It has been one helluva hectic weekend. To say the least.
I picked up Padawan from school on Friday, and this weekend happened to be the weekend of his Pele All-Stars Soccer Tournament.
Which, #1: Hooray, Padawan!!! =D
. . . and #2: Soccer games all freaking weekend long.
Two games on Saturday, one at 9:45, one at 2:00 p.m., and a game on Sunday morning at 8:45.
Unfortunately for our household, this caused a little. . . snag.
Pad's mom emailed me a couple of weeks ago, letting me know that his tournament would be this weekend (gave me PLENTY of notice, to her credit), and that it would be his weekend to be with us. The snag arrived on Friday, however, which is when we actually received the SCHEDULE for the games. I glanced over it.
Okay. . . gotta be at the field at 9:45 on Saturday morning. . . and then have to be back on the field for game #2 at 2:00 p.m. . . .
. . . and right about then is when I heard Took let out a huge bout of dog-barkingly harsh coughs from the den.
I checked his forehead. Slight fever. Clammy. Runny nose, sniffles, that "look" around the eyes. . .
So I checked the weather report for Saturday. Temps between 37 and 50-ish degrees.
I repeat: Uh-oh.
So I quickly ran through my options in my head: Took was fighting off a cold, and I couldn't risk him almost certainly getting sicker by sitting out in the cold weather all day long on Saturday. So get a babysitter for Took, while I took Pad to his game? Not happening.
Let him stay with his dad while I took Pad? Nope. Mister was working nights all weekend, and would either be at work, or sleeping in preparation for work.
I looked hard at my options. They were slim.
So, with no other solutions within my grasp, I sent Pad's mom an email, and apprised her of my situation. Basically, I said this:
Hi. Look, I'm sorry, but this is what's going on: Took is sick. Mister is working all weekend, I don't have a babysitter, and I cannot in good conscience keep Took out in the cold weather all day on Saturday. Our options, as I see them, are this: Either switch weekends that we get Padawan, let me meet you at the field on Saturday morning and leave him with you, then pick him up after the last game is over, or skip it altogether.
She was not happy. I was changing plans at the last minute (through no fault of my own, but still), and she was annoyed about it. She had already made plans for Saturday afternoon. She told me that I could go to the first game, then kill some time, eat some lunch, get the kids indoors somewhere, and wait until the second game.
I responded to this with basically my original statement. Took was sick, the weather was cold, and I really only had three options. She could pick whichever one suited her best.
She was not happy about that.
She said she felt like I was being condescending and combative and hard to work with, and she felt like my giving her "three options, you pick one" was just generally a kind of pissy thing to do.
I felt like she was being snippy with me, and she felt like I was being pissy with her.
We were both right.
Mother/step-mother interactions can be a delicate thing, and balances must be maintained.
So I looked at my own actions and words, took a deep breath, and sent her another email.
In it, I said this:
If I've been combative, pissy, or condescending -- I'm sorry.
It was not my intention to make you feel that way. You DID give me notice of this event in advance, and we've always had a good working relationship, and it is something that I'm very grateful for. However, my son is sick. I'm sorry. I couldn't have foreseen that, any more than I could have foreseen that the weather was going to be cold this weekend. I don't have many options, and I'm just trying to find a workable solution. These are the options, as I see them.
Long story short? I met her at the field on Saturday morning and dropped Pad off with her, with plans to pick him up after his last game was over. This still meant that I would be making two full trips back and forth to Liberty Park, but it beat having Took out in the weather all day, feeling poorly, and with no nap.
When I dropped Pad off with her, I thanked her. For helping me out. We hugged. I looked her in the eye and said that I appreciated her understanding, and her changing her plans to help me.
And then she said the strangest thing. She said:
"You're more assertive than I am. I'm glad we have the kind of relationship where we can talk to each other about what's going on, get irritated at each other sometimes, and then move on and get over it without any drama."
Even though it was freezing outside, and I was just ready to get my baby back home, it was a really good moment.
Also. . . I've never been called "assertive" before.
And there's probably good reason for that: I never was.
I've always been very go-with-the-flow, and absolutely can't stand confrontation. I HATE confrontation. I would totally kick confrontation's butt, if I could.
That's how non-confrontational I am.
But THAT day. . . that day I WAS assertive. Not ugly, not rude, just. . . assertive. Just "I've run into a snag, and this is what I can do. I'm sorry for any inconvenience, but this is just the way it is."
In the past, this would NOT have been my way.
I've always been the person that would let pretty much anything slide, so that the OTHER person could be more comfortable. I would worry about myself later. That's the way I've always been.
But now. . . now I'm getting older.
And I'm thinking a lot. (I'm ALWAYS thinking. OVER-thinking. . . .it makes for a lot of headaches, but sometimes it is worth it.)
And most of my ruminations have brought me to this:
I still don't want to hurt any one's feelings. EVER.
(NOT because I'm just this really kind, Super #1 Saint-person, but because it HURTS me to hurt others. I lie awake at night and think about it. Every night. Things I did in second grade that still plague me. And I have NO desire to add one more thing to that list of regretted hateful words.)
And so, due to this intense desire to never inflict pain on another, my habit USED to be to just put MY needs and feelings on the back burner, and worry about myself later.
But THIS issue, THIS weekend, was NOT about me. It was about my son.
Sooooo. . . SURPRISE! Hello, Assertive Dani!!
But this newly-uncovered assertion is not entirely about my son, and protecting him. It is also about TEACHING HIM.
More to the point: Teaching him to do something that I am still learning to do, which is: Being kind and respectful to others, while still speaking my own truth.
Let me say it again.
BE KIND AND RESPECTFUL TO OTHERS, WHILE STILL SPEAKING YOUR OWN TRUTH.
It is not always an easy thing to do. . .
I watch, and read, a lot of sci-fi. And lots and lots of fantasy stories. There are books in every corner of our house. On every nightstand and table, on shelves, in baskets, stacked 3 feet-high in closets, and uncountable bins full of them in the garage.
I would READILY wager that our home library out-books any home in our neighborhood by at LEAST 50. Seriously. I'll take all comers. And I. WILL. BEAT. YOU. DOWN.
I read for enjoyment, and I read to my son at night. Every night. Because I love the written word, and I long to pass that love on to him, and because I love the time together at the end of every day, and because I feel that there are many, MANY stories that he NEEDS to hear.
My head is FULL TO THE BRIM (!) with tales of brave knights, of heroes and heroines who stood up for what they believed in. Of people who didn't feel that they were big enough to make any difference (I'm looking at you, hobbits), but somehow found the courage to do what had to be done. Stories of people who did what was RIGHT. Even when it was HARD. And it was, almost always, very, very hard.
My son will know of the ways of the Jedi. He will know of Prince Caspian, and the battles of Narnia. He will be told of a land called Terabithia, and he will learn of the courage of a small group of hobbits.
He will know, because I will teach him.
And WHY will I teach him?
Because the world is flawed. Because darkness is real, and a handful of light is the only thing that will push it back. He will know because he already loves Spiderman, and even Spiderman lives by a CODE.
He will learn because it is IMPORTANT.
Then LIVE by it.
grab a sword.