Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lesson #6 Guilt...virtual and otherwise

Lesson #6

I can feel guilty about anything. Anything. I feel guilty that I have pairs of socks I don't wear often enough. They're perfectly good I tell myself why don't I wear them more often? Are they lonely in that drawer? Am I really having this conversation with myself about socks? Oh my God its come to this. I am having internal conversations about SOCKS. I need a hobby. I know! A hobby where I can wear more socks!

Guilt can have a stunningly cumulative effect on ones life. My experience with guilt is that it's a slippery slope. Before you know it you are feeling guilty about having a name no one can ever spell correctly (it's not that hard people!), apologizing to your children for not cutting the crusts off their sandwiches, watering the plants (“You're going to feel bad when the Earth has no water in 2034 and be all, “I shouldn't have watered the damn plants”) and so on. When I became a mom my love hate relationship with guilt intensified. There is nothing like parental guilt. You can easily be consumed by the hundreds of decisions you have to make each and every day about the well being of your child and come to grips with the reality that you just can't control everything. Sometimes you can't control one thing, let alone everything. As a parent, I know I have felt guilt over the minor to the major including delaying solids, getting vaccines, daycare, diaper rashes, pacifier use, falls etc. The list could go on and on. I have become keenly aware that there are no do overs and as Eminem would say, “success is my only option.” I just quoted Eminem in a post about parenting. "And the parent of the year award goes to: …......." I did edit it though. He used some other colorful language. He's right though. Success is your only option when you are a parent so I think that plays a large part in my recurrent guilt about the job I am doing. Recently, I have been experiencing two recurrent guilt trips. One seems valid and the other seems insane. I feel guilty that I haven't kept up the boys baby books. I haven't been dutifully cataloging important life events in the way a doting mother should. I started a baby book when I had Jack but stopped at the part that wanted me to chart his teeth and when they grew in. I still feel guilty that I stopped. I imagine him picking the book up one day and looking at me and with a choked voice saying, “Mom, when did my left incisor grow in? You just stopped right here in the book.....I have no documentation of molar growth! You are the worst mother ever!” And then he would go cry and hide in the bushes or something. Ok so while I know that sounds completely asinine I do picture him being disappointed that I wasn’t more caring. More attentive to documentation. Cue the blog! This has been my virtual attempt at guilt reversal. My other and less valid guilt trip has been that I don't spend enough time with my children. In case you don't know I am now a stay at home mom. I spend virtually all waking time with my children. I have a 5 month old who doesn't go more than 2-3 hours in between feedings around the clock and yet I feel guilty that I don't spend enough time with my kids? There is no explanation other than: Guilt is a crazy beast, man. It can crawl inside your head and just set up shop. My guilt monster is pretty happy these days and quite frankly I need to kick his sorry ass to the curb. My plan to avoid baby book guilt is to just document the crap out of stuff here. The things that looking back my kids would want to know about. The funny things they say, the milestones, and even the times they drove me to the brink and back. Every time the guilt beast starts up I just remind myself that I CAN feel guilty about something but I don't have to. In the words of a dear old friend, you just don't have to believe everything you think. Amen.

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