Chasing Contentment

Wednesday, April 27

My second writing assignment was to write a dialogue between myself and my mama guilt (as we call it in my house), which should be really easy as my guilt and I are on a first-name basis. I have guilt about so many things that I even have guilt about having guilt. Giving up guilt was my New Year's Resolution. I've not abandoned it yet, and I haven't conquered guilt yet, so I suppose it's still a work in progress.

As I've been thinking this conversation through in my head for the last two days, thinking that I'd get it sorted out before I wrote it out, it's been really difficult. As I think about it, I notice two things. First, in this conversation, I play guilt. Guilt has my voice. The voice of me - the voice of reason, I believe it's supposed to be in this exercise - sounds a lot like Mike. I suppose that's because he's the one always trying to quell my guilt.

When the voices both sound like me, the guilt voice seems to have the solid responses, while the me voice sounds a lot like a petulant teenager. I'm sure this is a remarkably distorted thing for me. My only comfort comes from knowing that I know the answers, the responses that should be given to guilt, and that I am actively working on seeing things initially from the me side and not the guilt side. That's the work in progress part, and I'm pleased that I'm working on it. For me, the accomplishing isn't the goal. It's the working on it that's rewarding.

Another reason this exercise has been difficult is because I am not a big picture girl. I cannot address my guilt as a whole. Even my mama guilt has nuances and subtleties that cannot be addressed all at once. I'm a detail girl, moving in little steps toward something or away from something, as the case may be. And so I can only speak to guilt on one topic at a time.

For this exercise, I suppose, I'll address the guilt I've felt this week. For the purposes of this dialogue, I'll try to play both parts, but in reality Guilt looks a lot like a short, curvy woman and Me looks a lot like a tall, handsome Astros fan.

Guilt: "Eliza wouldn't have gotten sick at all if you'd not tried to play doctor and determined that she didn't need the daily meds."
Me: "She was doing fine without the meds until the legushrum began blooming last week. It's what made me sick, too. I don't want to give her meds she doesn't have a legitimate need to take."
Guilt: "Obviously, she needed them or she wouldn't be sick now. And the poor baby is sick. You did pass along really lousy genes to both of the kids... allergies, asthma."
Me: "They say those things aren't genetic, though I don't agree with that. But they got good things from me, too. Compassion, empathy, laughter."
Guilt: "If you didn't work, she could have been home again today, resting like she needs."
Me: "She was well enough to go back, and K will take especially good care of Eliza today. She gets lots of good things from being in daycare, and I get lots of good things from working."
Guilt: "If you didn't work, you could be home today resting and getting yourself better."
Me: "That's true. I do feel bad. And I could use some rest. But if I was home with two kids, I wouldn't get any more rest than I will at work. I'll probably get more quiet time at work!"

It could go on and on, but in the end, this guilt is just another part of me that I carry around daily. Like all of the other parts, some days it has its moments, and other days, I hardly notice it at all. I'd have guilt whether I was a mother or not. It's part of how I'm wired. My job is to try to control it enough that it doesn't affect my children or my life in general and to teach my children that guilt, like anything else, can be a motivator or a destructor. Guilt, like most other things, is a choice. My goal for this year has been to give up the bad things associated with it and to learn to use it for my own good.

[  posted by Chel on Wednesday, April 27, 2005  ]


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