Today something happened that made my heart stop. Actually, two things. Do you know the feeling? That feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when your insides clench and makes your breath catch in your throat. It happens to me every once in a while, but normally I know when it's coming. For example: when the plane is taking off, it's the exact moment that the wheels leave the tarmac. Or when the plane is landing, it's the exact moment when the wheels hit the tarmac. Or that moment just as I am pushing open the stall door to the public washroom because I'm not sure what's waiting for me on the other side. Or every time Sam attempts to climb down our very steep staircase all by himself.
But today was different. Today it was unexpected. Today, my stepdaughter was asked to guest play for the U12 Boys team because they were short players. The coach for the boys emailed my husband and asked specifically for Emily and another girl. I have to admit, I was really proud when Paul forwarded me the email... and I was also surprised that Emily said yes. This was a game that I was not going to miss and since Sam spent the night at Nonna's, I was good to go!
So off we went. Paul, Emily, her mom, and I, and of course we were all giving Emily various pep talks the entire drive to London. "Just play hard." "Don't worry to much." "Just get in there and show those boys what you've got." We were saying all these things believing she wasn't going to get much time on the pitch. We could also tell that Emily was really nervous. Nervous to play with the boys, nervous because we were watching, but most of all, nervous because there's a boy (for the purposes of this story we will refer to him as "the boy") that she has had a crush on since Kindergarten, who plays on this particular team. She wanted to ensure that she impressed not only us, but the coach, and of course "the boy".
So the boys start playing and Emily and the other girl are on the bench. Emily is biting her nails. Our boys started winning right away, so about 10 minutes into the game the coach put our girls on the field. And that's when it happend... that feeling in the pit of my stomach. I couldn't believe how much I wanted Emily to succeed. I wanted her to put her insecurites aside and play well. I wanted it so badly that it made me catch my breath. I wanted it for her. I wanted it for her dad. I wanted it for her mom. And I wanted it for me too! I wanted it so badly that I didn't even realize I was holding my breath. And guess what? She did it! She played well. She made some nice stops, nice tackles, nice passes, nice kicks. She even tackled some poor boy from the other team and he fell into the nets (it was all she would talk about on the way home).
Our team was up 8-0 and I was relaxed and enjoying the game and I could tell Emily was too. And then, to my surprise, it happend again. About 10 minutes before the game ended our club's U13 girls started showing up for their game which was next on the schedule. All of a sudden I heard one of the girls say loudly "Hey (Nameless)! Your boyfriend is here!!" And that's when it happened again... "the boy" has a girlfriend and she had shown up to watch the girls play. My heart stopped, and my breath caught in my throat. I looked over at Emily who was only a few feet away on the bench, hoping she hadn't heard. I didn't want anything to divert her attention from the game because she was doing well. Again, I didn't realize I was holding my breath. Thankfully she hadn't heard this exchange and I could breathe easily again. I saw the sadness in her eyes when the game was over and she noticed "the girlfriend". However, "the boy" didn't seem to pay much attention so Emily was able to enjoy her moment and their win.
This parenting and step-parenting thing is much more difficult than I ever thought. My desire for Emily and Sam to be happy and well adjusted sometimes keeps me up at night. Are we doing right by them? Will they be ok? Will they have good friends? Will they succeed in whichever path they choose? Are we preparing them for the tough times they will have to go through? Are we helping them enjoy the present? Are we giving good advice? Are we being too hard on them? Are we being too lenient? I have to remember to just breathe, go with my gut, do my best and everything will work out as it should.