“I’m sorry we can’t go to the park because it’s raining. I’m just so sorry about the rain,” I said to my son today. The rain wouldn’t stop, and he was upset that we couldn’t make the short trek to play on the playground equipment. It’s been a rainy summer, and despite my efforts for us to have fun inside, we were all desperate to get outside, to play and to run in the park.
When I said this to him, he looked at me, patted my shoulder, and said, “It’s OK, Mama. It’s not your fault that it’s raining.” At his response, I realized how ridiculous it was for me to be apologizing for the rain. I cannot control the rain. What I am teaching him? How many times a day does he hear me say I’m sorry? Am I making him an “over-apologizer?”
I’m sorry I forgot to empty the dishwasher.
I’m sorry you don’t like those pants with that top; pick something else! Can we please go for that walk? OK, now I’m sorry I yelled.
I’m sorry I’m late.
I’m sorry I didn’t text you back.
I’m sorry my daughter vomited all in my hair and we had to leave the party early.
I’m sorry I didn’t flip the laundry.
I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, but I already apologized like ten times. I can try again?
I’m sorry the house is a mess.
I’m sorry that I’m not buying you candy (Daddy just made cookies!).
I’m sorry you are stressed.
I’m so sorry it’s so damn hot today.
I’m sorry she’s tired; I tried to get her to take a nap.
I’m sorry I didn’t put my laundry away. I don’t have a good excuse, I guess.
I’m sorry I said anything at all.
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
I say those words way too often. I’m constantly apologizing to others and to myself. I apologize ALL the time. I apologize when I mean it and when I don’t. I apologize for things I have no control over (like the rain). The quickest way to fix something is to say “I’m sorry,” right?
Well, you know what? I’m actually NOT sorry.
I want my kids to know that they should only apologize when they mean it. Those are sacred words, and in most cases, other words can suffice. I will try again.
I’m not sorry that the day was so busy and I left dishes in the sink and the dishwasher is full. I was reading and playing with the kids. We really had a great day.
I’m not sorry that I tried to help you with your clothes. GET DRESSED. Let’s go for that walk.
I’m really not sorry I’m late. Shit happens. I know you understand. I will try harder next time.
I’m not sorry I didn’t text back. I saw your text and I meant to. I’m so glad to see you instead.
I’m not sorry she vomited; I can’t control that. Thank you so much for helping me clean up and asking about her later. I know you enjoyed the party without us.
I’m not sorry I didn’t flip the laundry. We took a walk and I simply forgot.
I’m not sorry I hurt your feelings. I was sorry, but now, I feel like you are acting like a jerk because you won’t move on. How many times do you expect me to say I’m sorry?
I’m not sorry about the house being a mess. I just can’t keep up. It takes a lot for me to admit that, but I’m just not sorry.
I’m not sorry you can’t have candy. You cannot have candy. Period. Please stop.
I’m not sorry you are stressed. I see that you are and I want to help. Can I buy you a coffee?
I’m not sorry it’s so hot. I’m not. I can’t control that. Let’s fill up the kiddie pool and soak our feet.
I’m not sorry she’s tired. I did my best. She’s a wild card, that one.
I’m not one bit sorry about the laundry, actually. I hate putting it away. Deal with it.
I’m always apologizing for my feelings and my words, but I’M NOT SORRY. I’m hoping that in picking other words, I can encourage more meaningful conversation with my kids. Starting right now, I will only say I’m sorry when I mean it. I’m going to teach my kids to do the same, and I’m just not sorry.