Mom talk: Three Words I Wish I Hadn’t Said

Oct 23, 2019

The words came out of my mouth. I heard them in my head before they came out and yet I still couldn’t believe they were rolling off my tongue. They pierced my ears and ripped open my heart as they came out almost in slow motion.

The worst part is that those damaging words came out of my mouth, to my five-year-old little girl TWICE in 24 hours. I am ashamed and embarrassed that those three words would have any place in my heart or head or become actual audible sounds with the power to hurt my precious child.

What did I say? Phew…

“I don’t care.”

My eyes sting and my heart hurts admitting this. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yet I said those words.

The first time was at bedtime after a typical long day and the frustration of managing two kiddos and trying desperately to move them along in the bedtime routine after both were already overly tired and fussy and emotional. I don’t even remember what she said that made me respond with those words. But I do remember my heart sinking as I walked away immediately embarrassed.

The words came again the next morning, as we were t-minus one minute from our departure time to get to school. She said that she didn’t like her shoes. The shoes that are exactly the same as her other pair, only a different color. The same shoes she’s been wearing for weeks that have never bothered her before. And yet, I said it again. “Right now, I don’t care. I need you to put on your shoes so we can go to school.”

The words ate me all morning after that. I know in the grand scheme of life, the things that matter so much to a child pale in comparison to the “real” problems of the world. But I can’t expect a five-year-old to understand the world with such perspective. I struggle to understand all that goes on in the world and I have thirty more years of experience than she does.

I believe our most important job as parents is to make sure our children know they are loved. To make them feel secure. And by uttering those ugly words “I don’t care”…oh boy did I do the opposite. I told my daughter not to come to me with her problems. I told her she was alone. I told her that one of the two people she should always be able to count on, doesn’t want to be bothered by her problems.

And if she thinks she can’t come to me, to whom will she turn? This is an especially frightening thought for the years ahead already knowing how much influence friends can have on each other.

So, I surprised her at school with lunch. I apologized to her for what I said. I told her that those words were not true and that I care very much about her. I told her that just like she gets tired and fussy at the end of the day, sometimes mommies and daddies do too. And that in those times, we may say things that we don’t really mean. I reminded her that as her parents, we will always be here for her, will always love her and will try our hardest to do what is best and right, but that we aren’t perfect and we will make mistakes.

We say “I love you” in our house multiple times a day and I am confident my children feel loved and secure. Words are powerful and we must choose our words carefully. Something I’ll be working on harder these next few months especially as we welcome baby #3 into the mix.

Have you said something recently to your child that embarrassed you? Did you apologize or talk to them about it? How did they respond?