It’s Not Worth the Fight
WARNING: If you’re a neat freak, this photo may be harmful to your mental health. (Sometimes I worry the actual content itself is a health hazard.)
This is Randi’s room. If you don’t have a room like this in your house, you probably don’t have a teenager. This picture might elevate your blood pressure; anxiety might be gathering in your chest.
Or maybe you’re justifying this mess, thinking perhaps I staged the picture to fit the topic of our conversation today. Or you’re at least hoping I snapped the pic on a “bad” day, that I don’t let Randi’s room look like this all the time. (Sorry to disappoint you. This is how the room looks 362 days of the year.)
Or you may be judging me, wondering what kind of a mother I am to allow such a disaster to exist in my home, or how you’re not going to feel sorry for me when my daughter’s mug shot is on the evening news because I failed to discipline her.
That’s okay. I wonder some of the same things myself from time to time. But mostly…I just close the door.
And for you moms who saw this photo and wondered when I snuck into your home and snapped a pic of your kid’s room, you’re welcome. I’m happy to put my disaster on the internet for the whole world to see–if it makes you feel better to know you’re not the only mom in the universe with a potentially toxic room in her house.
I don’t completely ignore the mess, however. I do impose a few rules to prevent the health department from condemning our home.
RULE #1 Nothing green and fuzzy is allowed to grow in the room.
RULE #2 The source of any smells that waft into the hallway must be found and eliminated immediately.
RULE #3 The room must endure an annual purge (which is currently scheduled for SOON).
But why would I allow such a mess to exist under my roof?
Because I know—and some of you know—how important it is to just close the door.
Because this may be my home…but that is not my space.
That space temporarily belongs to a human girl who needs to control her own environment, who needs a habitat that is uniquely hers, a domain where she reigns…even if it drives me crazy.
On occasion, Randi gets a whim and tidies up without being asked. On those rare days, we sit on her bed and admire the carpet which we haven’t seen in so long and I, nonchalantly, not at all obviously, mention how nice it feels to be uncluttered…hoping something will click and Randi will miraculously remember the mantra I gave up on long ago: a place for everything, and everything in its place.
But she and I both know she prefers her clothes to be scattered on her floor rather than folded neatly in her dresser because things are easier to find that way. And it’s convenient when you need a bobby pin because chances are, if you simply bend down in any spot in the room, you’ll find one. And why make the bed when you’re just going to get right back in it at night?
So…I don’t expect one of Randi’s rare tidy occasions to last more than 24 hours, and about Hour 36, I close the door again.
This is a battle I choose not to fight.
I prefer a clean room. Randi prefers a disaster area (and Hubby is secretly plotting revenge when Randi has her own house someday). We have different opinions, and fighting over differing opinions is not worth upsetting the family peace. That fight, if it happens, becomes a battle of wills. But for what?
As parents, we have many battles to fight, and we can’t fight them all, so we must make choices.
What’s worth fighting for?
I had a friend whose son let his once clean-cut hair grow past his eyes. It was a few years back when that sheepdog look was so popular with the boys. His hair drove her crazy. And her nagging to get it cut drove him crazy. The tension over their differing opinions was thicker than his hair. Finally I asked a question.
What core family values does this go against?
We decided the hair cut wouldn’t affect his eternal salvation, and it wasn’t a health or safety issue. We were pretty certain it wouldn’t harm his chances of graduating high school or getting accepted to college. And, regardless of her opinion, the haircut was not a criminal offense.
“He’ll cut it,” I told her, “when he gets sick of it hanging in his eyes…or when the style changes.”
And a few months later, he did. And now this young man is a college graduate launching a successful career. And I’m sure his momma is very proud.
We have choices to make because not every battle is important…or worth winning.
And we must consider the collateral damage:
- our toddler’s independence when we change the hairstyle she did all by herself before we leave the house
- our tween’s self-esteem when expressing her identity seems like a daily wardrobe experiment
- our teen’s development into young adulthood as he chooses to quit a sport we love or a college major not on our list.
These battles might seem worth it at first. But they’re not.
We have bigger battles to win…and we must fight them daily.
We battle against a deceitful foe in order to protect our children’s spiritual well-being.
We battle against the influence of society as it bombards our family with harmful messages that contradict our core values.
We battle for the integrity and future of our children, even when that means fighting against them sometimes.
These battles we fight with every ounce of love and energy we have to pour into them…because losing is not an option.
So how important is a clean bedroom? To me, not very.
I wonder what other battles we fight that probably shouldn’t be battles at all.
Maybe instead we just need to close the door.
COMMENTS: What battles are fought in your home that may not be worth the fight? What battles are worth every ounce of love and energy you can pour into them?
(I can ignore Randi’s messy bedroom. Putting her feet on my table? Not! But it did make a funny pic!)
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