The Apologetic Mother – Perfectionism Rears its Ugly Head

I’ve recently realized how much apologizing I actually do on a daily basis.  “Sorry about my appearance- I just got so busy today,”  or “Don’t mind my house – it would be so clean if these kids weren’t here.”  Sorry, sorry, sorry.  Oh, so very sorry.

It hurts – yes, hurts that I feel the need to apologize for so many things about the way I just am, or the way that my life is.  But most specifically, I think I feel more ashamed about the apologies I make on behalf of my children.  Apologizing for a goofy, slightly uncouth comment my 9 year old Freckles made, or for the irrational tantrum dreamed up and acted out by my beautiful 2 year old, Curly, or the excuses I make for my 10 month old Smiley who just starting crawling when other kids her age have been doing it for months, “I think her older sisters do too much for her,” or “she is probably focusing on other skills first.”  Whatever the excuse or the apology I’m making – it isn’t for them – it’s for me.

As I tried to get to the root of the problem, I started to realize that at its core, my apologetic nature is directly tied to my own perfectionist tendencies.  I want to be a beautiful, youthful, fit, smart, independent, creative, Betty Crocker, volunteering, funny, and kind mother and wife.  And I strive for this own perfect version of myself daily and it is….exhausting.

So, recently, I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to just stop.  Stop apologizing, rationalizing, excuse-making, over-explaining myself.  It’s just a horrible waste of time for anyone, but especially mothers.  Our kids are just kids.  We all have our own inner battles and so do they.  At one turn, they may struggle or act out, and then just as soon as you’ve found the shelter from their typical storm, they change, they grow, and they surprise you.

Today, we were at a school picnic and things were going great – kids were having fun, parents were having fun, and all was right in the world.  But then, the clock struck 6:30pm and Curly & Smiley just started to act out in the special ways that only they can explain.  And the usual apologies, “Oh, they’re getting tired, I’m so sorry, we need to go,” ensued.  So, we took red-faced Curly and back-arching Smiley outta there and got them strapped into their respective carseats.  Smiley was still fussing in the car but Curly had calmed down enough to say to her, ” It’s okay, sister.  We’ll go to the playground again soon.”  And there was the surprise of the day:  the consciousness of a 2 year old to look outside of herself for a moment – to not worry about how she was still feeling – but to recognize that her little sister needed love and reassurance.

Today, at that moment, I knew that there was no apology needed for her earlier tantrum.  She’s going to work things out on her own as we all do, in our own way, in our own time.  It’s nobody’s business why we do the things we do, why we make the choices we make, or how we appear to the world at any given moment.  Things that seem perfect often aren’t anyway.  And so, World, I’m done with the excessive apologies.  I’ll save them for when they’re really needed – and so should you.

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