Today, I apologized to my toddler for my wrongdoing, and her response warmed my heart.

Today, I apologized to my child.

A full-fledged, really contrite acknowledgment of wrongdoing, not just a quick sorry in passing. And I begged for her pardon.

Because I misplaced my keys this morning.

My patience was fraying as I rushed to get two toddlers out the door on time, running on years of poor sleep and bearing the heavyweight of motherhood and LIFE.

I had no grace. No compassion. No tolerance for anything other than what she should have been doing.

We were late (of course), and I could feel the frustration rising in my chest, building with each sassy reply and her complete oblivion to the urgency in my voice.

I heard myself. Over and over again. Being so critical of such a little girl. Correcting every move she made, not with love, but with annoyance.

I prayed I could swallow the words back down as they gushed out of my mouth. I saw myself on the receiving end of such impatience, feeling as though I couldn’t possibly do anything correctly.

I’ve been there. And it’s not a good feeling. Especially coming from the person you love the very most in all the world.

I could feel her carefree, joyful spirit become burdened, taking on some of the weight I was carrying around.

Because without meaning to, I was unloading on her. The weight on my shoulders at that moment was so heavy it threatened to crush me. So, without even realizing it, I started throwing off some of that weight, causing it to land on anyone in my path.

And as she walked to the car with her head hung low, it split my already broken heart wide open.

I knelt down. I pulled her close and I lifted her chin in my hands.

I apologized for my behavior and asked if she could find it in her heart to forgive me.

Because my toddler is a human being, not just a child, I apologized to her.

I apologized to my kid because even the most powerful people make errors.

To show humility and remorse in real time, I apologized to my toddler.

I apologized to my child to demonstrate to her that mommy, like all of us, has flaws, but that bad behavior will not be allowed at any age.

I apologized to my toddler because she deserves respect.

And without batting an eye, she simply said, “It’s OK, momma. I still love you,” and skipped off to the car as if nothing had happened.

My heavy load was suddenly lighter, and my shoulders were suddenly stronger, and my heart was suddenly bigger.

Because I apologized to my toddler, and she showed me the meaning of grace.