Mommy A to Z

Motherhood, Alphabetized.

B is for . . . Battles (And 6 Signs the Kids Are Winning)


Parenting can be a lot like going to war. First, you do your recon, poring through baby books, observing your kids in their native habitats, swapping tactics with other parents. Having gathered your intel, you devise strategies that should be effective: No TV time until your daughter’s room is clean. No food if your toddler won’t wear his bib. No one even thinks about going outside without a helmet and a full suit of armor “borrowed” from a local Renaissance festival. Thus armed you head into battle . . . only to discover that these three-foot masterminds have already outsmarted, outwitted, and outmaneuvered you. Somehow, despite all your books and planning, the kids always seem to be, well, winning.

In my home, a quick look around points to the real victors in the daily parenting battles. Here are 6 signs that the kids have conquered the battlefield:

1. Mommy wants to leave the house, but no longer has any matching shoes. This is because my toddler has dragged each pair out of the closet and, after taste-testing them, has exiled one shoe from each pair to the mysterious black hole in our apartment. All Mommy is left with is one pair of stiletto heels and some knee-high leather boots from my club-hopping days — perfect for wearing to the grocery store.

2. My toddler has called Mommy’s bluff at the dinner table. Whoever decided bibs should be fastened with Velcro was clearly a sadist. All Mommy’s threats of “No bib, no service” are for naught when Toddler pulls off his bib ten times a meal, leaving me with a conundrum: forsake my perfectly cooked steak to deal with a bibless toddler determined to crawl across the table and grab my food if I won’t feed him — or enjoy my food while my kid covers his formerly clean shirt in mashed potatoes. Hey, Mommy’s hungry too.

3. Our Netflix appears to offer only one show: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Most of the time, I know more about Twilight Sparkle’s day than my husband’s. I’ve given up trying to sneak in the news, or even a quick peek at the weather. Somewhere along the way, my daughter learned how to use the remote, and now she owns that thing. Not even Princess Celestia could wrestle it from her, despite my daughter’s dedicated allegiance to the ruler of Ponyville.

4. The kids have become downright Machiavellian when it comes to bedtime. There’s no manipulation too cunning, no trick too dirty, to get out of going to bed. The moment I settle my toddler into his crib, he points furiously to his diaper — not because he’s wet, but because it gives him five more minutes of wrestling with Mommy, as I attempt my best half-nelson to get a diaper on him. My daughter, who is more experienced in the ways of strategy, has even more effective tactics, ranging from “I need a hug” to “I gotta go potty” to a scary dream about talking pie that requires five more bedtime stories before she can possibly settle down. Try as I might, resistance is futile when a 5-year-old in a Rapunzel nightgown jumps in my lap for another bedtime kiss.

5. Wall-to-wall carpeting has been replaced by wall-to-wall Barbies, crayons, and Play-doh. It’s not that the kids don’t clean up. We are constantly having them straighten up their rooms and put away their things. But, much like Sisyphus pushing that mythological boulder up the hill, cleaning up around here has become an unwinnable uphill battle. The reality is that, no matter how much cleaning we all do, the apartment is a complete mess five minutes later. It’s an astounding phenomenon that drives Mommy crazy — and yet the kids don’t seem to notice (or care) at all.

6. Our home looks like a paid advertisement for Frozen. From the Elsa cutlery on the tables, to the stickers of Olaf and Anna all over the walls, to the Frozen-themed dolls, dresses, and tiaras strewn all over the living-room couch, it’s hard to remember what this place looked like before Disney advised us to “Let It Go.” (Who knew they were talking about floor space?) Apparently, it’s Elsa’s world — or apartment — and we’re all just living in it.

Yes, the kids are indeed winning their share of battles around here. But, ultimately, I like to think Mommy and Daddy are winning the war. Somehow, despite the potatoes and tiaras on the floor, the kids are growing into happy, independent little people ready to confidently and curiously explore their worlds. As parents we can’t expect to win every battle. Let’s face it, a toddler’s loving gaze — letting you know, without a word, that you’re the center of his world — is all the artillery he really needs. But the real victory is seeing them grow into the kind of people we — and they — can be proud of. And on that front, as far as I’m concerned, it’s mission accomplished around here.

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Mom A_Z couch final cover 12 lo res

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  1. This reminds me of my daughter growing up. And she turned out great!

  2. Start gathering intel now for their teenage years.

  3. I think it’s funny how they learn at such a young age to control the parents :)

  4. Parenting is definitely like going to war… sometimes it is one that I can’t win. My self made army is just too good at winning.

  5. This is adorable! Gotta love ’em :)

  6. I completely understand the “My Little Pony” one.

  7. Awesome!

  8. It is definitely a battle! I always heard, “win those battles while they are young”

  9. This post brings back lovely and messy memories of when my daughter took over the house. Remember, they may win the battle but you can still win the war,

  10. I love the way you write. So witty! Little kids certainly do have the upper hand much of the time – that’s for sure! 😉

  11. Great post. As a mom of 2 little ones I can find both humor & truth in all that was written.

  12. Oh all of these sound so familiar… Btw i always tried to buy bibs with snaps, they were harder to find,
    But also much harder to take off. :)

  13. This book sounds so good and funny! I’ll have to pick it up :)

  14. Love it!!!! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Oh, the battles! I remember those. I used to say that it’s not that my son is stubborn enough to shame a brick wall but he’s very perseverant. And it’s a good thing to have in life. Anything that gets you through those days… lol

  16. I can sooo relate to bedtime! This summer has brought about bedtime battles and I only have myself to blame. Why’d I have to have such smart kids and why’d I decide to go easy on the bedtime at the beginning of summer?

  17. Hahahaha. So true! But ultimately, when our child learns and gain knowledge through these “battles”, us parents win too. :)

  18. I giggled a little while reading this, it feels so good to know I am not alone!

  19. LOL…omgoodness…too too funny. My favorite points are about Ponyville, and “Apparently, it’s Elsa’s world — or apartment — and we’re all just living in it.” This post is hilarious – I have all these vivid pictures in my mind on how the kids are winning!

  20. Yes! The end result of happy, healthy, productive little ones is what matters most! Fun post, great descriptions, and well, just rest assured the clutter does go down as they get older. :) XOXO-Kasey

  21. My kids are always winning in my house. and the missing odd shoes is a nightmare!! I have found them all over the house, in the bath, in the toy box, in the drawers hiding under clothes, hiding in her dolls hair, the list is endless!!

  22. All the mess and mayhem will eventually pay off. If you realize or at least think they are winning that means you “have their number” and are working to reel them in (some parents are just clueless). One day they’ll start cooperating and you can breathe a sigh of relief.

  23. I imagine the battle only gets more difficult as they get older, but I suppose that’s the beauty of parenthood.

  24. I can relate to most of those situations. I have two toddler girls who seem to be always making a mess.

  25. Yeah – this sums it up – except for the Netflix thing. What I find funny? My 4 year-old has her own Netflix profile – so its a history of preschool shows? As suggestions? You watched Dora? May we suggest House of Cards? Winks Club? Hey! Season 2 of Orange is the New Black – Only on Netflix! Not sure if we have a bit of profile confusion, but it makes me laugh.

    As for bibs. Yeah. My two-year-old rebelled about 3 months ago. No more.

    Great post.

  26. Haha – I hear you. Those battles sound awfully familiar. I was raging about the velcro bib thing yesterday – clips people clips.

    Loved this post!

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