When you are followed all day long by a little sponge of a person who absorbs all things and parrots back everything you say, you start to truly hear what you sound like.
Miss P is my parrot.
Sometimes it’s hilarious, like when I was trying to get her to sit down in her highchair and somehow my mother’s words flew from my mouth and out came: “Sit down, like a lady!” (I don’t know. She was wearing a dress, flailing around, and you just can’t plan what you’ll say when shit like this happens and wires connect in your brain.) Now, whenever she wants to sit next to me, or sit anywhere for that matter, she looks up at me and says: “Me sit, like a lady?”
Other times, it’s not so funny when she mimics me. Like when she yells: “NO!” or when she stands on the ottomans in the living room, and yells at herself: “Hey! Get down from there!” (Actually, the fact that she yells at herself and does it anyway is pretty funny, too.)
But lately, she’s been saying a new thing to everyone around her: “I’m sorry!”
This would be a good thing — if it were used in the right context. As in, “I’m sorry mama,” when she intentionally spills her drink all over the floor, or “I’m sorry mama,” when she flushes the toilet for the eighty-seventh time after I told her to stop, or “I’m sorry mama,” after she purposely launches her fork from atop her high chair.
But she never uses it for instances like the above. Instead, the phrase comes out when it makes absolutely no sense. Which, as I’ve come to realize, makes perfect sense, because that is how I use it 90% of the time.
I know I’m not alone here. I’m a spoke in the giant wheel, made up of mostly women, who apologize all freaking day long for things that don’t warrant an apology.
“I’m so sorry, but can I squeeze by you?” is what I say, to the oblivious and inconsiderate lady clogging up the whole aisle at the grocery store.
“I’m sorry to bug you, but I just wanted to check in…” is what I say, to the person I paid three weeks ago who still has not delivered on the service I am owed.
“I’m so sorry!” is what I say, to the furniture delivery guy who bumped our railing and dropped his phone in my house while delivering furniture.
Let’s talk about the lady in the grocery store aisle. Because Mrs. Cloggerson temporarily forgot the earth had inhabitants other than herself, I was stuck in the main aisle — blocking everyone trying to get to the checkout. So I needed to ask her to move, and I did so politely. But did I need to apologize for it? What the heck was I sorry for?
No big deal, I guess – it’s just a figure of speech, right? But as we passed her, my daughter yelled to her: “I sowwy! I sowwy!” and all I could think of, is what am I teaching her?!
These are just a few examples of the constant and unnecessary apologies. I don’t know what the cause of it is — my personal experiences? society’s influence? my nature? a mix of every one of these things? — but one thing is clear: they are DRIVING ME CRAZY. It’s like I’m on autopilot, apologizing for shit that I shouldn’t be sorry for, apologizing for breathing, apologizing for existing. It’s insanity. And I can’t be sorry for it all any longer.
I’m not a rude person. I like to think I have my manners in order and am very respectful and sensitive to the needs of others – close friends, and strangers a like. But while this is, in my eyes, a good trait, it’s probably a factor which contributes to my problem. I hope my daughter takes after me in many ways, but not in this way of the constant “I’m sorry”s. Although, as I’ve learned thus far, we can’t cherry-pick what traits of ours do or don’t rub off on our kids. The only thing we can really do is take an honest look at ourselves, try with whatever energy we have left to lead by example, and hope for the best.
I know this doesn’t only apply to women, and it certainly doesn’t apply to all of us women. But in my experience, we are the bulk of the ones who are on autopilot with the “sorry”s. We trip over our own feet, get in our own way, apologize away our talents and ask forgiveness for THINGS THAT WE DIDN’T EVEN DO.
We’re so worried about offending that we waste our time — and everyone else’s — acting like we don’t belong, like we have no right. What is up with that??! I don’t want my daughter to apologize her brains away, or worse — to not be able to share her gifts with the world because she’s too tripped up on apologizing for possessing them in the first place. And if that’s truly what I want for her, I know I need to hold up the mirror and start with myself.
So, I’m sorry to tell you I will won’t be saying sorry anymore. Actually, I’m not sorry. Sorry I said that.
Shit. See?! This is hard.
To all you ladies living truly living life without apology, I salute you. Matter of fact, I’m hopping on that train with you, so move over, because mama needs a seat. Excuse me while I — ooh — did I bump you? I’m so sorry, I —
— You know what? NO. I’m not sorry. Let me try again: I BELONG ON THIS MOTHERFUCKING TRAIN, and I will apologize for being here NO LONGER. I deserve a seat, just as much as the next passenger. And, even if there are none left for my ass to squeeze into, I will stand here and hold the subway rope hanging on for dear life throughout all of these bumps and turns BECA– USE I DESERVE TO BE HERE just as much as anyone else. AND I DON’T OWE APOLOGIES FOR MY PRESENCE.
I will do my absolute best to be conscious of the “I’m sorry”s that fly out of my mouth from here on in, and pretend that I only have a set number I can use per week. This way, maybe I can save my “sorry”s for when I truly need them – and maybe in turn, my daughter will, too.
So if you see me on that train, I’ll keep my manners, I promise. I won’t be rude about it, and I want to be your friend. But just know that if you get up, I might even claim your chair so I can sit down. Like a lady.