Guilt — A mother’s constant companion

Motherhood is full of wonderful emotion — the love, laughter, and joy are fuel to get through the days. The flip side is, it is also full of dangerous emotion — doubt, fear and guilt are like dark clouds that threaten to cripple us at any moment.

Today is a Monday. I got a call from the school that my kids had no lunch. Yesterday, we opted to enjoy the rest of our weekend and never got to the food store, so this morning, the cupboard was essentially bare. My plan was to call the deli and have lunch delivered, but in the morning madness, I simply forgot. Because I am riddled with guilt at every moment, I need to add we had nine lax and soccer games this weekend. Sunday night was our first moment to unwind. The last thing I wanted to do was go to the supermarket — my least favorite errand.

Like the amazing mom I am, when I got the call, I literally ran up to the school with bags for them. I blew into the lunch room to see Lorelei surrounded by friends giving her bits of their stash, like a baby bird with a hurt wing. The look on her face was enough to earn an Oscar nomination, as she milked the severe hunger and parental abandonment for all it was worth. From my older daughter, I got minor attitude. When I say minor, I mean not enough to make me mad, but definitely enough to bring on the guilt. The truth is, a westerly wind is enough to bring on the guilt these days! But why? No one is going to starve. It is good for my coddled kids to be inconvenienced once in a while and, most importantly, I am only human.

For parents, love is a definite, but guilt is a choice. No one, even the best little dramatic actress, can make us feel guilty. We do this to ourselves. When no one else would blame us, when intellectually we don’t even blame ourselves, we still pile on the guilt. I often think about why I let the guilt get to me. Guilt will not help me succeed, nor will it correct my wrongs. Guilt is counter productive. As difficult as it is, the only solution is to banishing this negative emotion from your mind.

Join me in committing to not feeling guilty — if even for one day. Just say “NO”. You are imperfect. You will fail, you will make mistakes.  You will occasionally disappoint your children as they will occasionally disappoint you. That’s why we were given the gift of unconditional love. What does all the guilt accomplish? Not a thing. Throw it away, rail against it, consciously combat it with the knowledge you are the greatest mom your kids could have and that alone, is good enough!

“Calvin: There’s no problem so awful, that you can’t add some guilt to it and make it even worse.”
Bill Watterson, The Complete Calvin and Hobbes.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Doctor, mom of five and founder of Tips From Town.