Last year for Yom Kippur I publicly apologized to my now 4-year-old daughter and asked for her forgiveness for a host of things. I asked for forgiveness for yelling, for being absent, for being stubborn, for being impatient, and for the ways I may have hurt my daughter intentionally or unintentionally. I also vowed to think about how my behavior impacts her, to be calmer, more patient, and more present, and to continue to ask for forgiveness when I wrong her.
I am happy to report that I have consciously tried to reduce the amount of yelling I do. Instead, I try to breathe and then have rational conversations when I am angry or disappointed with my daughter. In addition, sometimes I laugh instead of yelling. I recommend it. I have also attempted to let go of anger and move on quickly from the mistakes my daughter makes, and I have come to understand that the process of parenting and disciplining is akin to a marathon. So, I am pacing myself and being patient. I make it a point to explain my absence – when I have to be at work late or attend a professional event. And, I have asked for forgiveness when I’ve yelled or assumed she was in the wrong when she was not.
I am even happier to report that I am pretty confident my daughter has forgiven me. I know this from the kisses she plants on my cheek, and the way she snuggles next to me on the couch, and from those random miraculous moments when for no apparent reason she leans in and whispers to me “I love you, daddy.”
Despite all this progress, there are many ways in which I feel inadequate and flawed, and have felt that I failed to meet the high standards my inner critic has set. And, rather than focusing on the things I do well I sometimes beat myself up internally. So, instead of asking for forgiveness from either of my daughters or my wife or anyone else, I thought I would focus on forgiving myself. Indeed, it has been noted that being too hard on oneself is a sin. And, I am hoping to forgive myself as part of wiping the slate clean for this year. So, in the spirit of this upcoming Yom Kippur, I will do so now.
I forgive myself first for the yelling I have done and remind myself that sometimes we parents yell out of fear.
I forgive myself for not being able to forgive others and displaying hard-heartedness.
I forgive myself for giving up hope for peace in our time.
I forgive myself for judging others harshly.
I forgive myself for failing to wake up extra early to exercise, and for sometimes failing to make my body the priority it should be.
I forgive myself for enjoying complex carbohydrates, sugar, desserts, and coffee.
I forgive myself for craving sleep, for needing naps, for having a limit to my energy.
I forgive myself for procrastinating.
I forgive myself for not writing more.
I forgive myself for not reading more.
I forgive myself for not volunteering more.
I forgive myself for sleeping through my younger daughter crying in the middle of the night.
I forgive myself for not making the freshest highest quality meals for my children.
I forgive myself for being unable to get out of the house in the morning, especially on a weekend morning.
I forgive myself for relying on the television as a babysitter.
I forgive myself for the few dinners, baths, and bedtime routines I have missed.
I forgive myself for not reading to my daughters every night.
I forgive myself for those times when I felt overwhelmed and burdened by my children and my career.
I forgive myself for thinking about money and what others have.
I forgive myself for not believing in myself.
I am forgiving myself because this is the way to move forward. I am forgiving myself because I understand that even as I mold my children I am still a work in progress. I am forgiving myself because I am imperfect. I am forgiving myself because I am ever hopeful that I can make the changes that will lead to my fulfillment and happiness.
I hope that this new year in addition to asking others for forgiveness, and forgiving others, you will all forgive yourselves. And, may you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.