I feel guilty that:
Sophie’s not getting good enough sleep. That she doesn’t have a consistent eating schedule. I don’t work out enough. My language deficiencies are staggering. I don’t cook enough, clean enough or get out of the house enough. I have books I should read and nursery rhymes to memorize. And so on, ad infinitum.
Like shampoo and conditioner, every day I pour on the guilt and worry. You can imagine the comfort I felt when I read this article on BabyCenter about “saying no to mom guilt.” Ahh, so others do this too? I’m not crazy? Or at least I’m not alone in my crazy.
Here’s an excerpt from Samantha Schoech‘s article if you will feel too guilty taking the time to click on the full story: 😉
“We feel guilty if we have a glass of wine while we’re nursing, guilty if they watch a little too much TV one day. We feel guilty if they’re picky eaters, guilty if they take no classes. And guilty if they take too many.
We’re guilty if we go out too much, guilty if we never do. Guilty for spending money on ourselves and guilty for looking like slobs. Mothers often feel guilty when their kids get hurt, as if moms control the laws of gravity and velocity. We feel guilty for every single cry we didn’t respond to.
It’s as if parenting were some test of your worthiness as a person and anything less than perfection is a failure.
And guess what? It’s totally and utterly useless. It’s not making you a better parent. It’s not making you a better person. It is only making you miserable and slightly tiresome to be around.”
I’ll take this one step further and add “mom worry” to the mix.
After spending a couple of weeks absorbed in, no, obsessed with, Sophie’s sleep, my nerves were at an all-time frenzy.
I woke while she slept soundly, worried about the next time she’d wake up and if she’d be crying. I’d stare at charts and scour blogs looking for answers to questions like: “Why won’t she take her third nap?” and “Her sleep times are too short so her bedtime is too early. What now?”
I was so worked up I had lost my desire for food. I’d eat, sure. But my stomach was in knots and I had little attention for anything else. Poor Dominique.
This week, I will try a new tack — a little trick of the mind I read (somewhere … I wish I could recall. If I find it again I’ll post a link). Just put the guilt off for another day. Tell yourself you just don’t have time for it now. By the time the “day of guilt” arrives, chances are pretty good you’ve forgotten about it.
**Found it in a baby resource book called Great Expectations: Baby’s First Year by Sandy Jones and Marcie Jones. Page 144 in the chapter on 6 month olds:
“Reserve a “guilt afternoon.” Instead of wasting a whole week blaming yourself-dedicate, say, Thursday afternoons to looking at your guilt issues. Then postpone self-blaming until then. You may discover that postponing eases your guilt and loosens its grip on you.”
I’m betting this approach will work for anyone, man, woman, parent or not. If worry and guilt sit squarely on your shoulders day in and day out, give this a chance.
This week, my challenge is to feel guilty, to worry, on Sunday. Any time I notice that I am wallowing in guilt or anxiety about something, I will note it and tell the little (or obnoxiously loud) voice in my head to relax, I will feel guilty on Sunday.
I chose Sunday because it’s a great family day. I love Sundays. Most stores are closed and there’s a rule here in Switzerland that you don’t do work on the day of rest. So to keep up appearances, any work that makes noise your neighbors can hear is off limits. There isn’t as much to distract us on Sundays.
Our breakfast spread covers the whole of the kitchen table. Eggs or pancakes, espresso with pastries, bread, meats, cheeses. We sit and talk and enjoy each others’ company. There’s no time for guilt or worry on Sunday.
No more guilt if chores go undone. I see you, dust balls. We’ll be friends all week.
No more fretting if we’re 20 minutes late for Sophie’s nap. She may get a little fussy. We may pay for it with a difficult bedtime. But she will sleep and we will get on with life.
No more imagining I can cram 80,027 chores into a 45-minute window of quiet and then feeling terrible for having “failed.”
I will feel guilty for all of that on Sunday. I’ll drink it down with my espresso and a bite of cheese and raspberry Danish.