Alexander Pope made the above thought famous in his unforgettable couplet, To err is human, to forgive, divine. According to that beacon of reliability – the Internet – the sentiment to err is human is an English translation of a Latin proverb: Errare humanum est – “It is human to err” I hope my children learn not only to be responsible for their junk, but to accept and even embrace their humanity. In other words, when they screw up, I hope they own it. I hope they take responsibility for the consequences of their shortcomings and mistakes, and from them learn empathy and compassion.
I hope they learn to sincerely apologize for actions or words that have hurt people. BUT, I want my children also to learn to dole out their apologies wisely. For a long time, I apologized for everything. I was sorry if dinner was cold when someone was late. I was sorry if someone on the bus stepped on my toe, can you believe that? I was sorry for people being unhappy as if it were my responsibility to make them so. I was sorry for all the crap in the world. Whether this was fall-out from my upbringing or my intense need to make everything alright, I don’t know.
However, not too long ago, I learned that I was carrying a lot of guilt and shame from other people’s crap. At the same time, I learned I needn’t apologize for everything. I learned to discern where an apology was absolutely necessary. I still apologize, but only for my own crap.
Also, I hope my children watch out for people who, in their wily machinatous (I made up that word!) ways, try to push their crap onto their shoulders. There are a lot of people who don’t own their crap and need to dispose of it. I hope my kids refuse to be someone else’s scapegoat. All of us have enough to keep us pretty humble.
Owning our crap is nothing less than owning our humanity. I know, in the past, when I’ve made mistakes, I would wallow in a puddle of self-condemnation. I have learned that my mistakes are no different than many other people’s mistakes. I make mistakes because I am human, just like the other 7 billion people on this planet. It should not separate me from others, but in fact, make me closer to people. I hope my children learn when they embrace their humanity – faults and all – they learn they are no worse or better than anyone else.
Next week: No. 6 To Forgive, Divine…Understanding Forgiveness
About my blog: I am a mom of 10 kids living in Pacifica. The name of my blog, “From the Shoe”, is swiped from Cheaper By The Dozen’s Lillian Gilbreth’s summer newsletter. The “shoe” reference is to the children’s’ nursery rhyme. I mix humor and philosophical musings with everyday events. I hope you like it. From the Shoe artwork by Alec Maloney.