“Babe, I’m sorry that I have to work this weekend.”
“Punkin, I’m sorry that I had to leave before you woke up.”
These are statements that I found myself saying more than a few times in the past year. My job is busy; hours are constantly changing; and nights and weekends come with the territory. So I felt like I had to apologize for not being where I thought I should be, or where I thought that they thought I should be. I was experiencing “mom guilt” and “wife guilt”. I know it might sound strange, but my reality is that as progressive and modern my thinking is in some areas of my life, I still battle with some traditional thoughts regarding marriage and parenthood. I always felt strongly that my roles as a wife and mother included the unspoken rules of “my presence is required at every performance” and “my weekend time is family time”. But the reality is, there has to be some flexibility in those rules for me to be successful in my job, in my house, and with myself.
Saturday morning at 7am as I was getting ready to go to a work event; it hit me… stop apologizing! Yes, it does suck to leave before your kids wake up, especially when you know it’s going to be more than a couple of hours. Yes, it does suck to pause cuddle time with your husband because your alarm clock is going off. Why am I apologizing and I wasn’t doing anything wrong? I didn’t have a reason to apologize. The work that I do is meaningful and important, brings value to so many people and also doesn’t have traditional M-F 8am-5pm hours. And that’s okay.
I had to remind myself that this was just one day. That working this day did not erase all the other days that I was there. And the few times that I couldn’t go, my family “the village” all showed up in my place (which is actually in “their” place). Because in some ways, them showing up was better than me showing up. I want my children to value the memories they make with all members of our family, not just me, so I have to share these opportunities with them. As women/mothers/wives we tend to adopt the idea that we have to do “the most” and then have the nerve to feel guilty when we can’t. The funny part is that we have also adopted the “sorry not sorry” attitude towards anything that gets in the way of our self care routine. But what if we include not apologizing for things that don’t need to be apologized for as part of our self care too?
My husband, who is probably like most men, generally doesn’t have this problem. If he has to work late or on the weekend or even travel with the swim team, he just goes. No apologies. No feelings of guilt. He just goes and does what is required of him professionally. If I am honest with myself, (full transparent moment here) I used to say things to him attempting to make him feel guilty so that he would apologize for “leaving his family behind”. I wanted him to say, “Babe, I’m sorry for leaving you with the kids all day. But I promise I’ll make it up to you,” and then actually make it up to me! Some recommended make up suggestions would be breakfast in bed, uninterrupted sleep, or getting the kids ready for church without my help. These are just a few things on the short list. But I digress. While I can acknowledge this behavior, I can also say with full confidence that I am not yet delivered from it.
I just believe that once I am comfortable with acknowledging that I have professional commitments, then I won’t feel obligated to make apologies. Starting today, my goal is to be more conscious about when I’m saying sorry and if that’s really what I mean. I am challenging myself to stop saying it frivolously and only when my intent is to apologize. I have to break the habit. Feel free to hold me accountable! Check in and see how it’s going. I’ll be curious to see if I can consistently make this change. Take the challenge with me. Let’s veto the word sorry together.