On the telephone, The Daughter (as she sometimes calls herself) was fussing about her teen and tween children. "I'm on the warpath (her metaphor) about the mess. I'm tired of cleaning up after them. Right now T. has left a pile of her homework on the kitchen floor. She's at ballet for two hours. What do I do? Walk around it or clean it up. Why does she do this? And O. has left half a sandwich and piece of apple on the table. I failed to train them when they were young and now it's hopeless."
Every parent in North America, and perhaps every parent in the known universe, might make the same complaint.
I tried to console The Daughter. "If you'd like to take ten minutes to vent, I'm here to listen."
She vented for thirty seconds, then fell silent. Frustrated.
I said, "Here's the way I think of it now. You lose every battle, but you win the war."
"Explain," she muttered.
"It's obvious. When you and your brothers were growing up, there was some sort of conflict every day. One of you didn't call and didn't show up for dinner. Whoever was supposed to take the garbage out, 'forgot' to do it. Someone would get into a screaming fit at someone else over nothing signficant. Quarters would be stolen out of pants pockets. Some inches of liquor would mysteriously disappear. Sassy words would be spoken to parents and parents would be devastated. Someone wasn't sleeping at the house where he or she said he or she was going to stay. Mileage on the car speedometer would increase without explanation. There were horrible scenes when someone was asked to do the most minimal chores.
And yet, despite it all, despite the fact that every day I lost the battle, I won the war. Each of you turned out to be what my own father used to call 'solid, taxpaying citizens.' You've all doing good works. All living upright, moral lives. All creating healthy, functioning families. All of you are excellent parents. The grandchildren are thriving.
So in the long run, I won. Lost every battle, won the war."
The Daughter said, "Blog it."