Mama, can you hold me? Her cheeks are wet.
Yes. But I'm still upset. She sits on my lap. I don't feel like wrapping my arms around her.
After awhile, she goes downstairs to read bedtime books with Claire and Daddy. I'm still sitting on the floor. Staring out the window into the darkness of 7 o'clock. Feeling it inside my chest, a black shadow that blankets my guts.
Why exactly am I so upset with her?
Because she's 3? Acting like a 3-year-old? Great reason. Nice. Way to be the adult.
I follow her downstairs and ask if I can hold her for a minute. She's a lot less rigid than I am.
I'm sorry I got mad at you. Will you forgive me?
She doesn't say anything right away.
What's forgive, Mama?
I have to think for a moment. Find words she can understand. Hurdle over the hard parts of admitting I'm wrong.
It's when someone says sorry and you listen to that person say I'm sorry and it makes you feel a little better. Do you feel a little better?
Yes. She doesn't know how to hold a grudge. I wrap my arms around her, thinking about the day 10 years from now when she does. When she holds a grudge and I hold a grudge and its a tug of war over something we won't be able to name later on when she's grown up and has girls of her own.
I explained forgive to her tonight, but I know I'll have to explain it to myself many times before I learn to balance firm and soft, stern and warm, right and not important, words and embraces, I'm upset and I love you.
I'm glad I still have time to learn.