Forgiving A Toddler

Lessons in Parenthood: Week 3

After spending a full day of overhauling parts of our apartment, I was tired. Being 7 months pregnant only amplifies that exhaustion. The additional problem with the cleaning and organizing is that Olivia finds it extremely fun to play with everything I’ve just organized so she tears things apart just as I’ve put them together. At the end of this long day she had made at least a dozen messes and my patience was wearing thin.

Finally, she spilled something on the floor (I honestly can’t remember what it was) and I let out a very tired and irritated, “Nooooooo! Oliviaaaaaa…” to which she hastily said, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry, mami!” And with that she began to do her best with her tiny hands to clean up the mess she had just made.

Maybe it was the sincerity in her little toddler voice. Maybe it was that she tried to right her wrong without me even asking. Maybe it was the hastiness of her apology. Whatever it was, it broke my heart. She was trying so hard and with such a great attitude. It was one of those moments where I felt like I fell in love with my little girl all over again and I also felt like a terrible parent.

One thing I promised myself as a parent is that I would never emotionally manipulate my child. No matter how hard it was, I would never continue to make my child feel crappy after apologies had been made. When she says “sorry” we (I) don’t hold onto it. When we’ve worked through a tough learning lesson, gone through the emotional breakdowns, and resolved it, we hug and move on. It’s over. Now we’re happy again. I don’t ever want her to feel anxious or worry that mami is going to get mad. I want her to feel that I am always on her side. I want her to feel that it’s safe to be vulnerable. I want her to feel that she can make mistakes and that I’m forgiving and understanding.

In all honesty, isn’t this how we all want to be treated? We’re all familiar with the feeling of being punished over and over for one mistake. The most undeserving of this feeling is a small, developing person, trying their best to figure out this world.

Read my post on Medium.