Stop Being Sorry for Doing Your Job: Getting rid of the common excuses of motherhood
We mothers have a litany of common phrases. It’s almost as if someone has written them down and handed them out to all new moms.
“Here you go, dear, these will come in handy.”
They go like this…
“I’m sorry my house is such a big mess. My parents-in-law are flying in and my kids have lice and I think I’m supposed to make spaghetti for this big fundraiser tomorrow, but I’m not sure. What were you saying?”
It’s the house apology. Every time I walk into someone’s house the mother apologizes. For what? When I walk into a family home, this is what I actually see.
I see that life is happening there. There are art projects haphazardly magneted on the fridge or tacked into the walls. There are holes where teenagers have later ripped said art right off the walls in embarrassment.
I see dirt (yes I do see it!) where kids have played outdoors and brought the whole of the outdoors inside. My kids are known to stick flowers right into my hair that still have bugs on them.
I see clothes that have been worn, dinners that have been made and alternately loved and hated by children. I see couch cushions that have been soiled by little hands and feet as they curled up next to mom and dad, who were surviving the night by watching Moana one more time.
I see family. And family looks messy. If your house looks even a tiny bit like this, congratulations, you are doing your job. Your job has consequences. Beautiful, messy consequences. And I don’t care at all what your house looks like. I am probably coming over to see YOU after all.
And I might notice that you are wearing clothes that look slept in, but I really don’t care about that either. Don’t you dare apologize for your comfy clothes.
This apology comes in many forms, but I will give one common summer example.
“By the way, before you got here, I had my baby in an SPF shirt all day. I think it’s okay now that the sun has gone down.”
Um, yah, I do think it’s okay that you dress and care for your own baby however you see fit.
I see these kinds of captions on social media posts all the time.
“BTW, it wasn’t the baby drinking the beer, it was the daddy.”
Poor mothers everywhere are just bracing themselves to get slammed and unfriended for their poor parenting. But I don’t know any moms who aren’t trying their best, and getting advice when needed, and working their fingers to the bone to give their kids the best chances in life.
All of us are making mistakes. I still cringe every time I think about letting one of my kids burn scarlet in the sun, or eat so much sugar they got sick, or some other nonsense.
But would I go back and change everything I’ve done? No, because at the time I was doing my best. That’s all I had to give.
You don’t need to apologize for making the decisions that God gave you to make. You’re the one who birthed, adopted, fostered the kid. You get to make the decisions. Case closed. Own them and move on. Life is too short for worrying about what everyone thinks.
And we all know you gave your baby a sip of that beer.
This might be the toughest one.
“I’m sorry, she just does that sometimes.”
All of our kids act up. And they often choose the worst time. They do it in on the airplane. They do it at our in-laws house. They do it in at the grocery store. They are all little humans in training. And for some of us it is mortifying. We internalize it as failure. We must be doing something wrong. Either that or we know they are usually well behaved and so we feel we need to make excuses for them.
If you have a kid with special needs, just multiply those feelings times ten.
Why are we apologizing for little humans who haven’t grown up yet? They are usually doing whatever is developmentally appropriate and most fun for them in the moment.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t take responsibility for our kids, or apologize when they have marked on someone’s pristine cloud-colored walls with red Sharpie. Sure, that’s worth an “I’m sorry. I will go get my magic eraser and have that up in a jiffy.”
I’m saying we shouldn’t apologize for the general state of our children if they are not meeting others’ expectations. If my kid loves to wear mismatched socks and soccer shorts to every event and I’m okay with that, then I should just be okay with that and not have to explain them away.
If my kid is struggling with social skills and isn’t yet able to create a firm handshake moment and a stern “Good-day Sir!” like someone expects and I’m okay with that, then I should just be okay with that and not have to explain their perceived shortcomings.
Shortcomings are in the eye of the beholder anyway. And there are too many beholders to be beholden to.
My kids are where they are in the their development. Let me say that again. My kids are where they are. That’s the end of the story. I’m teaching them the best I can, and I do think they are a wonderful bunch. But I have to stop apologizing for where they are not.
Acceptance is key to joy.
We have to accept all of our family members (including ourselves) in all their wonkiness and wonderfulness right where they are. That’s where the joy of family life comes in and breathes new life on everything. Being content with where we are.
Apologizing means we’re failing in some way. And I have a funny feeling that most of the time we’re not. Most of the time we are just being imperfect us or we’re just not meeting someone else’s idea of perfection.
When we need advice, we should seek it out, from respected people that we trust. And then we listen. We take notes. We bare our souls to those people who will treasure them and keep our thoughts sacred and not condemn us.
No other opinions get to hold a place in our minds and hearts unless we let them. Other people don’t know our whole story. So they can think what they want but we don’t have to change or explain or apologize for them.
Moms, we have an incredibly tough job. Don’t be sorry for any part of it.