Granted, it’s been a stressful couple of weeks, and I already have to defend my cooking nightly to my youngest. She came wandering into the kitchen as I was scrambling to cook dinner (and oh, P.S., hold the world together).


She innocently (?) said, “Hmm. It smells like coconut?” Now, I know she hates coconut, but she didn’t know I was using coconut flour to cook her favorite meal, chicken tenders. I snapped, “Yeah? Well it is! And if you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it!” (And by snapped, I mean yelled.)


She quietly turned around and went into her room and shut the door. That’s when I knew it. I was going to have to apologize. I opened the door and peeked in and saw her – my almost 14 year old with her favorite blanket wrapped around her neck, laying in bed.


It’s nothing short of momentous, that feeling you get when they place a child in your arms. In my case, a couple of times the person handing me a baby was a nurse, a couple of times it was in a foreign country by a civil affairs officer. Three of my babies were so new they couldn’t walk or talk, two others were full blown children who marched up to me, looked at me with appraising eyes, and gave me a hug as if to give me a chance. It doesn’t really matter how they came to me, I remember thinking, with each one, “I will NEVER hurt you, or allow anyone else to hurt you.”


But it happens: the very same innocent little beings entrusted to my care become the repository of the rage and stress I’m not dealing very well with in my life. It’s like being mad at Donald Trump and taking it out on your kitten. We’re talking ugly stuff, people, and I’m not proud of it.


I get it. We have bad days. Stress closes in and chokes us so much that we lash out at the people we least intend to hurt. It’s not an excuse, but maybe it’s an explanation. And short of a personality transplant, I don’t imagine this is the last time I’ll ever make this mistake.


The important thing is that an apology – a heartfelt apology – teaches our kids about humility and grace, something not seen very often in the world these days. It teaches them that adults can be sucky, but it doesn’t have anything to do with them. They didn’t do anything wrong, their mom is just being an asshole at the moment. It allows them to stop beating themselves up for being horrible and go back to being a kid.


She didn’t leap into my arms with gratitude for my apology. She looked at me out of the corner of her eye and gave me a thumbs up. I slunk back out with my tail between my legs, and breathed a sigh of relief when she came and sat next to me on the couch  a little later to tell me about her day.


Believe me, I’ve resolved this week to take a deep breath before reacting to the people I love. I’m determined to return to my gentleness. But when I mess up, and I know I will, I will say I’m sorry. Then I’ll say it to myself, and be gentle there, too.


Photo by Blaise Vonlanthen on Unsplash