“Sorry, Mommy!” These words slip so effortlessly from my tiny two year old’s mouth, but every time I hear them, I cringe. Now, do not panic: I understand that I need to teach my daughter right from wrong, to be mindful of others’ feelings, and how her actions affect others. However, at two, she is just mimicking what others are doing around her. There are times when she apologizes in the correct context, but lately I find her apologizing for any mistake she makes – and it bothers me!
I find myself wondering: how often do I murmur this same phrase throughout a day? Do I apologize for unnecessary things as well? As she grows, I want her to be empathetic and realize that her actions have consequences. I want her to understand that being apologetic is more than just two words and that actions can sometimes speak louder than words. Nevertheless, there are several things I do not want my daughter apologizing for, and I am very unapologetic about them.
Do not apologize for taking a risk and failing.
Part of learning is failing. You are going to take risks for the rest of your life, and not all of them are going to turn out as you hoped. Right now, your risks are small: balancing on the beam, playing with new friends, figuring out a puzzle. But later, they will be greater. I want you to dive in with unwavering confidence while knowing that sometimes it may take multiple tries. Look for the lesson in each attempt, and do not be afraid to change your course. Your mistakes will make you stronger as long as you are willing to admit them and learn from them. Don’t apologize for failing; show the world how you come back stronger.
Never feel sorry for how you feel.
Throughout your life, you will encounter a whirlwind of emotions. I want you to experience all of them, from anger and frustration to joy and triumph. You should not have to apologize for when you feel lonely, embarrassed, or uncomfortable. These emotions are your own, and you are allowed to feel that way. I will do my best to teach you how to manage these feelings, to communicate how you feel, and to navigate them so that you do not hurt others or yourself. That being said, feel what you feel, my dear, and be sure to tell others how they make you feel.
Finally, do not apologize for who you are.
I love watching you grow each day. I am in constant awe of how much you learn and understand. You are spunky and adventurous. You love to try new things and observe the world. I hope that you hold onto your fearless spirit and find happiness in what you do. However, do not apologize for who you are. Remember to be true to yourself and do not change to please others. I want you to love yourself as much as I do. I will do my best each day to teach you to be strong, but remember, my love: be proud of you.
My sweet girl: take risks, embrace emotions, love who you are, and do not be afraid of being unapologetic.