Every year I look forward to late fall when those temperatures start to drop. The days get shorter and the wind whips faster. My Crockpot emerges from the back of the pantry ready for new batches of pinned recipes. I go through the rubber bins of gender-neutral clothing. Then search for last year’s coats I can squeeze the baby into before she gets annoyed with my persistence. I drive all over town in a quest to find the trendiest baby gear in hopes that those down feathers will defend my children from the arctic Oklahoma air.
When the weather changes, I feel anew. Winter is my jam. I love bundling up in scarves and puffy coats. It’s so easy to hide my greasy hair and hairy legs under a beanie hat and fleece-lined leggings. I adore tiny tots in snow gear solely meant for ski school as they wander around the backyard. There is nothing cuter than children all clad in boots, beanies, and puffers.
Surely they’ll love this brand new winter coat too, right?
So so wrong.
Why do I block this out every year? It’s as if that first sip of a Pumpkin Spice Latte in the fall sends me into some blackout that erases every winter coat fight from the previous year. Why do I think this year is going to be any different? Why do I think they WANT to wear a jacket?
Why do I think they want to do whatever it is I want them to do? The more I push-the harder they fight. They arch, pull, and wrestle. Followed by my huffing, puffing, and growling. Why do I enter into this daily battle?
This year, I decided to ease up on the reigns.
The first truly cold morning that actually required a coat started off as I anticipated. I asked my three-year-old if he wanted to wear a jacket.
“No, Mommy. I’m not cold.”
Instead of deliberating, negotiating, compromising, and fighting-I dropped the subject. We loaded up in the car and that was that.
The coat stayed at home. No backup. He was so sure he was going to be warm, no matter what, and I was ready to let this kid have a freeze-out if needed. Am I cold-hearted? Maybe.
We got out of the car and I held my head high as I mentally defended myself from the judging eyes. As we walked from the car into his school, hand in hand, I heard him chatting away per usual.
Ever so softly I heard him speak, “Mommy, it is cold outside. I am so chilly.”
I told him to look around at the other kids and moms in the parking lot. Every person had on a coat. The teacher holding the door open for us also was wearing a coat. I added a quick reminder that the reason he was cold was because HE decided he did not want that jacket. There was no other person to blame for this current shivery situation other than himself. He asked for his coat and I said it was at home and would be ready for him on our next outing.
By giving up on the battle of the winter coat, I got my sanity back. He learned pretty quickly that he did not like being cold.
Now, when he argues about wearing the coat I remind him of that brisk morning.
I’m really not a cold-hearted mama. I’m just molding a self-aware (albeit cold) child who can make reasonable decisions.