I am not sorry

“I’m sorry.”  These two words are powerful.  They most certainly have their time and place in language and in relationships.  However, they are two words that can be overused, especially by women.  I am one of those women.  I have apologized for things that I have no control over.  Heck, I’ve even apologized to servers at restaurants for THEIR mistakes.  “I’m sorry, but I ordered a baked potato instead of french fries.”  And then I might even throw in another apology for good measure.

This apologizing and excusing comes into play in motherhood as well.  Some moms feel the need to justify their decisions and their child-rearing to their friends and even random strangers.  We may be confident in what we’ve chosen.  We may firmly believe that we’re doing the best we can for our families.  Yet, seeing another mom doing something differently or a stranger just looking at us a certain way and we feel like we ought to explain. I’m sure psychologists have lots of theories and explanations for this.  I’m sure I could delve deep into my psyche and perhaps my past experiences and come up with some reasons as well.  But that’s not what this blog post is about.  This post is about me learning to do something about all of this unnecessary apologizing and explaining.

In the last few years, I have been pushing myself to just shut my mouth.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  I almost always still feel the urge to explain myself or to apologize.  However, I am learning to stifle that urge more and more.  This is for myself, but it’s also for my children, especially my daughter.  I don’t want her to apologize for things that aren’t her fault.  I don’t want her to feel the need to explain herself to anyone who doesn’t need to know why she’s made the decisions she has.  I want her to be bold and confident.  And I know that everything I do, every interaction I have that she is watching and learning.  Just as she talks to her brother in the same tone of voice and using the same words that I do, so will she mimic this behavior.  I’m sorry, but that’s not OK with me.  No, wait.  I’m not sorry.

I am not sorry when I don't need to be.

You, mama, don’t have to be sorry either.  You don’t have to apologize and you don’t have to explain yourself.  We other moms probably aren’t judging you nearly as harshly (if at all!) as you think we are.  If we are, then unfriend us.  Nobody needs that negativity in her life. Here are some things of late for which I refuse to apologize or explain.  You can judge me if you want.  Go ahead.  I really, truly don’t care.  If it bothers you enough, click away to another Web site.

– I’m not sorry for feeding my children chicken nuggets for lunch every couple of weeks or so.  I recently had a friend visiting and found myself starting to explain why we were having chicken nuggets that day.  And then I stopped.  She didn’t care.

– I’m not sorry for ordering my food a certain way at a restaurant because I have dietary restrictions I don’t always care to discuss.

– I’m not sorry for picking my son up off the floor at the hair salon when he started throwing a temper tantrum and distract him by looking out the window instead of disciplining him. It was the moment.  And it was the right decision at the time.  Trust me.  That doesn’t happen all the time.

– I’m not sorry for my dog jumping on you at the vet’s office when you got him all excited.

– I’m not sorry for letting my daughter watch a third episode of “Daniel Tiger” so I could have a few minutes to myself.

– I’m not sorry that I need downtime.  I don’t need to justify it.

– I’m not going to explain why the one afternoon I had a break from my children recently that I spent the time reading and napping instead of cleaning my house that was verging on a disaster zone.

– I’m not going to apologize for the three minutes I spent checking Facebook on my iPhone during lunch with my children with whom I had been interacting with constantly for the previous four hours.

– I’m not going to explain why my daughter isn’t taking another dance class this fall.

– I have no need to explain why sometimes we eat canned Spaghetti-Os for dinner and my children gobble it up better than if I spent an hour cooking.

– I’m not going to explain why my children are in the car seats they are or facing the direction they’re facing.  They are safe.

Every day this list could change, evolve and grow.  And every day, someone in my life who I think may be caring about a decision I made or judging me is most likely too worried about themselves to even start to care about my decisions or judge me for them.  I don’t have to be constantly sorry. I am not responsible for the happiness of the entire world.  I cannot control every single thing in every single situation.  I am not perfect.

I’m not even sorry for my imperfection.  My imperfection is what makes me human.  My imperfection is what reminds me that I need God.  My imperfection makes me real and gives me goals to work toward.  My imperfection gives me opportunities to teach my children about how to make mistakes and take responsibility for them.  I am not sorry for being me even though sometimes I wish I were a better version of me.  I also do not owe people an explanation as to why I am the way I am or have made the choices I have.

To some, this is not earth shattering news.  That is awesome.  To others like me who have struggled with this tendency throughout life, I ask you to join me.  Partner with me in working to sometimes just be quiet instead of apologize.  Remind yourself that you aren’t responsible for the happiness of the whole world.  Remember that you don’t owe anyone explanations.  Remember that sometimes you can just keep quiet and that’s OK.  You don’t have to apologize or explain.  Join me in silence.  You won’t be sorry that you did.  😉

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