12/01/2014

The Tyranny of Guilt

Being neither Catholic nor in possession of a Jewish mother, I find it amazing how incredibly susceptible to guilt I am. If I didn't know better, I'd say I enjoyed feeling guilt. But really, I promise you, I hate it. It's just so...ooky. And yet, I find myself spending the better part of most days with some element of guilt giggling on my shoulder.

If I make my children eat something they don't like, I feel like I'm a mean parent (and guilty about it). If I cave in and let them choose every meal, I feel guilty about that too (after all, they have to learn to eat what they're given at some point, don't they? They can't live on chicken nuggets and mac and cheese forever. Right?)

If I take time for myself that I desperately want and need so that I can do things like write the contracted books with looming deadlines or scrub a toilet (so it's not as if I'm out partying), I feel guilty for ignoring the kiddos (even though they're happily playing in the same room or within shouting distance.) If I don't take that time and instead just play with the kids, I feel guilty about all the stuff that should be getting done that just isn't.

I've been invited to a party on Saturday. So many layers of guilt. I don't really want to go. (Guilt.) But I wouldn't mind seeing  a few of the people who will be there. But if I do go, then I'm deserting the family on a Saturday when we could be hanging out together. (Guilt.) And if I don't go, then the couple of people I'd like to see have already said they'll miss me. (Guilt.)

And so it goes. Guilt when I do. Guilt when I don't. Guilt when I feel bad about feeling so guilty. 

It's very likely that you'll read this and think to yourself, a la While You Were Sleeping, "Lucy, they have doctors for this kind of thing!" And, well, you might be right. But if I were to seek such a person out, I have a feeling I'd feel guilty for taking up their time when they could be helping people who really need them.

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