For the past few months, my husband and I have been trying to break Ethan of the habit of apologizing for everything. "Can I have more water, mommy? I'm sorry." "Can I have some more strawberries? I'm sorry." At this point, he can finish my sentence: "Ethan, please stop --" "Apologizing for everything? I'm sorry." It has been driving me crazy and I haven't been able to understand where he picked up this habit.
Until the grocery store, last week.
"Is it possible to please have this loaf of bread sliced?" I had asked the bakery employee. "I'm so sorry," I said as I handed the loaf over the counter. "Mommy? Was that unkind of you to ask for the bread to be sliced?" Instant kick in the ass. From that moment on, I began to notice that I am apologizing for everything -- for my feelings, for my bread slicing preferences, for everything -- and my sponge of a four year old is absorbing it all. And, consequently, doing it, too.
I made a promise to myself to stop apologizing for everything and to let Ethan see that his mother has a backbone.
Of course, I had to find it first.
Today is Day 6 where I've stood up for myself when needed and haven't apologized for requesting a little more milk in my coffee or asking a store employee if they have any more size 8 shoes in the back. I have spent all four and a half years of Ethan's life trying to encourage him to be proud of himself and then wondering why he lets people take advantage of him on the playground. Mom guilt is the real deal, guys.
Sometimes confrontation makes things feel messy and so I avoid it like it was a child with a wet, barking cough at the museum (sorry -- that one is more my idea of a nightmare than the plague, so I changed the old adage). But sometimes you should also say what you're feeling if it's honest and true and needs to be said. And, you know, you don't always have to chase your feelings with an apology.
I think this is just another instance where I'm supposed to be Ethan's teacher and, yet, it is he who teaches me lessons I should have learned a long time ago.