Today I said and did many things I regret.
I struggled with some really big feelings, that I found it really hard to deal with, and I took it out on you.
I’m so sorry.
As I lay here beside you, your sleeping face on the pillow beside me, and your arm reaching out to rest on mine, I want to tell you everything I did wrong today, and how sorry I really am.
When we arrived at that new playground, one we’ve never been to before, with climbing frames you’ve never encountered previously and everything unfamiliar, I should not have expected you to just run along and play.
I was selfish.
I was thinking about me, and I so desperately wanted to sit down and chat with the other mums, friends I’ve not seen in ages, something that every other parent there seemed to be capable of, except for me.
It’s something that never seems to happen for me. The two of you keep me on my feet, pacing one to the other, to help you climb, help you get down, help you with a splinter, help you find a footing.
But it was unrealistic of me to expect you, at the tender ages of 4 and 2, to be confident enough to just boldly go off and explore.
I know you both better than that. But at that moment, I forgot. I didn’t get it.
Then, when you did need me to do all those things, I was unforgiving. I snapped at you; I chided you; I told you that you were incapable; that this climbing frame is too big for you if you can’t do it yourself; that you’re too small to reach; that you’re not brave enough.
Instead of standing beside you and encouraging you, I put you down.
I’m so sorry.
And I told you to look around at all the other children, and see how none of them had their mummy following them; how they were all trying things out for themselves and climbing up by themselves and solving their own problems.
And you saw them and you cried and you said, “I’m sorry mummy”.
But I still didn’t get it.
I was so caught up in my own selfish desire to go and sit down and be left alone, that I still didn’t get it. I steered you towards the smaller climbing frame, the one you’d already been on and grown tired of. I wish I could have that moment again, and stand with you, and instead of steering you away over there, I’d guide your feet to the footholds, talk you down calmly, show you that you can do it by yourself. And I’d stay there with you while you do it again and again until you told me it was OK to leave you to it.
If I could be there with you again, that’s what I would do.
But I just didn’t get it. I’m so sorry.
And when I left you to it, and you bravely tried to scale that climbing frame one last time, and you got stuck and cried for me again, real tears because you were afraid to move a hand or foot in case you fell, I didn’t come. I was so selfishly annoyed at the thought of rushing over again, that I purposely left you there. It wasn’t for long, but long enough for me to now feel ashamed. You had been trying to be so brave for giving it another go without me; so determined. But I made a conscious choice in that moment, to leave you there crying.
Because I didn’t get it.
I’m so sorry.
When I came and lifted you down, I was angry. But I shouldn’t have been. I’m sorry for that. I’m sorry for any angry words that I said to you in that moment, when what you needed most was a cuddle, to know that you were safe and unconditionally loved. But I couldn’t see past my own frustration at being interrupted again.
I still didn’t get it.
And when you told me that you wanted to go home, but couldn’t tell me why, I snapped at you for being ungrateful and rude.
But you weren’t. And I shouldn’t have said that.
You wanted to go home because everything had become so confusing.
This morning you had been so excited about going; counted down the roads to get there.
But now, nothing was going the way it should have gone. Mummy was being awful. Nobody was helping you. Nobody was supporting or encouraging you, rescuing you, or giving you a push on the swings or roundabout. The things I do without question the rest of the time, suddenly today, I was reluctant, and of course, to you, there was no reasonable explanation. For me, it was a rare opportunity to sit with the other mums I know and talk to them, but I should not have expected you to get that.
You didn’t get it. I didn’t get it.
When you asked me to go home, I shamed you.
Instead of sticking up for you and politely making excuses to leave, I belittled your manners and grace in front of the other mums, telling you that you were being rude and ungrateful. You were not.
I was the one being rude. And selfish. And thoughtless.
I’m so sorry.
And when we reached the car, out of earshot of anybody else, I told you horrible things. I told you that your friend would not want to be friends anymore, because you didn’t want to stay and play. That she wouldn’t ask you to play again. That you were rude for not playing with her.
But those horrible things I said were not true at all.
And I slammed your car door as you were crying, “But I still love her! I’m sorry for being rude!”
I slammed the door because I was letting my anger get on top of me.
Because I still didn’t get it.
I’m so sorry, my love.
I should not have said or done any of those things. I was being so selfish.
It wasn’t until we were halfway home, after we had both had a good cry, that I began to realise how awful I’d been to you.
But even then, the words I spoke to you weren’t coming out the way the way they should have. I told you that I was cross and disappointed because you weren’t enjoying it and that my feelings were all getting too much.
And through your tears you sobbed, “I’m sorry for making you cry mummy!”
Your words hit me and took the wind out of me and I remember gasping.
I should have stopped the car. I should have come round to your side and opened your door and given you a big cuddle right then, and we could have cried in each other’s arms and we could have both made things OK.
But I didn’t, and I don’t know why I didn’t.
I’m so sorry.
You asked me not to tell daddy about all this. You must have felt so terrible because of all the things I’d made you think and feel and believe, all things that weren’t true at all.
Your words sat there in my lap all the way home, weighing me down. You fell asleep, exhausted. I cried as you slept. I could feel your sad words clinging to me all the way.
And as I drove, and I thought about everything that happened today, I began to understand. I began to piece it together, and realised that it had all been about me.
I was finally getting it.
When we got home, I tried to say sorry to you. But when you woke up, you were happy and you ran out in the garden and played. When I said to you, “I’m sorry I made you sad today” you didn’t respond. You talked about something else. I wondered if perhaps you hadn’t heard me, but later when I tried again, you did it again. You changed the subject.
And I finally got it.
I’m so sorry for treating you badly today.
I’m so sorry for saying awful things to you, that made you feel terrible about yourself.
I’m sorry for changing the rules in such a confusing way.
I’m sorry I couldn’t see how selfish I was being.
I’m sorry for taking out my big feelings on you.
I’m so sorry for making you not want to talk to me about it now.
I’m so truly sorry.