"We are all wanderers on this earth...our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams." ~ Gypsy proverb

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

(Not so)Wordless Wednesday ~ Forgiveness

She wanted to move out yesterday.  After moving most of her favorite things into the hallway outside of her bedroom, she instructed me to sell them. Then, she went to the garage and strapped herself into the car and closed the van door.

I waited. And knowing she couldn't let herself out of the carseat straps by herself, I went to the garage and opened the car door.  My heart was sinking.  If ever I felt like a total failure as a parent it was in that moment.  Obviously I screwed up somewhere and did something to make her feel worse than when we started.  

As I stood there in my garage with my half-naked daughter strapped in the carseat, I said to her "You are still angry."  She said "Yes, I am still angry. No.  I feel sadness, and I feel guilty."

"Guilty for saying the things you said to me?"
"Yes" and her tears began to flow again.  I knew exactly how she was feeling--to have said and done things that I've regretted, to feel so bad about myself that I wished for a new me.  I knew we both played a role in these awful feelings she was having.  But in that moment, there was nothing else I could do but help her sift through them, identify and name them. 

"You know, I have many things I feel guilty and have sadness for, and so does Daddy.  We've done and said a lot of things we wished we never did."
A look of recognition came over her face.  We have talked about these things before.
"Like when you use to yell?"
"Yes.  And even though we can't take those things back, we do have one very special, very powerful thing we can do to help each other."
Her eyes lit up, as if a hint of magic suddenly appeared.
"Forgiveness. It's the one thing we can do to help each other start over and try again."
A deep breath and with a sigh,
"I'm sorry Mom."
"I'm sorry, too."
A hug, a big one, and then with a smile,
"You know you're going to have to help me put all my stuff back in my room."
And now a deep breath and a sigh of relief from me,
"I'd be happy to."

I know where I went wrong.  That has become the easy part as it's always the same thing.  When my own feelings of hurt or anger overpower my sense of rationale, when ego wants to speak louder than humility, that's when I screw up.  Some days I am on it, and other days, I'm not.  That variability I believe, is the human factor, and I can forgive myself for that.  And my ability to forgive myself has been matched with an ability to forgive others.  I don't believe this is a coincidence, at all.

The power of forgiveness, in many ways, is like magic.  The only catch is that we have to allow ourselves to use it, and believe in it with all our hearts.

much love
xx oo

P.S. Joining Wordless Wednesday, Natural Parents Network, 5 minutes for Mom,
Hobo Mama


  1. Great post! I remember wanting to "move out" as a child. You handled that with grace MJ. And I think it's true, as is the same with forgiveness, the more patient you are with yourself, the more capacity you have for patience in others, which is a lesson I'm learning these days.

  2. I too had such feelings when I was a kid..but it was not too often.. really moved out when I went overseas to study when I was 17.

  3. This post made me cry! My daughter and I have a very special relationship, so she feels that I am the one she can lash out at when she's mad at the world (which she can, and does).

    When she is done yelling and screaming and telling me "I hate you Mama!" or "You're the worst Mama ever!" she holds on to me and tells me how sorry she is, and that she really does love me.

    It hurts when our children get so mad at us that they want to leave, but you're so right when you say that forgiveness is like magic.

    Great post! Thanks for stopping by today!

  4. That was such a sweet post. I love your honesty, and respect for M's feelings. I'm glad she decided not to "move out". :) She's so beyond her years.

  5. MJ…this is so beautiful. And creaky-sad-inside, and so very real. I am so glad your daughter stayed.:) I'm so glad you said the things you did. I am so glad you have all that amazing beauty and insight inside you (even if it hides sometimes, as it does for us all, when our ego or anger elbow their way to the front).

    You inspire me. I'm so glad you write what you write, and feel what you feel, and so deeply. THANK YOU. (And I don't mean to shout at you!—it's all I have, to say it bigger)

  6. Beautiful post. My dad used talk about the lessons his father taught him and one of them was to chose your words wisely, because once out, they can't be taken back. Much easier said than done, and I have to always remind myself to slow down and not knee-jerk react when angry... AND it doesn't always work, but I try.

    I think what the honesty and reflection you shared with your daughter was terrific and it sounds like you're doing a great job.

  7. yup, I tried not to cry, but couldn't help it. What a great life lesson. Thanks so much for sharing, I really enjoyed reading.


  8. oh that sounds like such a tough experience. i can understand feeling a failure then.

    i love most that you talk about forgiving yourself.

  9. A really beautiful and interesting post. I think these days just happen, you will both learn from it and move on. And it's always nice to make up with a hug afterwards! x

  10. Maybe burgeoning autonomy naturally moves a reaction of anger to separation at a certain age? It seems to happen to every child at some time. Sounds like you worked it out beautifully! Nice photo.

  11. yes, so beautiful and so true. forgiveness has been something i always come back to in my life. it is a wonderful kind of truth that sets you free. and you're so right about the connection of being able to forgive yourself will help you to forgive others. just the same as you can only love others if you love yourself. be the change you want to see in the world starts with our own relationship with ourselves.

  12. You are SO RIGHT that there are words and actions we can never take back, but we can start NEW whenever we choose. Remembering my mistakes is the best reminder I have to do better.
    It is never too late to make a better relationship.

  13. Oh MJ, these mothering lessons can be so hard! Your daughter is very blessed to have you as a mom.

  14. oh my, me and my daughter can get pretty worked up to. It was encouraging and refreshing to read how you worked this out with her... can you be my mom too? :)

  15. Great post. I hope I can do that one day when my lack of patience gets the better of me (not looking forward to i >_<)

    As for the picture *jealous*! ;D


  16. Goodness...this was wonderful to read. So nice to know we are not alone in this sometimes up sometimes down world of parenting.

  17. Such a beautiful post.
    Sometimes you need to take a step back, and allow the frustration and anger to come out. In the past I have tried to calm the situation quickly, when all I was doing was repressing my child's emotions. Goodness, us mama's do beat ourselves up don't we?

  18. I'm wiping tears away. Thank you for sharing this story. My 4 1/2 year old has already threatened to "not be [my] son anymore". Forgiveness was never a part of my upbringing. No one in my family apologizes - ever. So, it's still a hard thing for me to grasp and try to teach. But, to be sure, there's infinite forgiveness for my boy. I just hope he can learn to share his with me.

  19. The power of forgiveness really is like magic, isn't it? I loved this post - excuse me, I have something in my eye... ;)

    WW: Curriculum Fair Fun with YoYo's

  20. So powerful! What a great post on the power of forgiveness.

  21. Visiting from Natural Parents Network and Momma Jorje!

    Beautiful post, thank you so much for baring yourself here like this. I wish someone had handled me so very sweetly when I tried to run away so many times as a young girl. We worked through it, but I don't think it was ever handled as gracefully as you have handled the situation!

  22. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful moment with all of us.

  23. all I can say is: rock on mama.

  24. Wow this is such a great post!! Really shows the power of forgiveness!!

  25. Absolutely beautiful and so wise. It is amazing what taking a few moments to apologize, listen and be human can bring us closer to our children. Having them see that we make mistakes too makes a big difference.

  26. "ego wants to speak louder than humility" so get this. You wrote some mighty important words here. Coming back to a hug, to inside and together is so important after a disagreement. {hug}

  27. very nice, mama. beautiful and poignant.

  28. I love the way you handled this, MJ. You are beautiful mother!

  29. I had just written a long reply to your post, but my fkasjfklsajdfkl;sda jfkl;saj laptop ate it! I have tried to restore what I wrote, but alas, it's gone.

  30. mj, you have such a beautiful way with words and you write with such openness and vulnerability - you make it easy to relate. it is so hard to find the grace and humility to open your heart to forgive, and to pave the way for others (our children) to be able to forgive. you are so beautiful!

  31. my words fall short of adequately expressing how i feel after reading your post but just know that i'm crying because i recognize this in myself as well as in my mom while i was growing up. this was beautifully written and i want to sincerely thank you for sharing.


“Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
~ George Bernard Shaw