Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Mommy guilt

I should be posting about leaving my baby and letting someone else raise her...that's my normal mommy guilt.

But not today. Today I am guilty of something else.

I apologize. Too much.

I bump into someone--apology.
I interrupt someone--apology.
I move something someone might need--apology.
Get the picture?

There are times I apologize when no apology is needed. Sometimes I don't even mean it--the words just flow forth before I even think about them. I go in cycles when I apologize more and then become aware of the habit and work hard to break it. Inevitably, the words sneak back into my vocabulary.

Unfortunately, I've passed the apology curse along to my daughter. Don't get me wrong. I WANT M to apologize...when she's done something wrong or hurt some one's feelings or caused a problem. I want her to apologize when it's warranted. Not every time she opens her mouth.

Tonight we were eating a hurried dinner. She was GENTLY kicking her feet and kicked my leg by mistake. I said, "M, keep your feet still. You kicked Mommy." She got out of her chair, hugged my leg, and said, "Mommy, I sorry."

Sunday afternoon we were shopping at a department store. M was holding some of the items we were going to buy. She dropped them. What did she say? "I sorry."

M dropped her bowl of crackers as she carried them to her table. What did she say? You got it: "I sorry, Mommy."

It's so very sweet and tender, but UNNECESSARY. Of course I make her apologize when she kicks Noah. I want her to apologize when she is disrespectful. I want her to apologize when she's done something wrong.

How in the world do I help her understand when to apologize and when not to apologize? Tonight when she GOT OUT OF HER CHAIR AND HUGGED MY LEG, I picked her up and told her how much I loved her. I also told her that she didn't have to say "I sorry, Mommy." I just wanted her to stop kicking her feet. Do I apologize too much in front of her? How do I teach her? I definitely do not want this to become a habit. I want her apologies to be genuine. I want MY apologies to be genuine.


Arizaphale said...

But I am sure they ARE genuine. As are yours! I also suffer from this affliction so I comment from empathy.
We should live in Japan. There it is absolutely expected that you apologise profusely and often! They begin most conversations with 'sumi masen' (I apologise for my spelling) which basically means "I'm sorry".
Sorry, you probably don't want to listen to me; sorry if I am taking up your time; sorry, I'm sure you have more important people to talk to; sorry I didn't get to you more quickly!!! So you see, apologising for dropping the crackers is perfectly appropriate!! What is NOT appropriate is the implication that I am 'sorry that I exist in the first place to mess up your lovely home and tidy life'.
I once commented to a friend that I needed to learn to accept myself and stop apologising for everything. She said "Maybe you have to accept that you're a person who apologises!!!!" Hmmm there's a tricky one.
Believe in yourself, apologise when you make a mistake and you and your daughter will both be even finer than you are now. Hugs.

Anna said...

I hear you--I think girls and women do say it too much sometimes, but I think better to err on the side of civility,don't you!

It sounds like you will have no trouble teaching her to be genuine.

christinator said...

I am exactly the same way! I apologize all the time, too. My husband doesn't understand at all, and often says "but it's not your fault...why are you accepting blame?" But to me, it's not always about accepting blame; it's about empathy and being sorry for the situation...not for what I did. Nontheless, I do sometimes feel silly for apologizing at every turn.

And Natalie, everything I know about you tells me that you are a very sincere and genuine person. M will learn the same thing from you!