I know I’ve told this story before, but when Maggie was little, Kim came home one night to find Maggie sitting at the top of the stairs.
“What happened,” Kim asked me.
“She’s in time out,” I said.
“Shouldn’t she be in bed?” Kim asked.
“Yeah, as soon as she apologizes.”
Kim went up to talk to Maggie and then came back downstairs.
I looked up. Kim was laughing.
“What?” I asked.
“She says you told her she could get out of time out when she apologizes,” Kim said.
“That was part of it,” I said.
“I know,” Kim said, “Maggie says she can tell you she’s sorry – but she can’t mean it.”
With Kim’s help, Maggie and I worked things out.
I’ve noticed lately that I say “I’m sorry” a lot.
I mean it, but it isn’t always the right thing to say.
Sometimes I say “I’m sorry” when someone shares a story and I mean to say that I’m sorry for what they’re going through.
I am sorry for them but I’m not sure that that’s the best response. “I’m sorry” is more about me than it is about them.
Sometimes I say “I’m sorry” when I do something I shouldn’t. Again it is a genuine apology but I’m not sure that it really makes amends.
I’ve been thinking lately that many times when I say “I’m sorry” what I really mean is “thank you”.
It’s odd to conflate those two.
When someone shares a story with me that demonstrates how something I said has resonated with them enough to tell me something painful and personal – I am sorry for them but I’m also grateful that they shared.
I’m not sure yet but the right answer might be “thank you”.