My Journey as a Mother

Parenting 101: Learning to Apologize

Apologize right now or we’re not going out!

Apologize right now, maybe then I’ll think about your treat.

I have done this mistake. This is not asking her to apologize, but it looks like I bribed her through things. Her face would look like a sad pup once and a happy pup at another.

Image Courtesy: Unsplash

When it comes to saying Sorry or sharing an apology, I do it immediately. Often, I realize a mistake the moment I let my words out. That’s my problem. Until I say something, I think on it. After I say something, I think only about it. I feel guilty, crazy and decide not to talk again.

Sometimes I feel, I don’t really know how to talk. Most of the times, it is because my mind is always full with something or the other. When approached at these times, I use my razor sharp tongue. I find myself in major trouble due to overthinking.

As a daughter and a wife, I feel I was tolerated since they believed that I would change once I realize it. Once my daughter started talking, my sharp responses became a rude awakening.

It always hurt my Ego

When my daughter did not listen to what I say, I usually take it personally. I used to behave like she never listened to me, ever. When it is in front of family, the laughter from everyone when she does not listen hurts my Ego. I expected too much from a 2-year-old. At times, I still do.

If she was running, she had to stop and turn if I called her just once. She was not given much choice and had to eat whatever I gave her. If I say NO, then that’s final.

Now I realize she would have felt like a prisoner. In a more honest opinion, she would have felt like Rapunzel stuck in a tower with a witch who she taught was her mother.

When I started learning about the intricacies of childhood through the Montessori course, I was shocked at many revelations about my parenting. I realized I never gave her time to respond, never actually listened to her, or spent time in a meaningful way.

Overall, I felt like a failure. I was guilty that I had wasted a year thinking I was doing my best with her. While I was actually making her feel bitter and inadequate.

Slow Steps to Independence

I have to agree that she demanded her independence from me. As a mother, I was holding her too tight, gave her little space to breathe. After she turned 3, she slowly started speaking her mind. I always insisted that she talk freely with me.

When she opened up, I would go nuts. I couldn’t resist anything at all. She wasn’t the picture perfect daughter I expected her to be. She didn’t clean up the mess after she made it. Hardly did she clean her plate or gained weight as I expected.

It was during my Montessori course, I realized that it was not her who was imperfect, it was me. I couldn’t resist anything about her growing up. I was tuned to bring up a perfect child. What the heck was I even thinking?

We are all imperfect in many ways and that’s totally alright. If I don’t teach her to love herself just the way she is, I figured there’s just not going to be anyone who is ever going to do that for her.

Finally, over my 9 month course I have unlearned a lot about parenting, relearned a lot about childhood. In all the 4 years that I spent with my daughter, my best days have always been when I have read anything related to children.

For the last 9 months, I have read every single day something about growing up. I have learned about early years, about positive discipline, about how a child grows in the womb. How they adjust after coming into this world? How much changes the child goes through before understanding the world.

Unlearning and Relearning

I felt guilty at first about my behaviour. After crying for a while, I realized there is no need to play the blame game. Instead of playing the victim game all over again, I decided for myself, it was best to take a step forward.

For the first time in a long time, I truly apologized to her.

It was a heart-warming experience. When I called her, she came to me and sat on my lap. Maybe she guessed that something had changed within me. When I sat to apologize to my daughter about many things, I realized it was very much needed.

While I shared an apology, she just cried because I cried.

I often listen to a song that goes like this:

Kuzanthaiyum deivamum
Gunathaal ondru
Kuttrangalai maranthu vidum
Manathaal ondru

God and children
are the same by nature,
Since they forget the mistakes
with all their heart.

How I learned to Apologize

We always teach a child to apologize immediately after they do something that’s not acceptable by our terms. I have done that. Either she murmurs a Sorry or just walks away. Both used to annoy me. When I read articles about Positive Discipline, I started narrating my feelings to her.

Wooden scrabble words that form Say Sorry for the blogpost Parenting 101: Learning to Apologize for One Happy Amma

Image Courtesy: Unsplash

For once, I never started about what she had done, right or wrong, good or bad. Just nothing, I figured it was never about her. It was all about my emotions, my pressures and my frustrations. I was just pushing it on her actions.

The moment I started taking responsibility for my actions, I just got a lot better at parenting. Earlier, I used to raise my voice and tell her to ask sorry immediately. Make her repent for her actions. Dramatic, I know.

The other day my daughter emptied the powder in the room in just a few moments while I was in the bathroom. When I came back, I couldn’t be more surprised at what she had done. I just expressed my disappointment and walked away without saying anything else.

Within a few moments, she suggested that she’d help me clean it all. I nodded and gave her a big sponge, but since that was a whole floor of powder, it only spread more. I was appreciative of the help she offered since she really stood there and helped me.

Later, I just complained that it is all difficult to clean and it requires a lot of time. That’s all we ever talked about it. I cleaned everything later that evening.

There are many incidents of spillage and it is normal now. I have come to the point where I have placed one cloth to help clean the spillage in every room.

How to apologize

After 3 days or so, while we were colouring, she held my hand and said she was sorry for scattering the powder everywhere. Honestly, my heart was jumping with joy. I held her and thanked her for understanding.

I remember a similar incident when she was around 2 and something. Though at that time, I caught her on time and asked her to give me the box and she obliged. I really thought I achieved something, but only to realize that what must happen, happens. Now, when it happened, both of us have learned something in it.

Apologies are given only when someone truly means it. It is not supposed to be said just because someone asks them to say it or when they don’t truly mean it.

When it comes to taking things personally, well, like my husband says, someone is always going to be offended or disturbed by what we do or what we say. All we can learn for ourselves and teach our kid is to stay true to self.

Above everything, to be calm, kind and solve any kind of problem in a polite and respectable manner. On learning our mistake and understanding it, we must never feel ashamed to apologize.

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