To be honest, this post is a bit of a last minute idea, and I’m a bit scared to be posting it. I was going to write a post on how to cut avocados. I bought the avocados today, and even asked the grocer at Trader Joe’s to give me a discount because there was only 3 avocados when the bag clearly said “4 ct”. Yes, I went there, and have no guilt about it at all. But guilt…well, there’s my segue. I have had all of these undefined feelings rolling around in my head, and in my heart, with no way of expressing it. Baring one’s soul to a pack of girlfriends is one thing, but writing about it on a public forum like a blog is a big scary thing. Who knows who reads this. Who knows who is going to judge me, vocally or silently, on it. I’ve read some beautiful posts on the challenges of infertility or other medical issues, but it seems harder to write about those personal demons that go bumppity bump in your head at night. The ones you try not to think about during the day, for me, specifically…guilt.
Guilt abounds, my friends.
In so many different manifestations, for so many different reasons. Ever since I was laid off last summer, I’ve been at home with LM. At first, being a mom to a newborn, I just concentrated recovering and taking care of this squishy little thing. But as time went on, I started feeling like I should be getting stuff done. There’s dinner to put on the table, dishes to clean, floors to vacuum, laundry to be done, blog posts to be written. If other moms can do it with multiple kids at home, why can’t I? I need to be just as productive as everyone else! On the rare day that I was lucky enough to drop off LM at daycare for a day, I went on a frenzy. I knew I would have 8 hours to do EVERYTHING that I said I couldn’t do with a baby at home. I have to attack the mile-long to do list for the blog to make it successful, as well as clean the house to within an inch of its life, and do an exercise video…you know, to fit into those swimsuits I’ll never use. Surprisingly, or not surprisingly, those days were more exhausting than the days when I had the baby at home. But boy did I feel guilt either way. If LM went to daycare, I felt guilty for not getting more done. If LM stayed home, I felt guilty for not getting more done. Wait. Yup. Isn’t that a catch 22?
I have a daily bible verse app, and on the day after the Haven conference, I read this:
Hebrews 12:1-2 ()
12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. #Bible https://mydailybible.org/dv/
It pretty much made me burst into tears when I read it because I had just finished a conference where I met so many kindred spirits and made so many new friends who understood me and made me feel so … carefree, and were so supportive knowing I was about to make a big move. They were my cloud of witnesses before this new adventure we were embarking on.
And boy has it been an endurance race of long days and short nights. After a frantic move (3 weeks from start to finish), a cross country road trip, taking my class finals in a hotel room, and living in temporary housing for a month, I am now a west coast girl….a stressed out and exhausted west coast girl. Believe you me, the traffic here doesn’t help with the stress levels either, yikes! The pace here makes our old locale feel like the middle of horse country, with sweet tea on the patio. And this race isn’t over yet.
Rainbows and Unicorn Farts
It’s pretty beautiful here. The skies are so blue sometimes it’s surreal. It’s sunny, every. single. day. Almost makes me miss the quiet summer rain showers. (Almost.) But it’s not all rainbows and unicorn farts. (sigh. I love that line. Forgive my crassness). There’s guilt here too. New guilt and old ones – for dragging the kids on every errand, for not feeling as grateful as I should be for the temporary housing, which is fantastic, if you’re ok with living in a hotel for a month. Guilt for spending money at Target when we’re on a single income. And as I stay home with LM, the same old guilt of not doing more. And not just cleaning and cooking and blogging, but other life things. I play this mashed up game of If You Give A Mouse a Cookie and Choose Your Own Adventure. Should I file for unemployment today or look for pediatricians? Filing for unemployment requires you to actively look for a job. Looking for a job requires applying for a job. If I want a career in design, I probably need a portfolio of my work. To make a portfolio, I need a website, but a website needs a template, etc etc etc ….and a glass of milk and a straw….you get the picture. But wait, if I’m doing that, who’s watching the baby? These are the precious moments! Each moment not spent soaking up her cuteness is gone forever!
Decisions can be paralyzing. When LM goes down for a nap, I stand there, dumbfounded, unsure of what to do next. I have 45 minutes, maybe an hour. Do I shower, nap, eat, work, or clean the house? The minutes tick by and I just wander around, picking up clutter until I figure out a plan. Sometimes, I make up a plan while rocking her to sleep, but then I’m not focusing on singing her a lullaby and loving her mile-long eyelashes. I get obsessive over planning ahead so I don’t waste a minute, but that defeats the purpose of living in the moment. And then, when I burn myself out, I am completely useless, wasting minute after minute, just zonked out in front of the TV.
Why do I do this to myself? I was chatting with some friends and I know I’m not alone in how I feel. So, why do we do this to ourselves? As moms, as parents, as women, why do we feel the need to take on the world? Ok, we could probably rule the world if we really wanted, but I bet you there’d be lots of guilt involved! What can we do to rid ourselves of this ugly parasitic thing that hangs over us? I don’t have answers. I know my tagline is “one joyful day at a time”, but sometimes, the guilt and the pressure is so overwhelming that it’s hard to be joyful, even when surrounded by beauty and sunshine and love.
Good intentions are everywhere, in our spouses, in our friends and family, even in the little fluttery kisses from J when he knows mommy is sad. But this problem, for me anyway, is in my head. I think it becomes a matter of will. I remember now why I created my tagline. It’s not that every day is joyful; it’s to willfully and purposefully try to live joyfully, one day at a time. The race that is set before me is not just the move, nor the classes, nor this stint in glorified hotel living. It’s just life, each and every day. And we all have to run this race with endurance. Good thing God (and our friends) is there to cheer us on.
What about you? Do you feel guilt over things in your daily life, or how do you will yourself to get past it? I can’t possibly be alone in this predicament, right?