Becoming whole through family life. Desserts help.
Picture a temper tantrum complete with yelling, crying, and flailing. Embarrassingly, I’m not talking about my kids, I’m talking about me as a newlywed! The intensity of emotional pain, frustration, and entrapment overwhelmed me like a two-year-old. I left the scene of the argument between me and my husband, hopped into my beat up old car, and blindly headed toward Baltimore, Maryland. We lived in Pennsylvania. We had never hit such a fever pitch of disagreement before. One of the joys of our dating years was that we never argued. We discussed. How sophisticated of us. I presumed we were above arguing and would never, or at least rarely, argue once married. Thinking error number one.
Fast forward past many ineffectual husband and wife arguments and add an actual two-year-old daughter. Watching my mothering peers patiently discuss with their little ones everything from sharing etiquette to the importance of wearing weather appropriate clothing, I followed suit. We discussed. How enlightened of us. I presumed if I explained myself well enough to my intense and articulate child, she would cooperate. Thinking error number two.
The three of us spewed enough arguments, hurt feelings, and mistakes to fill Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field. Saying, “Sorry”, didn’t match the intensity and damage done. While we loved each other, wanted to be respectful, and did many things well, we didn’t have a tool or a plan or a way out of times when intense difference of opinion, emotions, and mistakes collided. Driving to Baltimore isn’t an ideal option.
My husband and I mapped out a plan simple enough for a two year old to learn and thorough enough for stubborn adults to master.
1. Make amends as quickly as possible.
2. Show remorse. Make it real.
3. Take responsibility and say, “I’m sorry (no IF) I ______ .” Describe mistake in detail.
4. Describe how you will make things right. Avoid stopping at “I won’t do it again.” Pay for the broken vase.
5. Ask for, but never demand, forgiveness. Patiently wait.
6. Hug, give a hand shake, smile or find another way to move on positively.
My youngest child has plenty of practice making mistakes. At four years old he dumped an entire bottle of shampoo into his big brother’s fish tank, killing all aquatic residents immediately. Thank Goodness for amends and pet stores nearby.
Gray Stripe Earned: Saying “I’m sorry” is perfect for when I accidentally spill someone’s coffee. Making amends is a big tool for big times.