My toddler spilled coffee on a little girl’s dress at church.
Her brand new, beautiful taffeta, Easter dress that matched her sister’s dress.
In front of her dad.
Who just happens to be the Pastor.
To say I was mortified is an understatement.
I felt truly awful, he hadn’t intended to harm anybody or ruin anyone’s dress. He was just curious about the cup of coffee that had been placed next to him, and knocking it over to see what was inside was obviously the only logical thing to do.
The little girl didn’t even flinch, she giggled as the warm brown liquid pooled around her. A stark contrast to her peach and pink dress.
Of course my two-year-old ran off before the coffee even hit the ground, managing to keep his hand-me-down polo shirt stain free. Phew!
Dad (Pastor)whisked his daughter into the nearby kitchen to clean off the stain before “mommy yelled at them” and I just stood there. Kind of stunned and yet not totally surprised.
I wanted to apologize, I thought about it a lot. But I didn’t. And here’s why:
I’m done apologizing for my kids being kids.
What did you expect to happen when you place a cup of liquid between two squirmy toddlers? That they would leave it alone. HA, yeah right?
I spend my early years of motherhood apologizing for everything my son did.
He kicked a ball and it accidentally hit your kids? I’m sorry.
He threw his crayons down on the floor at the restaurant? I’m sorry.
He spilled something, touched something he wasn’t supposed, got upset, had a tantrum, needed me to stop what I was doing for a snack?
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
I was apologizing away my child’s existence. Never wanting to seem like a bad parent or like I didn’t know what I was doing.
And what was I really apologizing for?
I was apologizing for my kid doing normal kid things. Being too loud in the library, refusing to eat food, accidentally hurting someone’s feelings because he told the truth.
Over time it got old, and quite frankly it became exhausting and a burden that I was no longer willing to carry.
So I stopped. I stopped apologizing.
And Mama, so should you.
Mama, stop apologizing to the people around you for your child being just that – a child.
Mama, stop apologizing for your child being grumpy or needing your attention.
Mama, stop apologizing for your child having a tantrum, refusing to hug someone, getting wiggly in church, calling dinner at your in-laws “gross” or running in the library.
Because what we all need to remember is that our children aren’t doing these things to be mean or rude or difficult.
Our children do these things because they are learning. They are learning manners at the table, they are learning social interactions, they are learning to behave differently inside than outside.
They are learning that if you knock over a cup of coffee it will spill and stain pretty Easter dresses.
And if the people in your life can’t understand what that means, and welcome it with open arms, then they aren’t your people.
Let your kids be kids. Let them make mistakes and expose the world, without feeling the need to express regret for every. little. thing.
Does this mean that I’ll never apologize for anything my kids do? Of course not. But I”m working on apologizing only when I truly have something to apologize for. And I’m teaching my kids the same.
Not when I feel like I need to apologize for my child’s very existence. Because that’s not something I’m willing to apologize for at all.
Mama, stop apologizing.
Disclaimer: this title is a nod to Rachel Hollis’ newest book “Girl, Stop Apologizing” which I’m currently reading as part of my people-pleasing recovery.