Apologies are seductive. Especially for a new mother, who finds her world suddenly spinning beyond her control, apologies are incredibly appealing. The trouble is that a new mother can also find herself always apologizing. Everything is a first, and nothing goes as she expected. Does she blame herself? And should she?
New mothers are barraged with advice. Most of it is useless, and some of it is obnoxious, but occasionally it’s wise.
I was scheduled to have a phone call with our local Jewish Family and Children’s Services representative on what turned out to be Lila’s birth date. When I finally connected with the woman in the weeks following, I apologized for being out of touch. “Don’t apologize,” she told me, “you’re a new mother. Everyone understands.” I was momentarily startled, but realized she was right.
Since May, this has been one of the best mothering pearls of wisdom I’ve heard. It’s important because I’ve lost count of how many times my plans have gone awry; I’ve been tempted to apologize, generally for things that don’t offend other people or aren’t my fault. It’s tough to fight your nature, when your general tendency is to be polite, but that makes this lesson crucial. Not apologizing is a survival skill in the jungle of early motherhood, learning to let go of all that you cannot control (which is most things).
With that, I’d like to introduce a new mother’s update to Passover’s Dayenu. Rather than “It would have been enough,” this is about saying, “It is enough, no more apologies.”
1. When it’s 7pm and I’ve accomplished nothing all day beyond feeding, changing, and naps, because newborns are labor-intensive. I will not apologize.
2. When I am 20 minutes late to a Mommy and Me class or play group because Lila was fussy, or we simply required more time than anticipated to get ready. I will not apologize. Read the rest of this entry →