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!