Bedtime last night was less than ideal for me and my two-year-old.
We had gone out for a Monday night treat to get milkshakes as a family which resulted in us getting back later than their normal bedtime. It wasn’t a big deal until I put her in her bed and she promptly popped back up.
I asked her to lay down and she obstinately looked at me and said, “NO!” all while throwing her milk my way.
I took a deep breath and held back my yells (I’m a yeller—I don’t mean to be—I just am.) We were all a little sick in our house and patience was running really, really low as the day went on, so not yelling at this point was actually a small victory.
…I calmly placed her back in her bed despite the screams she gave me in return. I laid her down, tucked her in, said goodnight firmly and walked out and closed the door. Then I took a deep breath and headed to the other room.
But then I heard the door crack open and I heard the little steps behind me.
I turned around and saw her standing in my shadow silently with tears running down her cheeks, but I had no sympathy. I was exhausted and there was zero patience left in the tank.
So, I yelled.
I put her back in her bed, yelled again and slammed the door as I walked out. I watched her on the baby monitor as she sobbed in her bed, she didn’t dare to get out this time.
She was overtired, I knew she was overtired. She didn’t have a nap, we were out later than expected and what she really needed was time to wind down for the day.
I sat on my own bed continuing to watch her and my heart swiftly changed from angry to remorseful. I felt so bad. She really hadn’t done anything wrong (other than throwing her milk at me.) What she had done was given me every indication necessary that she needed some time to be snuggled and rocked and slow down before she went to bed on her own.
So, I went back in.
I knew I was in the wrong and I was sorry and I needed her to know that.
I spent the next 10 minutes rocking my two-year-old baby as my tears fell into her curly hair that was pressed closely to my neck and face.
…and I apologized. I told her I was sorry for not giving her what I knew she needed and I was sorry for losing my patience.
Her only response was to continue to hold me tight because that’s what they do, they hold on tight and love you for all you are—the good, the bad, the ugly. They just want our love and to be assured of it.
I apologize to my children when I’m in the wrong.
I do it because I want them to know that I’m wrong, I’m imperfect and I’m doing my best. I do it, despite how difficult it can be to look at the two toddlers who have made me furious and utter the words I’m sorry along with the explanation they need to hear.
I apologize because they deserve it and I’m better than hanging in the shadows of my mistakes.
…and the good news is, she still loved me this morning when she woke up.
A version of this article was originally published on Latched and Attached.