For the record, I won the battle of the new winter jacket.
It was a hard-fought contest – me on one side, arguing that temperatures hovering around 30 degrees call for a warm outer layer, even for the brief walk from the car to the school's front doors; Betsy on the other side, rolling her eyes and sighing deeply.
She employed several pre-emptive strikes. She said, "There's no room in my locker for a winter coat" and "I don't need a winter coat – I'll just wear layers" and my favorite (because it's so easy to defend): "No one wears a winter jacket."
You'd think by now she would know that last grenade is a perpetual dud.
For days we each held our ground. I reminded Betsy the season was coming for sledding and ice skating. I fought hard with an argument about getting stuck in the snow on the side of the road without a warm coat in which to wait for a tow truck. I even went for her weak spot – fashion – by arguing it looks idiotic to wear a sweat shirt in subzero weather.
No matter. Regardless of the fun you might have in a winter jacket, the necessity to stay warm while changing a tire or the potential for a fashion faux pas, she held her ground.
"What's the point of staying physically fit when you're just going to put on a giant quilted coat that creates the illusion of an extra 30 or 40 pounds?" she asked. "Winter coats are puffy, and I refuse to be puffy."
If you have a teenager in your home – especially if you have a teenage girl – you know it's pointless to buy any article of attire about which your teen isn't thoroughly excited. To do otherwise is known in parenting vernacular as "flushing one's money down the proverbial toilet."
So I wasn't about to force a winter jacket on a daughter who used the word "refuse" in a sentence about her intentions with respect to my purchase. Not for nothing, she's out of my sight for at least nine hours every weekday. That's roughly 40 hours a week of refusing.
Still, while Betsy was willing to forgo a new coat on the grounds it might be puffy, I held my position. She might envision a winter spent in sweat shirts, making mad dashes from the house to the car to the mall or the Cineplex, shoulders hunched against the frigid wind. I envision something else.
In my mind, there will be a day (hopefully more than one) when the snow is piled high in the yard, gleaming in the sunshine after a long and blustery storm. Even though she's a teenager with a driver's license, a social life and a planner filled with activities and assignments, I still will suggest on such a sunny winter morning that she put on her winter coat, join her siblings and go outside.
This is why I had to win the battle.
Thus the quest began for a not-puffy winter jacket. Have you been shopping lately? This is not an easy task. Even I have to admit Betsy's assertion is true: Winter jackets make everyone look like the Michelin Tire Man.
It wasn't easy. For one thing, "puffy" is in the eye of the beholder, and Betsy's puffy threshold was extremely low. I persevered, however, and eventually, we found one she deemed "OK." This is not faint praise from a teenage girl.
The coat hung in the back hall closet for a few days, and then something happened I honestly didn't expect. On a bitter cold morning earlier this week, I climbed into the van to drive Betsy to school and discovered her sitting in the front seat … wearing the new jacket.
Let me put that another way: She was wearing the jacket without being told to wear it.
It may have been the frosty air, but the moment made me shiver. After all, in motherhood, the only thing better than winning the battle is ending the war.