I’m very famililar with the term Catholic guilt, but is that true? Are Catholics the only people who go through life with guilt?
Of course not. There are all kinds of guilt. Mothers in particular are full of it. Guilty for putting their children into a creche. Guilty for not putting them in a creche. Guilty for being a working mum and leaving them during the day. Guilty for not being a working mum and limiting their ambitions. A mothers guilt is endless.
After over twenty years of mothering, I’ve almost got over my mothering guilt. I’ve come to terms with the fact that my four children will, in time, blame me for all that is wrong in their lives and credit themselves with all that is good. I think that’s the way of the world and it’s not until they are older and stressed, with children who also blame them for everything, that they will understand they may have got it wrong.
So what do I feel guilty about?
I am riddled with guilt on a daily basis about taking time out. Most mornings after I wave the kids off for school I have the house to myself. Many years I’ve waited for this moment. I’m all alone, the house is quiet, the mad morning rush over. Time for a breather. Bliss I hear you say.
Each morning I boil the kettle and sit in my quiet house drinking a cup of tea, but I do so as if I am moments away from being ‘discovered’, that at any time the door will open and my other half and kids will burst in and shout, “Look at you Miss Busy Mum”.
After my not exactly relaxing cup of tea, I ring my mum. Nothing to feel guilty about there you may say.
As I’m speaking with her do I sit and enjoy our chat? No. I tidy away dishes, put laundry into the washing machine or hang up clothes in my bedroom.
Some days I have ‘jobs’ to do outside the house but if I don’t I might have ‘work’ to do for the swim club I teach with. For this I can happily sit for hours guilt free, as I feel it is indeed a form of work. Contrast that with how I feel if I have a story I want to write or a post I want to prepare for my blog, I’m back to the G word again.
So guilty am I about siting relaxing in my own home, that if I were to take a break around eleven for another cuppa, (remember I fit a lot of cups of tea into my day) and hear the postman deliver letters, I’d jump up, dump my tea and look for something to do, despite the fact he can’t even see me!
Where the guilt came from I have no idea but I do have my suspicions. I blame my mum. She is the busiest woman I know. Now in her eighties I could phone her at 9am and she will already have showered, dressed, have something cooking in the oven, the kitchen tidied and who knows what else done. I, on the other hand, will be sitting in my kitchen drinking tea and the breakfast dishes may still be scattered about it.
Many days I wish I could get over this guilt. I see others and they don’t appear to mind too much if they have a day that’s quiet. I must admit I envy them.
Then I look at my Mum, the fuel for my guilt and I am a little consoled. If guilt makes me get out of bed early each morning, keep myself active all day and continue to be a mother my children admire well into my eighties, maybe it’s not such a bad thing?
Now I’m sorry but I have to go as I’ve been a bit too long sitting writing this and the postman is due!
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photo credit: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat! via photopin (license)
38 thoughts on “Are you guilty?”
Oh yes. Guilt. It’s a mother’s worst enemy and can be a best friend if you can put guilt away when it’s not needed. But that’s a tough one.
I think we all carry guilt around and some days it’s a real pain.
I’m hoping with practise I’ll grow out of it. 🙂
Deep. Love it.
I recognise this but I’m nowhere near as bad as I used to be. Somehow, somewhere along the lines I’ve managed to justify my leisure and it can get pretty lengthy nowadays when I feel the need! I remember speaking to hubs years ago about this and he said he felt the same, like we should always be up and doing as there was always something needing done, the two of us feeling guilty unless we were both relaxing at the same time. Enjoy your new found time, Tric. See it as well-deserved. Call it conserving energy. 😉 There’ll be some days you get none.
Your comment was very encouraging. I like that, ‘conserving energy;. My OH never sits when he’s at home which doesn’t help either. I never asked if he feels guilty.
I think, in time, I’ll adjust to having a bit more me time, but even thinking of it here makes me feel guilty.#eejit 🙂
#Ieejit lol! 😀 I was thinking about your post even after I made the comment and wondering why some people have no problem doing absolutely nothing pretty much all of the time. The folk that don’t see lazy as a vice. We wouldn’t want to be them. I reckon it’s about balance. After all the busy, busy years you have to readjust. I think that’s what I’m doing. 😉
relaxing is a part of contributing to the common good. in this way, you are helping everyone!
I like your thinking Beth. 🙂
*ignore how long I’ve been on-line this evening*
Haha, Don’t remind me of something else to feel guilty about. Actually I was amazed at how many do not feel guilty. I thought everyone did.
It depends on which guilt. Yes! there’s a a menu of them! To be continued in a blog post. Possibly *Jaws theme music*
Irish/Catholic/Oldest Daughter/Middle Child…..guilt is in my DNA. 😦 😉
Ah there’s no hope for you Colleen. 🙂
I’m inclined to agree….. sigh.
I know how you feel. My 81 year old mother can run circles around me! I swear she has more energy than I do. I come from a perfectionist workaholic father and a very hard-working mother. My brother has turned into my father and my sister-in-law says she feels she has to be busy every single second of the day because my brother is always busy working around. I, on the other hand, have absolutely no problem whatsoever relaxing. I can always put stuff off until “tomorrow”…which sometimes never comes. Often I feel guilty about it but I’ve come to realize that I do work hard so if I feel like relaxing and not doing a damn thing, I ought to be just fine with that…and I am.
Don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes we humans have the most growth when we sit in the silence…
Michele at Angels Bark
Wise words. I’ve been amazed at the fact there are people who do not feel guilty. I’m going to have to ‘work’ harder at enjoying me time guiltfree.
Mothers like us need the “me” times too.
Yes how true. We need to charge the batteries now and again.
Interesting one, Tric. I don’t understand the kind of guilt you write about. I see resting and relaxing (the latter could be climbing a mountain) as being essentials of life. I think it helps that my mother had a rest in bed for an hour or so from when I was a child. We respected ‘her’ time. She used it mainly to read, one of her many passions.
I was really taken by your comment the other day for two reasons. 1, that guilt really is unnecessary. Many don’t feel it and it’s not altogether healthy.
However it was the second reason which resonated with me most, that you as a child learned ‘me’ time by watching your mum. That was a very valuable lesson and one I’m going to try to begin. Hopefully I’m not too late.
Oh I don’t think it’s ever too late!
Does it count as father’s guilt if I feel bad about eating a bit of chocolate secretly at breakfast time when the kids aren’t looking?
I don’t think you should feel any guilt about that, after all you are saving their teeth and keeping temptation out of sight. Well done you.
That is a fantastic way to put it, Tric! Now that I think about it, I wonder if there might be a sainthood or possibly a Nobel Prize of some kind waiting for me in the not too distant future..
When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years-Mark Twain.
I think Twain had it right about children and parents, like you said when they are older they will understand and appreciate it, as for guilty about not being a working mum I wonder how many working mums feel guilty that they could not be around more before the kids grew up and moved out? It seems guilt and anxiety are a vicious cycle to me and we should be a lot easier on ourselves.
I look forward to those Mark Twain moments in the future.
I do think mothers are forever looking for something to be guilty about but having read the comments I’ m surprised at the fact many do not feel the guilt I do. Lets me off the hook a bit and time for me to learn to chill.
Pour yourself a glass of wine!
Love this post and relate to it sooooo much! I’m forever consumed with guilt over everything! Us mums really do think we have to hold all together and can’t take a well earned break!! That said I wouldn’t change either!
Good to have a companion! Actually after this post I’m really going to try to enjoy time out with a little less guilt and you, after all you’ve had on your plate deserve a lot of time to re charge your batteries guilt free too.
I must admit to sometimes feeling guilty about not being busy enough. Like when there’s tons of housework to do and I’m flaffing about online. Or when a trip away comes up and I feel guilty for going on it because I don’t bring any money into the house. Ridiculous. Yet I’d be the first to tell you all about the other contributions stay at home mums make to their homes and to society. Like, because they are at home they are more available to volunteer for school or parish/community ‘jobs’. Or even teach at a swim club, or choreograph a school panto or musical 😉
That’s it in a nutshell isn’t it. We have no problem seeing all that others do but berate ourselves for coming up short (or not tidying or working when we should)
Tomorrow is a new day, maybe some guilt free me time is coming my way.
Remember that we are called human be-ings, not human do-ings.
I read your comment the other day and it really is so true. I think I’ll make a point of remembering that. Thank you.
The only guilt I feel is when I’ve been blogging too long, while other tasks sit on the back burner. 🙂 Other than this, I try to take time for me, so I can balance it all. Now with taking classes, homework weaves its way into the mix, too. 🙂
Since writing this post I’ve made a real effort to make the distinction between working and being busy and taking time for me. I’m still a bit guilty but definitely enjoying me time better.
I don’t usually feel guilty blogging as I do it in the evening when I’m watching TV and relaxing, it’s the daytime that is my ‘guilty’ zone.
Are you studying?
I’m glad you are finding more time for you, and I actually just got home from class, checking updates before calling it a night. 😊