Public Apologies and Tough Truths

They say that life events occur in threes, and it is my favorite number, so this is my third  (and final) installment of the Galentine/FB event ordeal.

If you missed it, consider yourself lucky and click the red X at the top of the screen.

If you witnessed it, you make the call.

If you were hurt or offended by it, please read on.

At the time that I wrote my Facebook rant last Friday night, I did not know who I was writing about because my daughter did not name any names when she told me what had happened.  Since then one mother has reached out to me – which I respect and appreciate immensely – and we’ve been able to visit in person in hopes of not only moving forward, but taking the effort to become closer and better communicators to one another in the future.

I need to write this last post of closure, though, for three important reasons:

  1.  I caused pain to others, and that is not okay.
  2. Since my rant was very public, so should be my apology.
  3. I discovered some concrete reasons for the exclusions my daughter was experiencing; these are things that can be both explained and changed.

Here we go.

Number 1:  Because I did not know who was excluding my daughter, I did not know who to call to visit with in a personal, less public way.  It hasn’t been a secret that she had not been included in very many pre-event parties, outings, sleepovers, etc; in fact, I asked several moms several times to let us know when things were taking place, that she would love to come along, and that I was happy to help as much in any way possible.  Those “friendly requests” did not help, and I wasn’t sure what else to do to let parents know that, whether intentional or not, this was hurting her.  At the end of the day, it was intentional, AND THAT IS OKAY.  Don’t fly off the handle, go into mama bear mode, or feel indignant here.  Each one of us is perfectly entitled (and I do not use that word often!) to pick and choose whom they want to hang out with, be friends with, go out on dates with, join clubs with, and so on.  There is no rule that every person must love and adore every other person, and it is absolutely okay to NOT want to be friends with someone.  IT IS NOT OKAY TO CAUSE PAIN TO ANYONE.  And I did.  For that I am truly, truly sorry.

Number 2:  We live in a very digital, very graphic, and very public world.  My daughter knew about the whole Galentine Dinner from SnapChat and Instagram posts.  She saw who was there, how much fun they had, and felt a great sadness that she had missed out on that fellowship.  It is not the first time she has discovered a painful fact via social media, and I can guarantee that it will not be the last.  I took my own pain for her situation and all my frustration online, so I want to apologize online as well.  I am a firm believer that we must own up to our actions, that we will make mistakes, and that we are called to take responsibility for those poor choices just as much, if not more than, we are called to share positive, good works.  While I do not actually regret writing that FB post (I absolutely hope that if/when my kids are being less than they should be someone will alert me in any method they feel comfortable using!), I do not like causing hurt to anyone, and again, I am very sorry for that.

Number 3:  I am thankful to my friend who was willing to say the hard things to me.  It is incredibly difficult to tell someone what others find off-putting about them, but it is information I asked for and am glad to now know.  She was able to three main reasons that my daughter has been shunned since moving here last year.  One is hers to own, one is on both of us, and one – the worst one – is all on me.  I’d like an opportunity to explain them…

I want to start with one of my favorite stories.  When my son was beginning 7th grade, a coach asked him about his buddies and best friends.  He listed a group of boys that he hung out with and played sports with, and then he told the coach, “As far as my best friend, well we move around a lot with my dad’s job, so I guess my little sister is my very best friend because she is always there with me.”  The coach was so moved by his response that he emailed me that morning to share such a beautiful and honest reply.  My SonShine is now a 17 year old junior in high school so his school friends and buddies play a bigger role; I am sure that they, along my husband, are who my son confides in the most.  That is how it should be, I think.  Even so, my kids still have a fabulous relationship.  They lean on one another, they support one another, they pick on one another, they act silly together, and when Coach and I are on our deathbeds (in many, many years, I hope), they will turn to one another.  I would not want that any other way.

BUT…it seems that my daughter is hesitant to leave her brother’s side if they are together.    I am sure that is true.  He is a security blanket for her, one that sees it as his job in life to watch out for his baby sister.  Between school schedules, workouts and practices, and community activities, they are not actually together that often, though, so when they are in the same place I can imagine that she sticks pretty close to her Bubba.  I’ve spoken with her about feeling confident to go off with her friends knowing that he is not far away and enjoying his own friends, too.  Hopefully, she will make that adjustment and others will notice her efforts, resulting in them wanting to get to know her for who she is, not simply as his little sister.

So, reason #1 that my daughter wasn’t very well received was that she clung to her brother too much.  That one is hers to fix.  Reason #2 is a fault of hers as well as mine it seems:  we talk too much about where we’ve been before.  That’s a tricky one.  I lived 40 of my 41 years in Texas.  Most every memory, experience, high, low, good day, bad day, joy, and disappointment happened there.  My kids are in the same boat.  Our stories from the past do not take anything away from our present nor the future.  Tulsa has been incredible, and we absolutely love it here!  I’ve [finally] got our home all set up and unpacked and decorated, the kids are bought in and in love with their school, and the University of Tulsa has been a phenomenal fit for Coach’s first head coaching job.  It’s kind of like having a second child…you can love both without taking anything away from the other.  We can treasure Texas and adore Oklahoma all at the same time, AND WE DO!!  I’ve spoken with my Angel Girl about this concern of talking about the past, and again, we both agreed that there is probably a lot of truth in it.  But if we should not speak about our experiences, our old schools, our long-distance friends, our accomplishments, our struggles, our successes, our defeats, the good, the bad, and the ugly of our lives, what should we talk about?  What do we have to offer a conversation?  After this discussion, my daughter said, “Maybe I should’t mention Texas or China Spring or the schools I’ve been to or my old cheer squads or our church in Waco or how I’ve seen things work in other places? So what do I talk about with people?”  My sad response was, “Maybe nothing?  Maybe you just have to be a cheerful listener for a while.”  That broke my heart to tell her, but it’s kinda’ true.  So reason #2 is an easy fix and one she and I both will be addressing from now on.

Reason #3 is one of those Tough Truths that we know about ourselves, hope people will love us in spite of, and pray to overcome.  I come from a long line of brilliant, beautiful, caring, smart, savvy, and critical women.  I’ve said it in many other blog posts: I struggle with saying “Great Job!” when something was not all that great.  It comes off as terribly negative, and I really dislike that about myself.  I try so hard not to be me!  I really, really focus on finding something encouraging to say, I work diligently to hide expressions of dismay (Sadly, I do NOT have a good poker face at all!), and I tell myself not to speak out loud over and over and over again.  What’s worse is that when I see something that is less that great, I want to rally the troops, form an army, make improvements, be a catalyst for change, and create a better situation.  Unfortunately, my tactics must be totally awful because in the end I just seem to alienate those I was trying to rally.  This is recurring occurrence, and it appears that I’ve done it again. But this time it has caused a lot of hurt for my precious girl.  I will not deny that I was less than impressed with one of her activities last fall.  I was so desperate to find a friend with whom I could commiserate that I am sure I complained about this activity to anyone who was within earshot, regardless that they did not want to hear, did not want to be engulfed in my negativity, nor join in my army.  I quickly became seen as The Complaining Mom, and the end result is that when the moms I was “venting to” felt the need to distance themselves from me, their daughters distanced themselves from my daughter, too.  This was brought to my attention early last fall, and I immediately apologized to the entire group involved with the activity, and I took a huge step back.  I sat in my car during practices so that I would not be seen, I sat with family or alone at ballgames so no one would feel embarrassed that I sat with them, and I did not utter anything besides positive praises out loud.  It was too little too late, though.  The damage was already done.  I am so sad about that.  We want to make our kids’ lives better not worse.  I especially want to be a servant and a light for others.  I guess I just don’t do a terrific job of turning those dreams into realities.  So, as I said above, the third reason is all my own doing and something that my Angel Girl now has to pay for…oh, the sins of the father.  I am so, so sorry to have done this to her!

The silver lining is that if the people here never feel drawn to get to know us beyond these faults, when you’re married to a college football coach, everything is temporary.  He will win too few or too many, and we will have another opportunity to meet and move into a new community.  These experiences will help us in that time of transition when it comes, and if that is why we were meant to go through them, then their purpose has been served.

I hope that time is a long way in the future, and I hope that before then this community of girls and moms will embrace us and forgive us and find value in us.  That closeness I spoke of above ensures that no matter which way the cards fall, our family will always be okay.  We will always have each other, and that is a lot.  It’s a gift!

Again, if I indirectly or unknowingly hurt you or offended you, I am sorry.

I will not bring up Galentine again.  I am sure I will write about parenting, about being a coach’s family, about moving, and about personal struggles.  I love writing.  I’ve always been wordy, but if you’re willing to get past the loquacious loud-mouth, I’m not that horrible a person.  I love deeply, I am loyal and dedicated, and I have a huge desire to make this world a beautiful place.

Thank you for the chance to say sorry, the chance to not make excuses but rather to explain, and the chance to ask for forgiveness.

With love and hugs,

Ashli

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2 thoughts on “Public Apologies and Tough Truths

  1. Here’s your only fault:
    I love deeply, I am loyal and dedicated, and I have a huge desire to make this world a beautiful place.
    Keep on keeping on girl, it will all work out! Love y’all!

    Like

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