These past few weeks have been madness. I mean, they’ve been a fine, status quo kind of madness, but it’s been pure chaos. I really didn’t have a moment to return lots of texts, schedule appointments, or even call a good friend for her birthday. I had to cancel plans several times because I really had just overscheduled my family. Through it all, even though I realize how benign it all is, I was feeling overwhelmed. I am one person. We are each only a sole individual, and sometimes the pressure that is put on us to be on top of everything is just too much to bear. I am finding myself far too often starting sentences, texts, and phone calls with “I’m so sorry, but . . . ”
I am so tired of saying I’m sorry.
I receive these sentences and texts often, too. Of course it is always from the females in my life, because we seem to be the ones who are always apologizing and expected to be on top of everything relationship-related as it pertains to our familes. The same as my friends and acquaintances say to me, I always answer with, “OMG, don’t worry about it! Honestly! It’s fine,” and that is exactly how I feel. No one owes anyone an apology just because life got hectic and we were just doing our best. Yet we spend our days constantly explaining that we have just been spread too thin and that is why it took a few extra hours, days, or even weeks to return a phone call or schedule dinner plans.
We all know what this is like. How do we stop apologizing and just have a blanket understanding that there is no time limit on genuine relationships, and that failing to get back to someone within 24 or 48 hours isn’t actually an act of failure at all; it’s just life. In our attempt to be successful in other areas, we have to accept that there are only so many hours and we will not get it all done. I want to stop apologizing. I want to just . . . be.
Recently, my daughter was supposed to get two teeth pulled. The day of the procedure she was sick. I called to cancel, and feeling like I had 10 things going on at that moment, I said I would call back to reschedule. Having her teeth pulled was a proactive procedure. They’re going to need to be taken out so the new ones can come in. I realize it needs to get done, but she is not in any pain, and there seems to be nothing happening at this moment to rush it. Since I canceled the appointment, I have received several messages and notices from her dentist’s office stating they are “fearful for her health” and “have tried to contact me several times.” It has been a month, and in that time it was the end of school, my kids all took turns being sick, and life was just swirling all around me while I tried my best to stay outside the eye of the storm and keep it all under control. I so badly want to call my kids’ dental office and say, “Why are you making me feel like an awful mother? I promise I really am just doing my best! Please, don’t make me feel like I have to apologize to a dental office. I do too much apologizing already.”
My best friend in the world lives an hour-and-a-half away. We don’t get to see each other nearly as much as we would like, although we really do try our best. We go though times of sending text messages for a week straight with no reply from the other person, but we never apologize. Instead, if one of us really finally needs to hear back from the other person, we will make statements like “Yo, you alive? Did you drink yourself to death?” or “Were you abducted by aliens? Is Mars everything they say it is?” Then, finally, after a laugh of relief because we can just be understood and not say we’re sorry, we respond with, “I miss you so much. I’m drowning over here.” Then we dive in and save one another. Never guilt. Never resentment. Only unconditional understanding.
Trust me, I am not saying my other relationships fall short because we feel the need to say sorry for delayed responses and canceled plans. My friends are incredible. They really, genuinely are sorry for not being able to be that person who has everything under control at every second. I know we all want to get back to texts more quickly, be able to not cancel dinner plans on Saturday night, and not have to miss a birthday party at the last minute because we really are just beyond exhausted. Oftentimes, I find myself spending far too much time making sure everyone knows how overwhelmed I am so I won’t feel guilt for whatever plans or appointments I mess up or forget.
If we counted in one day how many times we apologize in some form, I think we would be astounded. It’s not fair. I want to save my sorrys for when I do truly screw up—for a time when I scream at my kids not because they’re doing something wrong, but because I’m in a bad mood. I want to save apologies for when my husband and I get into an awful fight and down deep I know I overreacted and took it too far. I want them to matter.
On the flip side, I want the people in my life to know that inherently, I get it. Please don’t waste your time explaining to me, because you are already forgiven. Instead, let’s all just throw one another a floatation device by just continuing life without the interruption of apologies. Let’s say “I know, I get it. I’m here whether it’s 24 hours or a week later.” Sometimes it’s necessary to admit when we’ve messed up, and other times, we’re forced to feel like we need to make something minor into a big deal, just to ease our unnecessary guilt. Stop exhausting yourself. Stop apologizing. I’m going to work towards this. If I’m late or absent, wait for me. I promise I’ll get to you eventually. And I’ll be here waiting for you, cause I get it. No apologies necessary.
Originally published on the author’s blog