When I was in High School I was on a puppetry team. We performed at church and at other places like nursing homes, libraries and more. Every year, we would go to a Puppetry Festival where we would go to workshops and even be judged on our skills. (Did you know puppeteers had skills?)
This year, my mom (a Children’s Pastor) is hosting a Puppetry Festival at her church. My brother, his wife and 3 of my best friends and I are helping her by performing one morning of the festival. We had practice last night. At 6:30pm. I live 45 minutes away from where we were practicing. Meaning I needed to leave at 5:45. My husband knew this. But at 5:55, I emailed him (my phone is on its last leg) with no response. At 6:00 I squeezed a call out of my phone. No response. At 6:10 I threw the kids in the car and started driving.
5 minutes later my husband calls and says, “I forgot. I’m on my way.” Yeah, but he was still 20 minutes away at least. So, I decide to meet him and drop off the kids. While I’m driving, Lydia keeps asking me questions. “Where are we going? Are we going to puppet practice? Are we meeting Daddy? What are we doing? Do I get to see Grandmama? What’s wrong? What happened? What are we doing?”
I was already RIDICULOUSLY aggravated because I hate being late. I felt slighted by my husband for not remembering my schedule. And Atlanta traffic at 6:15pm? UGH.
So, I yelled at her. I said, “DO NOT ASK ME ANY MORE QUESTIONS. YOU DO NOT NEED TO KNOW EVERYTHING.” And for the rest of the ride if I would say something else (usually to a passing crazy driver) she’d say, “What?” And I’d snap, “I SAID DO NOT ASK ANY MORE QUESTIONS.”
I knew I’d hurt her feelings. But I was so aggravated inside I didn’t care. I thought: She’s 4. She should really stop asking questions. I told her several times already what was going on. She should just be quiet and go with the flow. I don’t need to apologize to her when she’s the one disobeying me!
But then I remembered this post from Leigh called When Momma Apologizes. I remembered what Leigh said about how apologizing changes our kids’ behavior and the temperature of our home. I knew it wasn’t Lydia’s fault that I was late. It wasn’t her fault her Daddy forgot about me. It wasn’t her fault we were stuck in traffic. It was MY fault that I was aggravated. And MY fault for yelling at her. MY fault for hurting her feelings.
It took me several minutes of self-talk but I finally said, “Lydia. I’m sorry I yelled at you. I’m very very aggravated that I’m so late and we’re stuck in traffic. But I should have never yelled at you. I’m sorry. I love you.”
And what did she do? Did she cry? Sob? Forgive me? Begin a heart-to-heart conversation? Stop whining?
No. She just said, OK.And she was fine. It was over like that.
Apologies are hard–for the one apologizing. But for the one on the receiving end? It’s healing and welcomed.