Dear Amy,

I can see how disconnected and adrift you are feeling today. You’re unnerved by it, sort of scared, definitely out of sorts. And that’s the reason you’ve been lashing out.

It’s why you yelled at me “Why are you crumbling the biscuit that way! That’s NOT the right way to do it!” when I was preparing my own biscuit for gravy this morning. Your own needs loomed so large to you in that moment that you assumed I was ruining YOUR biscuit.

It’s why you’ve dug in your heels and stubbornly murmured defiant mm-mmm’s about just about everything this morning. Said you weren’t going grocery shopping, you weren’t going to fold laundry, you weren’t going to do anything, and you weren’t going to let me play with you anymore.

I get it. I know what it feels like, when you feel that your need for safe, warm, devoted nurture is a bottomless pit, full of sharp rocks — when you’re feeling so empty that you’re sure no one is good or kind or available. When you’re pretty sure you don’t deserve nurture anyway.

I know you’re not being a jerk on purpose. You’re not being mean out of cold hatred. You’re not being oppositional and defiant as if that were your fundamental essence. You’re not prickly and yucky by empowered authentic choice.

But sweetheart… I have to confess… while I understand what’s going on with you this morning, and I even understand what would help — I have to say that your behavior this morning had an effect on me, too.

My shoulders felt like trying to crawl into my ears. I wanted to shut the door, batten down the hatches, send for reinforcements, build up the walls. I felt almost physically pummeled — or attacked by a crawling insistent army of nasty ants. I kept quiet as much as I could. I expressed as much compassion as I could. I mirrored what I saw, telling you it seemed you felt you weren’t being taken care of enough. You latched onto that, of course — it was a possibility for connection, a resonance — and I wasn’t able to follow through. By the time you and Daddy were ready to leave for the store, I couldn’t keep myself from saying something really mean to you about how I was feeling about your behavior.

I wish I had been able to hold you and gently help you get out a big cry. Or to sweep you up for a romp around the house and get you laughing and feeling connected again. I didn’t feel strong and secure enough. I’m really sorry. I had a good loud cry myself after you two left. Maybe we’ll have another chance later today — maybe I’ll be ready and able then.


4 thoughts on “apology

    • Thank you. I am grateful for awareness and reflection, even though it doesn’t often translate to wiser behavior in the moment. (Don’t ask how the rest of that day went. Or how I behaved when my shelf-hanging project was getting frustrating.) I have to recognize that I am also subject to being off-track, out of wise mind, caught up in emotional mind or rational mind instead, and treat myself with compassion and respect as well. Pretty much from the beginning I’ve wanted to parent with compassion and respect above all — and that’s sent me on quite a journey of reading and reflecting and discussing various parenting approaches and ideas. I think the latest resource has been especially valuable — http://handinhandparenting.org — as I’ve been seeing some good fruit in me, in her, and in our relationship.

      • I wonder why God had you work so hard to learn how to parent. Maybe you will write a book sometime. I read three books, then gave up once I read “How to Really Love Your Child” or something. I figured I could do what it said. If my kids grow up to be messes, maybe I’ll rue not having been more well read or reflective!

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