Why Moms Need to Stop Saying 'I'm Sorry' Now
How many times would you say you apologize in any given week? If you’re like many working moms, the answer is waaaaay too many, and you might be unaware you’re doing it.
When I interviewed working moms around the country for my book I Love Mondays: And Other Confessions from Devoted Working Moms, women listed all sorts of scenarios that left them saying sorry: Not having time to chaperone their child’s class field trip; being unwilling to attend a meeting so they could go to their child’s recital; being unable to track down their child’s last annual physical for the camp nurse. On it goes … and many working moms apologize by default, hoping it will ease the stress.
But here’s the rub: When we apologize repeatedly for things we didn’t do, we send a message to others that we’re to be blamed. Worse, we’re modeling for our kids that we should apologize even when we did nothing wrong. So, here are a few quick ways to reign them in.
Track your sorries
The first step is realizing how much you are actually doing it. If you’re not sure but suspect that you might be on overload, follow the advice of clinical psychologist Janet L. Wolfe, Ph.D. and log your apologies.
For one week, write down each time an “I’m sorry” pops out of your mouth, what led to it and how you were feeling at the time.
Next, try to find out what your patterns are: Do you apologize when you’re nervous? Overtired? Feeling guilty for upsetting someone? Megan, a 38-year-old divorce attorney and mom to a 7-year-old, says, “I realized after paying careful attention that I apologize if I’m rushing and feel like I have to fix things quickly — not because I did something wrong.”
Once you know your trigger, you can slow yourself down in those situations and pay attention to what whether you’re just throwing an apology out of habit or because it’s warranted.
Show compassion without apologizing
OK, you caught yourself on the brink of apologizing but this is your chance to change things. What do you do in the moment where you’re triggered? Suggests parenting expert and therapist Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D., “When you realize you’re on the verge of saying “I’m sorry,” stop and take a deep breath (inhale until that breath reaches your heart before you exhale).