What I Really Meant to Say


Most mornings after I rush out of the house and have ten quiet minutes in the car on the way to work I rerun through my head all the things I meant to say to my kids before I left them for eight hours. These vary depending on the day, how the morning is going and how the evening before went – whether we all ended up a frustrated mess, everyone goes to sleep easily, or there are screaming tantrums about what (uniform shirt!) to wear to school.

The thing is, with kids, nothing ever goes as planned. Everything can be great and I can think Sweet, they’ll go to bed on time, I can have an hour to myself before I make lunches, find dance shoes and clean up dinner, and five seconds later they’re screaming at each other over a Lego and the evening just dissolves from there and suddenly it’s 11 p.m. and I will not be doing anything except throwing myself in bed.

I think the hardest parts of the day are the morning when you’re trying to get out the door, and then evenings when you’re trying to get them to bed. And these are the toughest parts of the day to keep mommy sanity. I’ve notice that often, I just don’t keep it. I yell. I get mad. I am frustrated, I snap. I respond like a grown up to three-year-old logic and make everything worse.

And then 30 minutes later when the house is quiet because they are asleep, or I’ve escaped to my morning commute, everything I said to my kids comes back to haunt me. And a lot of it I regret — things like:

I am sorry I yelled at you to brush your hair.

I am sorry I got tired of waiting for you to try to get the Velcro on your shoes just right and did it for you, even though you hate when I do that.

I am sorry I got frustrated with you when your brother hit you.

I’m sorry I snapped at you when you were still watching TV and we were already late.

I’m sorry I got mad at you for not getting your lunch box after I asked three times.

I’m sorry I forgot your snack because I was too busy wrestling your brother out of his pajamas.

I am sorry I nagged, nagged, nagged to get you out the door and to school on time.

I’m sorry I forgot your yellow school bus monster truck in your cubby.

I’m sorry I freaked out about the bathroom floor being covered with water when you were just pretending to be pirates.

I’m sorry we didn’t get to read your library book this week before it had to go back.

I’m sorry your brother takes most of my attention right when you need help with homework. 

Most days, in the silence of the car on the way to work, or before I turn off the bedside light at night, I think about what I really meant to say to my kids — things like: 

I’m sorry I forgot to tell you how much I liked the picture you made last night with the babysitter when I was out.

I’m sorry I forgot to say Thank you for playing with your brother while Mommy and Daddy got ready for work.

I’m sorry I forgot to mention how proud I was of you for putting your lunch box in your backpack without me having to ask.

I’m sorry I didn’t ask you how your field trip was, the one I completely forgot to pack you a disposal lunch for.

Thank you for getting dressed when I asked.

Thank you for helping your brother wash his hair in the bathtub.

Thank you for reading to your brother so I could make dinner.

Thank you for cleaning up your train tracks the first time I asked.

Thank you for feeding the fish.

Thank you for reminding me to sign your teacher’s note.

Thank you for sharing your Legos even though I know you didn’t want to.

Thank you for giving your sister a piece of your cookie.

Thank you for being gentle with the dog.

Really, does it even take five minutes to take a deep breath and say these things I always think of later?


I’m sorry I always forget that, too.

Dear Kids: What I meant to say —  instead of I’m sorry —  is I love you.

Meg Sacks
Meg is a working mom of four and an avid community volunteer. She has worked in corporate communications and media relations for more than 18 years, for a Fortune 500 company as well as a non-profit. She took some time off to enjoy life as a stay at home mom after the birth of her first child in 2008. Her sweet, introverted daughter, was excited to welcome her baby brother in 2013, and then boy/girl twins joined the family in 2016. Meg finds being an “office mama” a constant balancing act and never-ending challenge but enjoys the opportunities it offers her for personal growth. A Virginia girl at heart, she loves Florida’s warm weather, the great quality of life Jacksonville offers her family.


  1. I love this story, I can so relate! I actually have turned around or ran back into the school and told him that I was sorry and that I loved him, giving him a big hug. It makes us bother feel better and have a better day! I have gone too many days running through the evening and morning events the same way you have on the way to work and feeling guilty! So glad I am not alone and I am working on taking a 3yr old perspective and try to be more patient.

    I just love it when we get home and he says “I want to snuggle with you Mom”……I fight the urge to say no, I have to do my chores and make dinner. We have grilled cheese and apples for dinner and snuggle, I LOVE IT!! And the chores, not surprisingly, are still there waiting for me later that evening after he’s gone to bed or in the morning.


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