A few weeks ago you started saying "Sorry". You say sorry a lot. Sorry for cleaning up, sorry for eating your lunch, sorry for taking a crap, sorry for playing with your trucks. You are "sorry" for a lot of things. Most of the things you do and say are not in need of forgiveness. In fact, I would say most of the time, you are faultless when you say "Sorry". I started to wonder where you had picked up this habit.
Right now, I am off for the summer (At this point in your life, I teach part-time) and you are going to daycare once a week. You learn many things from your friends at daycare. Like, the night you had just finished your dinner and I was serving you some chocolate cake when a housefly came darting down upon your chocolate delight and then shot up and hit your forehead. I was already shooing the fly away when the Bee Tirade began. "BEE! BEE! BEE MAMA! BEEEEEE! AHHHHH!" Tears were pouring. Arms were flailing. You were near hyper-ventilation, desperately trying to rid yourself of this flying demon. You were fucking terrified. I had never seen you this afraid. I had never seen you so frightened that you could NOT eat chocolate cake. This must be real fear. It was chocolate cake for Christ's sake!
You begged me to be let out of your high chair. Of course, this whole time, I am frantically trying to calm you by saying that it was only a fly, and it wouldn't hurt you. You would have none of it. You were convinced this bee was out for blood; your blood, and you were not going to sit in that highchair and let it suck you dry. After removing you from the highchair, you immediately attached yourself to my leg. I cleaned up your dinner as you clung to me asking about the bee. " Bee Mama?" "See bee Mama?" "Bee flies Mama?" This continued throughout bath time, while putting on your pajamas and resting before story time. You even interrupted your favorite story to ask me, yet again, about the bee. By this time, I had explained to you (several times) that "bees were your friends." " Bees would not hurt you" "There are no bees in the house" "That was not a bee, it was a fly" "Bees like flowers not people" and so on. At this point in your life, this is the most conversation we had ever had about bees. You had never been stung. You had never even encountered a bee (which seems weird as I write it). I did not read you stories about manic bees. You did not watch shows about vampire bees. Where was this fear coming from? When we arrived at daycare the following week, I spoke with your caretaker who assured me that you never acted this way with her. She did tell me that your daycare BFF was afraid of everything. You two play together a lot. He is 4 years old. I don't know any 4yo that is not afraid of bees (or bugs in general) so it seemed a logical explanation that you may have picked this up from him or one of the other kids at daycare. It is like the fear of bees is a cultural and subliminal part of childhood.
OK, so I can see you had a negative experience and I thought I could see the clear linear path to how you arrived there. So, it was only logical that you have picked up this "sorry" business from me. I started to keep track of how much I apologized during the day. I lost track at 33 times. Sorry had become a natural part of my vocabulary. And I said it unknowingly and without cause 75% of the time. WTF!? Recently, I read somewhere, that women say sorry more than men (shocker!). In this article, it said that women apologize too much..for everything. I started to think about this. In my mind, I feel like women have to apologize because we are not aloud to desire anything. Desire is not attractive in women. Or rather, too much desire is unattractive. Don't desire too much food, you'll look like a pig. Don't desire too much sex, people will think you're a slut. Don't desire too much power at work, people will think you're a bitch. Or something simple like, don't desire to take the open spot in check out line, you'll look like a selfish wench. So the solution, it seems, that if you desire too much of these things, you can just apologize. It's like putting a band-aid on open heart surgery.
There is definitely a time and place for apologies. Shit, there are plenty of people in the world who need to apologize more. Many people deserve an apology and never get it. I am not speaking of those kind of sorry's. I am talking about the sorry for useless things. Like when I have an opinion about something. I have to start the sentence with " I'm sorry BUT, I think....." or when trying to get by someone not paying attention, "Sorry, excuse me.", or going to Trader Joes, "Sorry, can I have that shopping cart?" Isn't "excuse me" enough? Why am I apologizing for speaking to someone? I can't help but think this practice has more to do with imposed roles for women than it does manners. Women have to strict but, permissive. Have a strong voice, but not speak too loudly. Be voluptuous but, not fat. I must remain demur, and open to suggestions, caring and supportive of others feelings (not that this is always a bad thing). I must not show any moxie or fight or damned horny-ness! And in motherhood, I have to be sorry when the characters I've been fed don't fit into my story. Sorry is the speech of guilt. And guilt is the albatross around every mother's neck. Sorry not sorry, kid. You've taught me this lesson. I say sorry too much. And I don't have to. Because, I don't need to apologize for everything that is wrong with the world. I will only be sorry if you do.
I love you,