While I was cruising through the television channels this morning, I heard a funny quote from Andy Griffith of ‘Matlock’ fame. When a character apologized to him, he said:
Sorry don’t feed the bulldog!
Now, while the poor use of grammar does make me cringe, I get exactly what he means. Our mother was famous for her fits of anger and rage and then, after the special drink, special pill or special drug kicked in, she would begin her rendition of Connie Francis singing
I’m sorry, so sorry…
This routine got old very quickly. Since Mother’s behavior never changed, you knew her repeated declarations of “sorry” just weren’t sincere. I guess it was her way of begging for just one more chance and for my sister and me to forget all about her domestic terrorism where we (her children) were also her victims. My sister and I knew this was not normal and usually just ignored her. However, sometimes she just would not let it go and you were forced to at least acknowledge her meager attempt to apologize in order to get her to leave you the hell alone.
The truth is that “sorry don’t feed the bulldog”. Sorry is not enough when you have acted like an out of control jackass. And sorry is not enough when, after uttering the word, you then continue with the very same behavior for which you were apologizing. Because Mother thought she could just utter this simple phase and all would be forgiven, she continued her horrific routine of haphazard parenting and abuse.
My sister Abby and I have forgiven Mother many times. We did this for us and not for her. But, we never forgot. Two little girls, one afraid of the big, bad parent and the other with welts on her legs from being hit with a switch for trying to escape the calamity that was Mother. To forget would have been beyond foolish; to remember was an act of self-preservation.
We learned many valuable lessons from being non-parented by Mother. If you must spend time apologizing to your children on a daily basis, and repeat the same behaviors, please seek help. And if you wish to be absolved from your horrible parenting, seek help from a priest.