I apologize because I am sorry.
I have had to apologize more than ever while we are stuck at home. We are stuck in the house. For the 100th time today, my almost-five-year-old whines about not being able to play a game on my phone. He’s already been on my phone for hours. My one-year-old is crying because he wants to be held. The house is a mess, I am trying to make dinner, and my husband and I still both haven’t even put in all the hours we needed to for our jobs today. It’s going to be another long night.
I can feel my blood starting to boil. Though I am taking deep breaths and trying to calm down my anxiety, I lose it, and I yell. I yell at my oldest son, who shrinks away with a fearful look on his face as he runs to his feelings chart to turn the arrow to scared/sad as he begins to cry. I am at my wit’s end, but that is not his fault. He is a kid and doesn’t know how to handle these situations. Hell, I don’t know how to handle this situation we are in. Despite doing my best, I have lost my patience and have taken it out on my son.
So I ask him if I can hug him, and I hold him as his body melts into mine, wrapped in a safe space that just a moment earlier made him feel scared. When we are both calm, I kneel in front of him and say to him, “Mason, I am sorry. I had too many big feelings, and they bubbled over, and I took them out on you, and that was not fair. And I am sorry. I will try better tomorrow. I love you.”
He forgives me but reminds me that he doesn’t like it when I yell. Sometimes he tells me I made him feel sad or scared or mad. Sometimes we talk about it more, and other times we let it go and continue on our day. I ask him if we can start over, and the answer is always yes.
Having apologized, I resolve to do better.
Tomorrow I will do better. I will try to remember to ask for space and leave the room when I am starting to feel overwhelmed. I will tell my son that “mommy needs a two-minute break to do some breathing and calm down.” I will ask him for this space, and because we model this in our home, 9/10, he will give it to me. Often he will ask me if I need a hug.
But if I fail, and I lose my temper, I will apologize. No matter what. Because he is a child and I am his mother and “I am sorry” is just as important as “I love you” in our house. I will apologize to him because I am not perfect and need to own up to my mistakes. I will apologize to him because I am teaching him that sometimes even adults have big feelings that are hard to contain. I will apologize to him because I am teaching him to it is important to take responsibility for your actions. I will apologize to him because I love him.