Today I dropped my youngest off at preschool. As I left, I had this plunging feeling in the pit of my stomach. It's a feeling with which I am very familiar. Guilt. As I was driving home to work, I had the thought that of all the human emotions, I think I can honestly say I predominantly feel guilt. Not happiness or sadness or anger.
I feel guilty when I have to work and my kids want my attention. I feel guilty when I'm playing with my kids and not getting more work done to help pay our bills. I feel guilty that I am struggling so much to lose the weight that I know needs to get gone. And I feel even worse that my kids are picking up my eating habits. Much to my chagrin I feel guilty when I drop them at the gym playroom so I can work out with my trainer. Then I spend the first half hour after they go to bed feeling like I didn't do enough.
I like to think that perhaps this guilt is just a normal part of being a mom. That maybe I'm just one a regular mom trying her darndest to make her family function, and then feeling responsible when life isn't perfect.
I read an article in Glamour magazine today about recovering from a breakup. I thought it was interesting because the author talked about how we have to really accept the loss. We have to embrace the heartache and move on. I think to some extent, guilt is the same way. If we hold on to needless guilt it keeps us from moving on.
For the longest time if someone asked me what I felt the most guilty about, I would share this story: When I was in ninth grade (believe me, it's long enough ago to make the fact that I still felt guilty about this pretty darn ridiculous) I was asked to a dance by a boy I really liked. Really really liked.We'll call him Bob. So of course I told him yes. However, my family had a rule: no dating until 16. And I wasn't 16.
I was too afraid to tell Bob that I couldn't come, and too afraid to even ask my if I could go. The whole night of the dance I stared at the clock and my stomach stayed clenched in knots the entire time. The next day I tried to talk to Bob but he just ignored me. I later found out he stood around waiting for me most of the night. Bah. Even as I write this I get a little clench in my stomach.
Fast forward to last year and I happened to find Bob on Facebook (oh wonder of technology). I still felt so guilty that I sent him a note of apology for an event that happened 15 years previous. Not surprisingly, I didn't get a response. But, much to my surprise, I did feel better.
I think as moms there are things that we should feel guilty about. Guilt motivates us to make better choices and to focus more on the important things. But feeling guilty when we do things that are necessary, especially when we really are doing our best, is pretty silly.
When we learn to embrace the guilt, look at it and decide whether it is important enough to dwell on or not, we will learn to find more balance in our lives and spend less time wasting away on pointless guilt and more time focusing on changing the things that need fixing.
That being said I'm off to spend time with my family as my own personal Jiminy Cricket is telling me to lay off the blogging and read my kids a story.