The other day my daughter and I were walking in the lobby of my mom's apartment building, when an older woman holding a tiny dog came barrelling past and knocked into my kid's left arm, catapulting her backwards.
"Excuse YOU," the woman barked as she continued marching forward.
"S-sorry!" my daughter quietly replied as she struggled to regain composure.
Cut to me, frozen in shock, doing absolutely nothing.
I've replayed this moment over and over in an effort to figure out why I let that woman railroad my daughter and all I could come up with was this: From the time we are old enough to speak, we are taught to say I'm sorry for things we're not really at fault for, things we shouldn't actually be sorry about. Like saying no to plans. Or asking lots of questions. Or being obnoxiously bumped into by a woman on a mission.
This collective knee-jerk need to apologize has to got stop. Which is why every mom of a daughter should take a minute to read Toni Hammer's bada$s letter to her own little girl, that features a pretty empowering message about all the soul-crushing stuff she simply shouldn't do.
"Don't apologize when someone else bumps into you," Hammer writes. "Don't say 'sorry to be such a pain.' You're not a pain. You're a person with thoughts and feelings who deserves respect. Don't make up reasons as to why you can't go out with a guy you don't wanna go out with. You don't owe anyone an explanation."
"Don't overthink what you eat in front of people," she continues. "If you're hungry, eat, and eat what you want. If you want pizza, don't get a salad just because other people are around. Order the damn pizza."
Yessss. Just order the damn pizza, girl! This is something I've only stopped struggling with recently, which I why I think Hammer's list of don'ts—which also includes things like "Don't hold back your tears," "Don't smile because someone told you to," and "Don't be afraid to laugh at your own jokes"—should probably be required reading for all of us mamas, too.
"Don't say 'yes' to be polite," Hammer instructs. "Say 'no' because it's your life. Don't hide your opinions. Speak up and speak loudly. You should be heard. Don't apologize for being who you are. Be brave and bold and beautiful. Be unapologetically you."
Powerful words for all of us to live by.
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