Have you ever considered how much guilt mothers seem to carry with them? A bit like carrying a travel suitcase packed with too many things, straining along the way, ready to discard some items to make the load easier. Now suitcases come in all shapes and sizes. But its the weight that makes the journey harder to bear.
Imagine being caught out at the airport with excessive weight when you know the maximum carry on is 7kg! What needs to be taken out? The extra book and shoes, 2 extra gifts that a friend asked you to take and so on.
Guilt has a way of pushing you down and making you feel bad about yourself. It makes you feel inadequate or ashamed. It brings tears to the eyes; a lead weight into your heart and arouses confused feelings and emotions. Leaving a child at the day care centre is a perfect example. Dressed and organised, lunches packed and money ready, your infant is already anxious about letting go when you leave the house; and so are you. It gets worse with drop off. You walk through the gate juggling handbag, child and toys to hand over your precious one to a carer.
No matter how much you talk to yourself that things will be alright; she/he will be safe and happy after mummy leaves, the guilt creeps in to tip you upside down. Tears come. Should I do this? How can I do this? What sort of parent am I? What happens if..? The negative self talk. It hurts to say goodbye. Watching their faces shrivel up, listening to their screams is very upsetting. No wonder Mr Guilt cleverly works his magic tricks with you and delivers a sour potion. The trick is NOT to take it so personally. It’s not always about YOU.
Mothers often feel guilty. Gym classes, over spending, over eating, staying home or working. Leaving baby with grandma, breastfeeding or bottle. Unclean house, messy rooms, take away dinners, poor child behaviour, the list goes on. Recently I knew someone who decided to pay a cleaner to come in fortnightly to clean the house because they do not like housework. The guilt trip didn’t last long when they saw the wonderful results of spotless windows, vaccumed carpets and polished sinks.
Juggling work life balance is never easy. And making choices to prioritise in the family naturally brings changes. I hope that being kind to yourself, not sweating the small stuff and allowing yourself some pleasures releases the pain of guilt.
I think good guilt comes when we stop and reflect on the situation – being mindful of our actions and working out our intentions and purposes. Lifestyles today seem busier than ever and having a sit down eye to eye conversation with an important person in our life is sadly being eroded. The truth is everyone faces scary “guilt” with its accusing pointy finger.
It’s important to create meaningful balance in work and leisure, letting go of the excess and being content. It’s important to take responsibility and accountability. Even the kids can blame parents and make them feel bad. Excuses kids offer hurt the already “inadequate”, guilt-ridden parent. So do not buy into all the verbal abuse or criticisms that come your way.
Remember you try your best. You make different choices. You are not perfect.
Can you recall a time when the pangs of guilt caught you off guard?