left her classroom. 

She marched right into that classroom & showed her teacher her shoes Vanna White style. I cringed, expecting the worse, and immediately launched into the explanation. Her teacher just laughed & said "Oh I see your pretty shoes. Can I wear them?" Kid turned to give me an enthusiastic thumbs up. She then walked straight to the rug where her classmates were playing & before she even could show them, 2 little girls jumped up "I love your shoes, Aubrey Jo!!"

Was it really that important that she wear the little Mary Janes I laid out? More important than the confident smile on her face? Nah. 

I'm not ready to hand over the reigns completely yet. But maybe I won't choose the shoe battle every time. Who knows, you may even see me give in & let her wear her favorite red bow even when her outfit isn't red ... Or not. The shoes are far enough. 

What battles are you choosing? What battles could you stand to pass? As a parent, I think I'm learning to choose fewer & fewer battles. It's a constant battle walking that line. Especially as a solo parent, I hate always being the bad guy. But more importantly, I have to remember there are some battles that WILL really matter and I don't want my fussing to start sounding like white noise to her. I want her to understand if I put my foot down, it matters, not just because I want her stupid shoes to match. 

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