Friend guilt, wife guilt, mom guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt…..
Why is it that no matter what we do as women there is always something in the back of our minds nagging us, making us second guess our decisions? Hindering us from sharing good news with friends, declining an invite to dinner, or passing up an opportunity.
I have experienced my fair share of guilt. I am so ready to knock that shit off.
When I was younger, eager to get engaged to my high school sweetheart, counting down the days until college graduation, I experienced my first dose of women’s guilt.
A solid portion of my tribe was created while I was attending Kutztown University. Surprisingly, these women were actually women I had worked with at the local bank, and were not affiliated with my school other than the time I had met and formed bonds was at the time I was studying. A member of my tribe, who had also been dating her high school sweetheart, was asked for her hand in marriage. This woman is the kindest most beautiful woman on the inside and out. I would have been ecstatic for her, if she would have let us know. It wasn’t until months later that she finally shared her news. I understood her reasoning, but that is just it, do you think a man would have thought twice about telling his friends of his happy news?
When you get married you form a union, a partnership. With each having their strong points and offering and equal balance. But what happens when that balance shifts, and one is virtually responsible for most things? And by most things I am referring to the shared space, the home “work”, the chores, that, let’s be real, no one wants to do. Traditional roles indicate that women take care of the home and children. But that was back when women seldom held a position outside of the home. Now these tasks should be shared. But realistically the majority are not. Herein lies the guilt. You married this person because you loved them, wanted to grow old with them, wanted to raise a family and have morning wake up calls and evening pillow talk. You can’t help but resent them from time to time. Why can’t they do something without you asking them? How do you not see the dirty dishes in the sink that were there from 3 days ago? Don’t they notice the laundry basket overflowing in the corner? One day you come home from an extra-long day at work, you are exhausted and hangry, you walk in to your beloved vegged out on the couch watching Sports Center and he calls out “Hey honey, what’s for dinner?”
YOU LOSE IT!
In your head you are planning their slow and painful death. And none of your girlfriends would blame you, -in fact they would most likely help you bury the body. After you have effectively ripped him a new one, and made him order out and pick up the food, you contemplate your outburst and feel guilty. It wasn’t their fault you had a crap day, they are used to you taking charge in the kitchen and this is a typical conversation you have every evening.
The biggest guilt of them all, MOM GUILT.
When you have children it changes your life in so many ways. Not only are you responsible for a life, but the emotions and the overwhelming need to be an amazing parent can get claustrophobic. You read every book about parenting, find interesting articles from published doctors, you have watched your friends and family raise children, you know what BPA, MSG, VBAC, CIO, DH, IVF etc. means and in the first year of being a mom you generally have no idea what time it is or what day. But what no one tells you and I mean no one; is the intense feeling of guilt at every decision you make.
Bottle feed instead of breast feed, cloth diapers vs disposable diapers, cry it out (CIO) instead of snuggle and rock your baby, go back to work full time and send your child to day care, the list is endless. It really is.
I used to feel guilty taking a 20 minute shower instead of a 10 minute one, taking an extra 15 minutes at the grocery store because it was busy, for even the thought of wanting just 1 hour to myself, I mean what kind of mother wants an hour away from her beautiful newborn child? The guilt of wanting my pre-baby body back even though I know my stretch marks, saggy boobs and expanded waistline was caused by the most beautiful thing I have ever done.
When will it end?
I am vowing to take steps every day to end this cycle of guilt. Own my right to be selfish at times, understand that my kids will be okay if I “let go” and most importantly focus on the fact that if I am not truly happy no one around me will be happy either.
I encourage YOU to do that same thing. Take that long weekend trip with the girls. Enjoy an extra long bath with a glass of wine in your hand and lock the door so no one intrudes. Don’t make dinner every day for a week, inform friends of your new promotion or your purchase of your vacation home. Let go of all the guilt. You only have one life to live, live it guilt-free.