It appears that my beautiful bundle of squidginess didn’t get the memo that babies should start to sleep better at night as they get older. People ask if we co-sleep and I’m all ‘no no no, he might come in with us once I’ve fed him and it’s easier to leave him there‘, but really, who am I kidding? That’s just parent speak for ‘yes. Yes he does. He goes to sleep in his cot at 7pm but as soon as we crawl into our own bed he sniffs us out and we’re too deep into this exhausted stupor to move him back to his cot once he’s fallen asleep again.” I’m fast becoming a ninja at sleeping on 1/16th of the bed.
It’s so out of whack that we feel like we have to justify our parenting, particularly to other parents. They ask if Theo’s sleeping through the night yet, and I bow my head in shame and almost apologise to them that he isn’t; almost apologise that after my third baby I should have this whole parenting thing down, yet I’m making rods for my own back left right and centre. This isn’t about whether your baby is sleeping through the night or not. It goes both ways. I’m pretty sure if he was sleeping through and I enjoyed night after night of uninterrupted blissful slumber I’d probably apologise for that too. At a baby group all eyes were on one mum who admitted that her baby was sleeping through the night but she quickly added that she was sure it was just a phase and that he would no doubt become a nocturnal party animal any day now. When a lovely mama like that feels she has to justify her baby sleeping well we’ve got to start asking ourselves this;
What on earth are we doing to each other?
How have we got to the place as parents, as adults, as humans, that everywhere we turn we feel like we’re doing the wrong thing, that we should apologise for it.
An ‘aunty’ (you know those adults that actually aren’t related to you but you grow up thinking they are?) visited my parents the other week and she received a cold call, presumably about accident claims and after hesitating she responded by saying “I’m sorry I’ve not been in an accident. Yes, sorry, no accident. Okay, goodbye now”.
She apologised for not being in a car accident. I’ll just let that sink in for a moment.
After the phone call I asked her if she really was sorry that she hadn’t been in an accident and after laughing about it for a while she said she hadn’t realised she had said sorry about it.
It’s like it’s ingrained in us to be sorry. Sorry that we’re having a better time of it than someone else. Sorry that we haven’t got it quite together. Sometimes sorry for just being.
Man alive, I even recently muttered a stumbled apology when someone noticed I’d lost weight. This whole weight loss – it was always less about ‘skinny’ and so much more about ‘strength’ for me. In a year that I suffered kidney stones, problems with my gall bladder and a labour that my body shut down on, I needed to make peace with this shell I reside in. I needed to start to treat this body with a bit more respect and be mindful how I was fuelling it. And I did. I’m proud of myself for finding self discipline that has long been hiding in the murky shadows of my love for fresh donuts and cream cakes. I did well. I’m not even a little bit sorry about it. But sometimes it’s an instant reflex to apologise and explain yourself and I don’t know why we just run with that. It’s not okay.
Come on, you know you’ve done it too. Someone has complimented you on an outfit and you awkwardly justify buying it because it had been in the sale? Someone confides in you that they can’t afford to take their family on a holiday this year and you inwardly groan in guilt over the magical memories you were fortunate enough to make with your own tribe? Someone raises their eyebrows in a coffee shop when your baby starts to cry and you trip over your words in apology, even though you know your baby is in pain and not being ‘naughty’, neither of you have slept in a week and you’re pretty sure you still have baby sick in your hair?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not adverse to an appropriate apology. In fact I am so on board with putting wrongs right that I should be a paid ambassador for the cause. If you make a wrong choice and mess up, then do all you can to fix it. If you use harsh words in anger or hurt someone with selfishness, then be quicker than Usain Bolt to apologise. Be accountable for your mistakes. Simples.
But we need to stop apologising when we find ourselves in circumstances beyond our control. That’s not your fault! We need to quit justifying the good things in our life. Celebrate it!
And for all things good in the world, please please don’t ever be sorry for who you are. There’s only one of you in the whole entire universe; don’t short change the world of all you’ve got to give. Be you with everything you’ve got. With your head held high.