This evening I have another Reiki appointment, and part of me can’t wait. However, there is another part of me so wrapped up in guilt because I am taking time off for myself, that I will probably end up taking a pill just to relax far enough into the luxury. You see, my husband took both children away last night, and I was able to enjoy two full hours of peace, of quiet, and of (shall I say it again) peace. It was a wonderful evening, that while I didn’t need, certainly enjoyed. And tonight I am asking him to again be the sole parent over my two children.
I never completely understood guilt until I was a mother. When you are growing up that feeling is reserved to times of great shame and misery. When you are a wife, you can easily justify to yourself what you need, because your husband is not necessarily adding to his burden by your inattentiveness. But when you have children, especially children that are solely dependent on you, guilt becomes the number one factor in your life.
I feel guilty that I work, instead of providing my son guidance each night on his homework, and being there for each and every one of his school events. I feel guilty when I have to send my children to school barely sick, because I can’t take any more time off. I feel guilty when my house isn’t clean enough, when I wait an extra day to buy groceries, when I don’t have enough money to give my children something fun to do. I feel guilty because I can get lost in a book, lost in my writing, and take a prescription pill to make it all go away. I have the mental ability to not pay attention to my children, and the mother instinct to be secure in the knowledge that I will hear them if something is wrong.
Guilt is a part of my life. And when you read all the books, magazines, friends’ advice that says a mom should never feel guilty, I always want to stick my tongue out and say sure, it’s easy for you to say. No matter what I do, how I do it, I am built to automatically believe that I have not done enough, not been enough. I wish I could fault my husband or my children for these feelings, but the truth is, it is all on me.
I don’t deal well with the guilt, either. When I am feeling guilty about something, I tend to simply bury my head in the sand, and ignore the problem all together. Not a very mature way to handle it, but it is so ingrained in my habits that it is all I ever do. When I know that cleaning the house is desperately needed, but if I don’t have time or the energy, I simply bury my head. When I know that I could be spending time doing more exercises or fun things with my children, but would much rather enjoy some peace, I turn on the television and bury my head. I ignore the guilt until it keeps me up at night. And then I worry that I am being too loud while my husband is sleeping, so I bury my head.
I have never expected life to be fair; don’t need it to be fair. I know without a shadow of a doubt that life is not easy, but I don’t need it to be easy. The truth is, there are about a billion things I could do to mitigate the guilt. But instead, I bury my head. Therefore, the guilt is truly my fault. And no amount of people saying that I shouldn’t feel guilty is going to change that fact.
Rather than bury my head I could be cleaning; I could be at the park with my children. Rather than bury my head I could be helping, organizing, doing laundry. But I would rather be selfish. And the thing about being selfish is you pay in guilt. And maybe that is simply the universe’s punishment. Mother Earth sitting up there saying, so you want to be selfish, that is fine, here is a dose of guilt with it. No matter what we believe, the truth is I could stop the majority of guilt (I can’t do anything about my work.) But I choose with my very smart brain to be selfish instead. And therefore, the guilt I feel is the punishment I deserve.
I never thought I would say that I deserve the punishment. Maybe this means I am growing up, finally.