Why is it so hard to say sorry to the people who matter the most? Like hubby, like children, like mum or mother in law? Why is it even harder to ask for their forgiveness!
The first time someone asked me for forgiveness, I was struck by their humbleness, their honesty, their genuineness. It wasn’t like accidentally bumping someone in the supermarket and saying, “Oh sorry!”, or forgetting an extra nappy at childcare and covering it up with a ‘sorry’.
Seeking forgiveness is an ultimate act. It’s quite overwhelming. That person has thought about their actions and wants to literally ‘give’ back love to you. Yet asking our loved ones to forgive us can be really, really hard. Take the iceberg lettuce incident. It started like this…
I’m on a diet… and after much determination it’s working, 100 grams by 100 grams. That makes me happy because I’m achieving. When you’re a busy mum and the gym is a long forgotten mirage, every ‘tub of margarine” you lose is cause for a party! (with cucumber and carrot crudites).
It was hubby’s turn to cook dinner. I thank God for this twice weekly arrangement as while he cooks, I can concentrate on the more important things in life like… scrubbing the toilets or rescuing mouldy apple cores from behind the couch. These little ten minute jobs bring ultimate satisfaction. I gave hubby the drill about the whole weightloss thing… oil spray, less carbs, loads of salad, white meat protein, some veges, herbs from the garden and small portions. Please. He nodded, and hit the pantry.
Thirty minutes and two gleaming dunnies later I was starving, and really looking forward to food. Before me, hubby placed a massive plate of white pasta with lumps of sausage in a creamy sauce. I couldn’t believe it. Tears of disappointment welled in my eyes. For seven weeks I’ve avoided this fodder.. creamy salads, pizzas and ham pastas, fatty sausages dripping with lard. I felt utter frustration and didn’t know what to say.
“Where’s the salad?” was the best I could manage. “There’s lettuce in there!” hubby said incredulously, dangling a withered, steaming piece of iceberg on his fork.
He’d added iceberg lettuce to the pasta.
“It said to add spinach leaves but we didn’t have any, so I just used lettuce.” I couldn’t believe it. It had to be the worst dish in the world. It was as if every goal, everything I had been working towards, every cheesecake mouthful I had ignored, was in vain.
I poked around my plate, searching for a skerrick of carrot or maybe a mushroom…. some wholemeal penne. All I found instead was meaty sausage with little bubbles of fat to tempt me with their juicyness.
I tried to say grace but the tears of disappointment, and hunger, started to fall. My sons started sniggering. They were rescuing great globs of lettuce from the rigatoni. My husband saw my tears of frustration. “What’s wrong with it? I tried my best,” he muttered. “I can’t eat this,” I declared in utter frustration and left the table.
Then I spotted the messy kitchen.
The deal is, whoever doesn’t cook, has to clean up. It’s simple. But my husband is creative in the kitchen – bless his heart – and leaves trails of detritus as he moves from fridge to oven to stove to sink.
It was all too much. I headed for my bedroom. “But what’s wrong with it?” hubby yelled after my retreating figure. Eventually, he came in and gave me a hug.
“I just wanted to make you happy,” he said. “I wanted to help you.” “But it’s cream, it’s pasta, it’s sausage – it’s everything I can’t have!” I wailed. “And what’s with the lettuce?”
He was truly stunned with my outburst. “I’m sorry Al,” he said as he left the room. “I just didn’t know. Do you want me to make you a salad?”
I can’t believe how sweet he was… how kind, how forgiving! But I ignored him… all the rest of the night.
The next morning, evidence of that meal was wiped thanks to our trusty labrador who didn’t hesitate over the cooked lettuce. Hubby had even scrubbed the kitchen. But the rift between us as husband and wife still lingered. I just couldn’t bring myself to say sorry… to apologise for my outburst, to explain my frustration and over-reaction. I couldn’t seek forgiveness. And that ate away at me, even more than the guilt of polishing off the Tim Tams or pocketing the Fruit Tingles.
As the day wore on I had time to reflect. I thought rationally about it, I focused on the fact that he hadn’t done it out of spite or to deliberately sabotage my weight loss goal. He’d genuinely tried to provide for his family. It was only a bit of lettuce.
I could have made a toasted tuna sandwich if I was hungry. After all, we were blessed. We had a pantry full of food, a roof over our heads, school just over the back fence, and Christmas lights twinkling on the tree. Me losing weight was a first world problem!
That night I made their favourite, shepherd’s pie (with chicken mince!) “Mmmm, smells great Mum,” hubby tried enthusiastically as I fried the onions. I smiled weakly at him, “Thank you.”
A silence descended between us.. I had to say something. He wanted to move on but the ball was in my court… I had to be the one to break the ice. Eventually I blurted it out, “I’m sorry for cracking it over the pasta.” He smiled and nicked a peeled carrot, “That’s okay”.
But it didn’t seem enough… I needed to say more. I drew a deep breath and asked, “Will you forgive me?” “Of course,” he said, and joked around, “It was only pasta and the dog loved it!”
I felt total relief. “What did the boys eat? I asked. “Two minute noodles. Apparently I can’t cook sausages either.” I gave him a hug as I laughed and laughed and laughed.
I’d taken the first step. It felt good to be forgiven.