Especially when you spend the day pushing around an empty stroller, you will constantly apologize that it’s empty. You will tell people not to hold doors open or help in any way because you don’t deserve such things given that your child is not with you. You will feel obliged to repeat that the stroller is empty upon walking into a room or running into someone or looking away from what’s in front of you. And yet, you will continue to look for your child everywhere. In every room. In every person. Around all sides of you.
You will feel guilty at just how much easier it is to fill the stroller with your shoulder bag and dirty clothes and empty coffee cups. At how light your shoulders feel. How upright your back can stretch. How quickly your feet can move without stopping to pick up a dropped toy or shoe or to pull out a snack or another snack or a different snack because the 10,000 you’ve tried were not the right ones. Guilt at just how smoothly the wheels turn with the flip of a wrist. And how quiet it is going over every bump or past a playground and especially when walking by an ice cream shop. You will feel guilty at the quiet. And apologize for it.
You will find yourself talking to the stroller to fill the space, and most of those words will begin with sorry. “Sorry it’s about to get bumpy. Sorry we aren’t stopping. Sorry we aren’t there yet. Sorry you aren’t there at all.” You will expect a response. You will wait for one. And when nothing comes, you will text his teacher and apologize for asking about him. Apologize if he’s been having a bad day because the morning was so rough. “Sorry to bother you,” you’ll say. Sorry for your motherhood and your child’s toddlerhood. You are far too sorry for far too much. And you know it. You are sorry for things that require no apology. And you know that too. But it’s far too easy to forget. Far too easy and innate for you to keep saying say “sorry.”
But “sorry” comes from Old English sarig “distressed, grieved, full of sorrow.” And sorry comes from Proto-Germanic *sairiga- “painful.” And “sorry,” from *sairaz “pain” (physical and mental); related to *saira- “suffering, sick, ill.” And this is NOT you, Mama! You are not sorry for your motherhood. You are grateful for it. So try saying that instead. And a friend tells you that in therapy, that’s what they teach too. They tell you to say thank you instead of sorry. They tell you to be grateful for instead of sorry about. “Thank you for helping” rather than “Sorry to bother.” “Thank you for being” rather than “Sorry to be.”
So you are going to try to stop apologizing. No, sorry. No! You are going to stop apologizing. No try’s and no sorry’s about it. Because apology, comes from “defense, justification” and you have nothing to defend or justify. Because apology comes from apo “away from” + logos “speech.” So you are going to move “away from” being sorry for who you are as a mother and what you do or don’t do when you have your son with you or when he is away from you. You are going to stop speaking it. Stop apologizing for your stroller’s emptiness and your hand’s fullness. So the next time your mouth moves to form that “sawwwww” sound, you will fight against your lips. You will say the word “star” or “soar” or “sword.” And the next time another woman apologizes to you, you will tell her she has nothing to be sorry for. And you won’t be sorry for telling her this. You will both be grateful.