Sometimes parenting forces you to make adult decisions in spite of yourself. I think people view me as confrontational because I express myself publicly and I advocate for others boldly. But I don't know if people realize how difficult and draining interpersonal conflict is for me. I think I have empath-like qualities, requiring me to do a lot of work around how I am perceived and having healthy boundaries when people don't like me or don't understand me. But that work is painful and is actual work, as in, it isn't super comfortable or natural for me. It pushes me. I'm okay with that because I want to grow as a person and I don't want to be ruled by my weaknesses so I often face that work head on, but it is definitely work.
I have also found that it is much easier for me to advocate for the needs of others than for my own. I think that's both because I am a care-taker, thereby elevating the needs of others above my own and being uncomfortable with having needs, and because advocacy is inevitably more personal and tense when it's about yourself. I've recently realized that my kids fall into the same category as myself, meaning, I struggle to advocate for my kids more than I do for a stranger. I want to minimize their needs like I want to minimize my own because I think that's how I will receive love and acceptance. Moms who make a stink get a reputation (and I recently had a real up-in-my-face, weeks long experience with this that was very, very painful). But it is a shameful, embarrassing thing to admit, that I am not naturally the confrontational, bad ass I am sometimes perceived to be on behalf of my children. Like, everyone knows good moms tear shit up if their kids get hurt. I tend to prefer to walk away with my tail between my legs than to throw punches in these situations.
So I see my inclination and my natural response but I will not stay there. Because it sucks. And it's not good for my kids. And it doesn't break the care-taking cycle. And, I've recently realized, it's not what's best for society either. If another kid harms my kid and their parent isn't made aware, the parent cannot address it. So even if I can help my kid unpack their experience, my staying silent to avoid an awkward conversation with a parent I may or may not be in relationship with robs that other parent the opportunity to parent their own child in the situation. And that is important. In our #metoo world, I have to wonder, were adult violators not parented in this area? Did their parents think they'd done right by their kid but were not made aware of incidents that may have occurred between them and other children when they were young? It's possible. So even if my kid is okay, is the other kid okay? I don't know if I don't speak up and their parent won't know either.
Adulting is hard. Parenting forces you to deal with your shit. And so, I am writing this to affirm to myself: I did the right thing today. I pushed through my discomfort and advocated for my kid and for another kid. And the parent I confronted was a beautiful, open-minded, lovely person. I am so thankful for that. But even if they had been terrible, it still would have been the right thing to do. I only get to choose my behavior and I feel good about it today. Healthy conflict for the win. Now I gotta replenish my emotional energy by eating a lot of Christmas cookies. See ya!