Yesterday, I apologized to a few friends for being five minutes late for lunch. I then ranted about being sick and tired of offering apologies. It feels as if, several times a day, I’m contrite about something. Usually I’m late – not very, but never early and rarely on time – and so I greet friends and enemies, generally, with the words, “Sorry I’m late.” On email, my responses usually start out, “Sorry for not getting back to you sooner.” Too often, my tone of voice with the girls about a ‘situation’ isn’t gracious but grating, and so after taking a breath, realizing I don’t always have to be mean, I say, “Sorry I yelled at you.” Perhaps I beep my car horn too quickly, unaware that the person in front of me isn’t moving their car because a very old, blind person in a wheelchair is trying to cross the street in front of them. I hang my head and mouth the words “I’m sorry” and shrink behind the wheel.
I’m sorry, okay?! I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Shoot me. I’m flawed.
But what’s up with being late? Time is quantifiable. Sixty seconds in a minute. Sixty minutes in an hour. I’m old enough to understand how long it takes to get from point A to point B, even in Los Angeles. I know it takes me twenty minutes to shower and dry my hair. I have Sigalert.com to help me understand traffic, yet I believe I can wiggle my nose like Samantha from “Bewitched” and transport myself anywhere, with clean hair, in five minutes. How morosely disturbed do I have to be offering apologies before I change my tune and leave earlier?
Regarding my anger as a mother, how do I remind myself that yelling at my kids, in the grand scheme of things, never moves the story forward? Sure, there are circumstances when repeating the same request calmly four times is enough and so the fifth time is LOUD, but actually shouting at the girls with contempt only serves to create more chaos. Afterwards, I generally feel hungover. How many times do I have to express regret for my actions before they stop listening? Maybe they already have. Like the grown-ups in Charlie Brown: Wah, wah, wah.
Regarding the car horn – I don’t beep much, but I have the same reaction when I get into what should be the fastest line at the grocery store and it turns out to be the slowest (naturally) because the person in front of me is writing a check after they’ve stopped to question the price of the tangerines they just bought that were supposed to be on sale but they’re not because the person picked up the ‘organic’ ones instead of the reduced-price tangerines that give you cancer, and so now the produce guy has to exchange the good tangerines for the cheap ones. Who writes checks?! Okay, that’s not the point.
I think I need more time. I might have to lower my expectations about what I can accomplish in any given day, or at least manage them more efficiently in order to stop apologizing more often than not.
I’m sorry for this post. Sometimes Daily Cup of Jo is just me working out my neuroses. Cheaper than therapy, no traffic to make me late.
Life, Parenting, Wednesday