Losing the War

Posted on | August 20, 2013 | 23 Comments

Everything is a battle lately and I’d be lying if I said I thought, even for a moment, that I was winning.

I am not winning.

Parenting through this stage is like a war of words and tiny fists and feet and so. much. whining. And I am losing every day, little by little, inch by inch.

I do not know how to win this war, you guys.  EVERYTHING is a battle. This morning I sent my kid to school with a belly full of a “healthy” breakfast of cheese and veggie straws because nothing else would work. I chased him around the house, finally grabbing him by his ankles and tossing him on the sofa to put his shoes on.  Raspberries were blown in my general direction.  Words were hurled with precision, meant to wound me with their pointed edges. Words like “I wish you weren’t my mom” and “I don’t want to live with you any more.” Words I thought I could postpone hearing until at least ages 13 or 14.

This feels so much like failure, like I’m doing everything wrong… like somehow I’ve managed to create this little tyrant by my inability to do something right in parenting. I wonder if I’ve hugged too much and punished too little, if I’ve not enforced enough rules or consequences… if I’ve been the push over one too many times for his curls and cuteness.

There are times when it’s fine, when there is a lull in the whining or worrying or needing something or everything but they are few and far between. He needs a snack, he needs my attention, he waaaaaants something different to eat for dinner because this is awful terrible stuff and no one should be forced to eat it.  He doesn’t want his shoes on, he wants different shoes, his socks are burning his feet, his pants are too tight or too loose or his shirt is scratchy. I’m mean because I won’t let him have ice cream, or another container of yogurt, or a pet elephant to keep in his room. I’m not fair when I make him brush his teeth or wash his face and don’t even get me started about washing his hair.

I’m glad to have an opinionated child.

I love him dearly and I wouldn’t trade him for the world.

But oh. my. God. this feels so much like failure these days. Where is the sweetness and cuddly goodness of baby? Where are the silent moments and loving hugs?  WHERE ARE THOSE MOMENTS THAT NORMAN ROCKWELL PAINTED, DAMMIT? I want Coca Cola at a counter with big smiles and straws in the bottle, not a red faced screaming banshee who ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT HAVE APPLE JUICE BECAUSE IT’S YELLOW AND HE HATES YELLOW TODAY. Now it is all rough and tumble, tears and yells, “no’s” and “You can’t make me’s”.

But every so often… just for a brief moment… he is still. His face calm, his smile sweet, his hand reaching out for mine. Every so often, he leans his head in and rests it on my shoulder and sighs out a soft “I love you.”

And in those few and far between moments, I figure that if this is losing, then at least, at most… I am losing to him.  And, let’s face it, I’ve been lost to him since the day he was born.


23 Responses to “Losing the War”

  1. Melanie Burton
    August 20th, 2013 @ 9:58 am

    My mother always says, “pick your battles.” I’ve found that to be some of the best advise she’s ever given me. Giving my children the power of choice over things like their clothing, their shoes, their hair, etc. gave them a sense of independence and power in a world where they felt they had very little control. It’s okay to take him to school with no shoes on. It’s okay if he wears shorts in 30 degree weather to school. He won’t be the first or the last child to show up wearing orange plaid pants and a lime green shirt with blue stripes. If all he will eat is cheese and veggie straws, go with it. He’s eating.

    Do what works best for you and your son. When it gets really bad…the yelling and spiteful words, take a Mommy time out. Go to your room and shut the door. Tell him you need a time out even. I loved the look on my kids faces when I did that the first few times. “Mommy needs a time out. I’m going to my room for 15 minutes.”

    Parenting advice is easy to give to other people. People LOVE to tell other people what to do. However, I have found there are three things that you cannot force other people to agree with you on…religion, politics and parenting. The important thing to remember is do what works for you. Even if that means he has chocolate cake for breakfast…it’s filled with wheat, dairy and eggs. That’s what Bill Cosby told me!

  2. Law Momma
    August 20th, 2013 @ 10:00 am

    Love it! Yeah… I’ve been trying to give him more choices but sometimes it’s just so trying!

  3. Heather Griffitts Clark
    August 20th, 2013 @ 11:03 am

    Amen it is…. Drives me nuts to give them choices when I Just.want.them.to.do.what.I.told.them!!!!!!!!

    But here’s the thing – my sanity is way more important than control. And if I remember right, J is just a few months younger than my M. And it’s all about choices. And I’ve taken her to school with no shoes…. And without brushed teeth…and all those other things.

    I figure if I’m getting the most important things in there 80% of the time, I’m doing okay.

    And…fwiw…my pediatrician says parents today bath their kids waaaaaaaay too much. Not so great for their skin. I know that sounds insane…. So, we do baths every day, but water only. If I can rinse her hair, fantastic. If not, life goes on. It gets washed once a week. And no one thinks I have a stinky kid 😉

    Hang in there…you’re doing an amazing job. This is all completely normal, it’s just tough when you’re the only one doing it.

  4. Law Momma
    August 20th, 2013 @ 11:39 am

    Thanks, friend! xoxo

  5. Melanie Burton
    August 20th, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

    Just remember..some animals eat their young for a reason. I’m kidding! You are a wonder mother. Keep up the great work!

  6. Law Momma
    August 20th, 2013 @ 3:21 pm


  7. Joanna
    August 22nd, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

    Yup, so much of this. I hesitate to give “advice” because it’s not what you are looking for and I screw up ON THE DAILY.

    But some of our biggest battles were food. Like for instance, I was hell bent on nutritious snacks before they leave for daycare because while they eat breakfast there, it isn’t until 8 am and we get them up at 6. It was lots of tears. I felt like they needed more variety, more of this, more of that. And then when I finally realized that 6 a.m. was not when I wanted to be going toe to toe about food and just let them eat those little mini muffins and a gogurt, that part of life got a little better.

    In fact, we have stopped fighting meals altogether. I give them what they want for breakfast (muffins/yogurt) and they eat lunch at school, then for dinner…. it’s what I serve, period. They are not required to eat any of it. (there were so many tears and yelling at dinner time). However, that’s all they get. If they choose not to eat they will not get anything else until the next morning. The only exception is special occasions or new foods which they must try one bit of and if they really hate it there is an alternative. I think I had to remind myself that I don’t like certain foods so why shouldn’t I expect them to be the same way.

    Again, not sure why I’m telling you any of this. You know it all. Just saying, once I started giving the girls, particularly Madison more control of her world and even turned her disagreeing with me or not doing something into “her choice” she started choosing a lot more the way I wanted her to because that always came with the most reward 🙂

  8. Law Momma
    August 23rd, 2013 @ 9:43 am

    I’m learning to pick my battles, for sure. It’s definitely DEFINITELY a learning curve.

  9. Jenny
    August 20th, 2013 @ 10:58 am

    In his defence….I kinda hate apple juice too.
    Kids really are a test of patience but it sounds like you’re doing an amazing job (even though it may not feel like it)!

    Hang in there!

  10. Law Momma
    August 20th, 2013 @ 11:39 am

    LOL! Yeah… I have phases with apple juice.

  11. Carrie
    August 20th, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

    That sounds about right. My daughter is the same way lately and I’m constantly questioning the way I handle things. Then they tell me at school how good she is and I’m all like, “Are we talking about the same child?!” Maybe she just reserves it for dear old Mom? I feel like I’m holding my breath, just waiting for the day she grows out of this stage and hoping I can make it until then!

  12. Law Momma
    August 20th, 2013 @ 3:20 pm

    YES! His teachers are all “He’s so sweet! A joy to teach and be around” and I’m all “You mean MY kid?”

  13. ryenerman
    August 20th, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

    Oh there was a LONG period of time during which Oldest got bathed and hair washed only once a week. I could not handle the physical and mental battle that accompanied any efforts at bathing more than once a week for a couple of years starting right around the time he was 3.5. There were other battles I deemed more important to me (only) so I couldn’t die on the hill of the daily bath. Now he is 10 and showers (!) almost every night without complaint (!) because he plays soccer 5x a week. There are times when the parenting road is SO LONG and I thought I wasn’t going to make it even one more day, but things get physically easier (the emotional stuff is a hill I’m just starting up). I don’t really have any advice here I guess, I just wanted to share that I’ve been there. Hang in.

  14. Law Momma
    August 20th, 2013 @ 3:20 pm

    Hey… the “I’ve been there and survived” are the most helpful of all the advice! 🙂

  15. Lola M.
    August 20th, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

    As long as he knows that you love him no matter what you are all good.
    This helped me a lot: I made up a verse that I would say every night just before my son went to sleep – especially when he had been a kid I’d gladly have duct taped to the wall:
    No matter what you say
    No matter what you do,
    Michael Cochran, I love you!
    It’s kind of bouncy. I added verses as I went along …. something like, “When we’re here at home, when we’re at the zoo, …”
    it could go on forever.
    It’s amazing, even at 12 now, it will stop him in his tracks. There’s no way he’d admit it though. 🙂

  16. Law Momma
    August 20th, 2013 @ 3:20 pm

    Oh I love that. So sweet and also… reminding. 🙂

  17. Stacey
    August 20th, 2013 @ 3:53 pm

    Thank you thank you thank you for writing about this – and so well, I might add!

    I have been going through the same issues with my daughter and having the same thoughts that you are revealing here. It somehow feels less scary to know that it happens to others.

    Reading about your thoughts allows me to reject the misguided thought that I have somehow managed to create a monster and am therefore a monster myself.

    I love the coping strategies and advice given by your readers too.

    Again, Thank You.
    For being here.


  18. Law Momma
    August 21st, 2013 @ 9:45 am

    I’m so glad not to be alone. This parenting gig is hard work, right!?

  19. Roxanne Piskel
    August 21st, 2013 @ 3:01 am

    It won’t always be like this.

    And it won’t always be easy either.

    Parenting is a struggle, a battle. But you will win the war. Because your son is loved, healthy, and perfect just the way he is.

    That was supposed to be encouraging. It’s late, so perhaps I didn’t come off that way? Anyway. You aren’t alone in this. XO

  20. Law Momma
    August 21st, 2013 @ 9:45 am

    It was encouraging. And scary. 😉

  21. Betsy
    August 21st, 2013 @ 3:39 am

    I feel your pain. I’m told on a daily basis, “Don’t tell meeeeee…”, “you are NOT coming to my birthday”, “you are not my friend!!”. And she’s in a phase where she will only wear 1 shirt and no shoes or a jacket and we are in the middle of winter. My mom told me sometimes you just have to “float through it”. Bite my tongue not to yell back!!

  22. Law Momma
    August 21st, 2013 @ 9:46 am

    Oh I get SO many “You are not my friend” and “you can’t play with me anymore!”

    Kids are mean. Good thing they’re cute. 🙂

  23. NinjaPanza
    August 26th, 2013 @ 11:25 am

    I get mostly grunts and “You’re not my best friend anymore.” But luckily lately (the past week or so?) we’ve hit a weird phase where he’s sickly sweet like all the time. I’m pretty much just considering this the eye of a massive hurricane.

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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