“Mommy, I forgot another snack. I’m sorry.”
She’d brought enough for all of us plus some. She’d counted out three apples for the three of us. She found her little ziplock bag of cheerios. She remembered a spoon for the applesauce. She helped me pour milk for her brother and get a water bottle for us to share.
She had nothing to apologize for. She was thoughtful. She was prepared. She did everything right and she still thought it wasn’t enough.
She’s 4. And you know where she got that? Apologizing for the inconsequential? Seeking mercy for being human? Begging forgiveness for fucking existing in the world?
How many times has she heard me do the same. Oh, I didn’t put enough salt on the chicken. Sorry! Sorry the house is a wreck. I only baked one kind of cookie this week. Sorry! Sorry I look like crap today. “Smile, beautiful,” says the slimy guy at the gas station…and my response? Sorry! I’ve apologized to mannequins…MANNEQUINS. Always in the same, rueful tone. Always self deprecating. My days are peppered with those irritating two syllables that shout, “I am not enough, I will never be enough and I will apologize for it before you have a chance to judge me (or, god forbid, think I don’t realize exactly how not enough I am).
And what’s even worse? All the apologizing I do has made the big I’m sorries meaningless. I’m sorry I had to pee, I’m sorry I totally lost my shit and threatened to never let you go to the park again…which of those means more when all you hear your mother say all day long is sorry, sorry, sorry.
If I ever questioned my decision to challenge my beliefs about who I am…never again. Because today slapped me in the face. Not only is my shitty sense of self worth paralyzing to me, it’s being passed down and it ends here.