I apologize. Habitually. When people cut me in line even though I’m standing in the right place. For not having correct change. For having to stop for water on a 10-mile run.
Somehow along the path of a private school education and Southern Baptist upbringing, I adopted a generalized attitude of guilt over everything. I’m in the way. I’m making this harder for someone else. They might be inconvenienced.
In many instances, this guilt can manifest as empathy, selflessness and generosity. All uppers. Go me!
But lately, always maneuvering around other people’s needs has prevented me from recognizing that sometimes I need to be maneuvered around. Frankly, I am in an overwhelming mom-worker-wife-life season, and I am just too tired to keep apologizing for it.
The whining is forthcoming. Pretend there’s no Syria or shutdown or Jenner divorce and play along.
On top of a stupid long list of things that will not be accomplished this century, I lost my wallet this weekend. In addition to 10 p.m. Sunday night calls to cancel credit cards, I had to add a trip to the DMV to my to-do’s. Let’s stop here and share that collective joy that abounds with an impending trip to a government office.
I worked through the morning, and by the time I looked up DMV offices and requirements, I realized the license services were only open for another 30 minutes. Foregoing a shower (shock) and full face license photo makeup, I ran out the door hoping to make it.
The closest office is in a somewhat questionable area, but is also one of the busiest. I’ve made the rounds, I know. After I got my number, I found the chair least likely to attract a chatty fellow license seeker. Strangers are weird and I’m about 80% sure I’m allergic to them. I brought my Kindle and mentally braced to camp out for awhile. The first number I heard was G657. I was G670, and the letters went all the way from A to H. Oy.
Before I even scrolled through my Facebook feed, the loudspeaker shouted, “G-six-seven-zero is now being served at window 19.” I waited until the number flashed on the board and I had triple checked my ticket before walking cautiously up to the counter.
I had it formed, already swirling around on my tongue, about to let it fly out like vomit. I’m sorry.
I’m sorry your machine malfunctioned?
I’m sorry I followed every procedure down to the letter?
I’m sorry other people may be unhappy?
There was nothing to be sorry about. So I decided I wasn’t sorry. I gave the woman my ticket and told her honestly how long I’d been waiting when she asked. She knew there was a mix-up. She also knew it wasn’t my fault. So she asked me the string of questions (No, I am not currently addicted to drugs. No, I do not toss Cheerios into the cup holder of my child’s car seat on the interstate.), snapped my picture and handed me a new license. Less than 10 minutes. No apology necessary.
For one time in what’s been feeling like many, many times of unfavorable adjustments, this was a little break in my favor. At just the right moment, for just the right person.
After the laundry overflowed out of the hamper preventing the closet door from shutting,
after a conference call was 30 minutes late,
after I realized I had no cash or cards to go grocery shopping,
after I spilled half of Addison’s still-raw eggs on the floor,
after she pooped THREE times before 9 a.m. and I had to change her while she sobbed desperately because of the most intense diaper rash ever,
after cramps and hormones beat the reason and sanity out of me like baseball bats,
after an email reminded me I completely forgot about a project with a looming deadline,
after all those normally-I-can-muster-some-perspective-but-not-today moments,
I really didn’t want to be sorry that I was G670. Or go sit back down.
So I cashed in that ”lucky” ticket today. And I think I may take some time to hang on to being G670.
Empty-handed but unapologetic.
Simply asking for what I need.
And saying thank you to all those people who smile and say, “That’s ok, honey. It’s not your fault.”
(Or who bake me cookies or let me cry in their gelato. Thanks for that, too.)