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We accidentally wake up the kids in the middle of the night on a regular basis, putting laundry back in their drawers or checking on them.  Usually they roll over and go back to sleep, but every once in a while, we hit their sleep cycle at the wrong moment and they sit up in bed, wide awake.  This happened last week to the ChickieNob, and she informed us in the morning that she needed to snap at us because she was overtired.

We apologized and she forgave us, but she kept bringing up the fact that she was overtired and it was our fault.  When Josh pointed out that she had already accepted the apology, she said, “I accepted the apology.  That doesn’t mean it de-faults you from what you did.  You still woke me up in the middle of the night.  I’m still tired in the morning.  And it’s still your fault.”

I don’t know why, but I thought about this all day because granting forgiveness doesn’t really let the other person off the hook.  Forgiveness is just acknowledging that you heard them and believe them when they express their regret.  It doesn’t mean, as the ChickieNob stated, they are absolved of blame.  They still committed the action, the end result is exactly the same.  Apologies don’t erase; they just move things forward.

Plus apologies may come before the other person is ready to stop discussing their feelings.  Clearly she was willing to accept our quickly given apology, but she still wanted to vent the rest of her frustrations over the situation.  Just because we were ready to apologize and she was ready to accept that apology didn’t mean that she was also ready to stop feeling whatever she needed to feel about having her sleep interrupted.

I don’t know — it just was sort of a brilliant revelation for me.  Both the fact that apology does not equal absolution on all fronts, just some, and that the timing of an apology doesn’t knock the possibility of more discussion on the subject.  If not, after all, a person could apologize quickly just to get past the discussion part where the real work of acceptance is done.

Plus I liked the word “de-faulted.”  You can’t un-fault yourself, can you?


1 a { 04.12.17 at 8:13 am }

That is fantastic. Way to break it down, Chickienob!

Related:. Once my kid is asleep, I don’t often go back in her room and it drives me insane that my husband does. He frequently wakes her up. Why??? Leave her alone and let her sleep! There’s nothing you need in there that can’t wait until she’s awake!

2 nicoleandmaggie { 04.12.17 at 9:51 am }

Solution: She can put away her own laundry in the future.

3 Cristy { 04.12.17 at 10:41 am }

Hmmm, I have to think about this one more. I do agree that forgiveness doesn’t absolve someone from the wrong, but isn’t it also wrong to continually bring up the past hurt? I’m thinking back to counseling sessions with David and he was very big on not digging up past grievances once they had been resolved. So yes, work towards rebuilding does need to be done. Forgiveness doesn’t absolve that. But I also think it’s a violation of that agreement to continue to bring up the hurt.

4 countingpinklines { 04.12.17 at 12:23 pm }

I like this definition!

5 Alexicographer { 04.12.17 at 12:43 pm }

So … no? In my world once an apology is accepted, that’s it, issue resolved, done. Another fan of not digging up past grievances here.

6 Sharon { 04.12.17 at 12:53 pm }

I see her point. If I felt as she did, though, my response probably would have been “I can’t forgive you yet because I am still tired because of what you did.” (Or hurt, angry, etc., depending on the act for which an apology was offered.)

I, too, like her use of “de-fault.” 😉

7 Jill A. { 04.12.17 at 12:53 pm }

Maybe it is hard for her to think of the apology as meaningful since you do this on a weekly basis? Waking her up I mean. Most apologies come with a way to fix what is wrong and a promise to try not to repeat the wrong behavior. When you do the same thing over and over again, how much weight does your apology hold?

8 Working mom of 2 { 04.12.17 at 4:00 pm }

Interesting. I’ve never understood how people can, for example, forgive the drunk driver who killed their child. I guess I’m not much of a forgiver.

I only go in my kids’ rooms at night if they call for me or I hear coughing or a strange noise or something…I don’t want to risk it. I’m a sleep czar.

9 Lori Lavender Luz { 04.13.17 at 10:01 am }

Makes me think, too. So many layers of forgiveness. I’m really chewing on this topic lately, for big transgressions — forgiving the unforgivable and loving the unlovable.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the families of those killed in the SC church shooting, or the parents of Emily Keyes, killed in the Platte Canyon HS shooting. How does one find such forgiveness? How to work through all those layers?

10 Mary { 04.13.17 at 10:16 am }

We accidentally wake up the kids in the middle of the night on a regular basis, putting laundry back in their drawers or checking on them.

I’m confused by this. Why do you wake the kids up in the middle of the night “on a regular basis”? If someone did this to me, I would be furious at them. Or are you saying that, now that you see how much it bothers them, you’re planning to stop?

Because if that’s what you mean, I think she should give you a chance to make good on your promise not to wake her up any more.

11 Jess { 04.13.17 at 12:51 pm }

I love this so much. I was teaching Touching Spirit Bear before I went on sick leave, and one of the main themes is “Forgiving and forgetting are NOT the same thing.” Which seems against the whole “let it go” thing, but you can forgive someone the act and accept an apology, but still feel the effects of the action. If that makes sense. There are ripple effects. And sometimes an apology needs to come with actions, not just words, to be truly meaningful and accepted. I LOVE the idea of de-faulting. Saying, okay, you feel bad, that’s fine, but you can’t take away the root cause… Chickie Nob is wise beyond her years!
(Hmmm, now I’m thinking about if you can truly say you accept the apology if you bring it up again. I mean, fresh in the moment sure, but if it comes up again tomorrow then maybe the apology wasn’t truly accepted? Food for thought for sure, especially on the meaning and truth of an apology and what it’s supposed to do. Deep stuff!)

12 Justine { 04.13.17 at 5:06 pm }

Brilliant! This is a great way for conflict resolution to happen … maybe she she offer workshops!

13 Charlotte { 04.13.17 at 10:25 pm }

This is tricky. Because what I was always taught was you that once you apologize, it’s supposed to sort of end the situation. BUT the person apologizing should be trying their hardest not to do it again. That if you apologize with the intent of doing hurtful action again, you’re not truly sorry. Apologizing should be a way to learn to change your behavior, or at least want to.
But Chickienob is right…it doesn’t de-fault you by apologizing. She is still allowed to be upset. So yeah…it kind of messes up everything I was taught. But a smart kid you have there, making us adults really think hard about this. In a perfect world, the apology would have been enough. But even I still bring things up that have upset me long after an apology. So yeah…
Also, for me, unless my house is on fire there is no way in hell I would even risk waking up my kids. Maybe it’s from having 2 of them that were really bad sleepers for years, but hell no. Plus, being woken up before you are ready sucks. I don’t like being woken up, so I don’t wake up my kids for anything.

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