For those of us laying under a weighted blanket of guilt…

17 Dec

Today I saw a meme of sorts – it wasn’t a funny, Kermit drinking tea sort of meme, but one that was supposed to touch the heart of all the moms out there.

And I paraphrase –

“Stop feeling guilty! Just because you packed a crap lunch or missed a soccer game, don’t feel bad! We’re all doing our best! Give up the mom guilt!”

And maybe because I’m a bit cranky these days, but I looked at it and thought “I wish that’s all I felt guilty about.”

Seriously, if I only felt guilty for things like missing games or under-decorated birthday cakes, I probably wouldn’t need a therapist. But thanks to anxiety, Catholicism, and my own special blend of herbs and spices, I take feeling guilty to the next level.

I don’t feel guilty about lunches. Well, maybe I have as well. But my guilt, like my life, has an extra layer of extra.

I feel guilty about all sorts of things out of my control. The things my older three children have missed out on by having a disabled sister. By not doing enough for the disabled daughter. By not living up to my potential because I’m just freaking tired all the time. By not giving enough time to my husband because someone else needs me. Feeling guilty that I can’t be the type of mom my kids should have had because of my anxiety and depressed times.

Jaysus, I’d love to feel bad about missing a fecking soccer game.

It’s exhausting, carrying around all this, and amazing that despite carrying all this, I still manage to get up every morning and try all over again to be better at everything. Which is also exhausting.

Our circumstances are extraordinary. So is my mom guilt, my general life guilt, the secret shames I carry for having a messy house or missing appointments. My Imposter Syndrome is better than your Imposter Syndrome though, but they don’t hand out bumper stickers for that, now do they?

So coming across a meme that is meant well, but is a bit lacking…can set me off. Because stuff like that, those generic platitudes, feed into the problem. Because you’re not feeling guilty over a crappy lunch – you’re feeling guilty because your spouse is out of work and you’re buying the cheapest lunch items possible to make that crappy lunch and you don’t have the money to buy a cool kid’s lunch. You’re not feeling guilty over missing a soccer game, you’re feeling guilty because you’re the only mom in a team full of overachieving parents who missed yet another game because you work. You don’t just feel guilty because your child is missing a school party, you’re feeling guilty because they’re missing the party because of a doctor’s appointment scheduled months ago, one you can’t just reschedule for another day as you’ve already waited months for this appointment. It’s the guilt of having to hold your child down while they take blood, despite the promises of a treat, a reward for being so brave afterwards.

Universal guilts of spending money on yourself, spending time on yourself become amplified when you’re already weighed down by other guilt. You don’t need outsiders to tell you you’re wrong, the voices in your head do that job for you. No, you shouldn’t spend money at the salon to get your hair cut for the first time in six months or a year – there are medical bills to be paid. No, you shouldn’t pause life and read that book – the dishes are stacked up and no one has clean socks. You should do laundry and clean your house instead. Being told to take time for you seems impossible when you have a child who is so very dependent on you. Feeling resentful about that is not allowed, because then you’re a bad parent who doesn’t cherish your precious offspring.

It’s a weighted blanket of guilt that keeps you up at night and yet oddly enough, keeps you moving forward. 

You are way past having a light bulb moment from a meme. You read platitudes by people on the internet and roll your eyes.

Or maybe that’s just me.

But you don’t say these things out loud, because then, ironically, the meme maker will confront you – “I was just trying to help! I didn’t mean you! I have real problems too!” – and then you feel badly for making them feel bad.

The thing is though…the thing is, so much of motherhood on the internet is about being positive. So much of social media is showing your best side. So much of the internet is about striving for better – better lifestyles, better bodies, best life now. Cherish those little moments! Take time for you! Don’t feel guilty! Love your messy life! All accompanied by a smiling photo, granite countertops in the background, all shiny and clear of clutter.

The thing is – I don’t really base my self-worth on these sort of memes. Yet I can still see the damage they do. Not car-wreck damage. But that pebble in your shoe damage, that one last thing that makes you rip off your sock, or causes a blister from rubbing so much.

And these people do mean well. This sort of thing does help them. It just reminds me at times at how distant my reality is from theirs, and how most people don’t show the truth. The hard stuff. The uncomfortable stuff. The real mess.

I am a mess. I’m a hot mess. My house is a mess. My brain is a mess. I do not have granite countertops, and the plain white tile ones I do have aren’t clean right now. I need therapy for all the guilt I carry over everything.

And I know I’m not alone in this.

So cheers to us, the ones living the true messes, the ones who carry on despite the guilt and shame weighing us down. Cheers to us, for getting up every morning and putting one foot after another. Cheers to our little victories, cheers to us for finding a bright moment. Cheers to us for getting up the strength to wash that load of socks or for making that frozen lasagna for dinner.

Cheers to surviving in an ocean constantly trying to drown us.

We may feel the weakest, but we are the strongest of them all.




Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash [image description – a hand rising out of a dark sea, holding a sparkler]






10 Responses to “For those of us laying under a weighted blanket of guilt…”

  1. Eva December 17, 2017 at 4:03 pm #

    Love this.

  2. Christine Phelan December 17, 2017 at 4:08 pm #

    Thank you my love. You keep inspiring. 😚

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. pooped5 December 17, 2017 at 4:24 pm #

    Man, this blog is the truth! Thanks for posting!


  4. saralr1221 December 17, 2017 at 7:38 pm #

    I understand some of your anger. When I was very deep in my ptsd after losing my 6th baby (a boy) I felt that I would never be able to relate to another human being again. I kept thinking that no one would understand how deep my grief was. I was completely torn apart because I’d suffered an extremely abusive childhood and now all my children were dying and I was helpless to save them. If someone told me to focus on the positive when I was in that place I would have wanted to scream at them. I still have a tidal wave of rage in my heart at the utter helplessness and injustice in life.
    Feelings are nothing more than clouds passing over the sun. They are temporary. I have never had another living child but I learned to accept what was and keep fighting for what could be. Those feelings I still have, the paranoia, the fear, the depression, the terrible, terrible anger, I still have them but I don’t let them run my life. We have to resist the voices that make us guilty or feel unworthy. In the end the only thing we can control is ourselves and which demons we want to feed. I kept asking my therapist how I was going to free myself of the past and relate to other people again. The answer is as stupid as some teen drama, I had the power in myself all along (queue eyeroll) all I had to do was decide to free myself. And it took a lot of practice to make freedom a habit but it works if you work it.
    I’m still pissed that every cliche maxim and platitude about life are actually true, but that’s the overdose of irony. That doesn’t make my dead children living, life is life and life is cruel but we don’t have to let that run us into the ground. We can fight back if we want to. I think the wanting to is the key. In the US people have forgotten how to suffer and that for many others suffering is a generally accepted part of life.

  5. bluerosegirl08 December 17, 2017 at 8:32 pm #

    I see so many memes that tell so many people in their 30s to go and grab the life they want. I can’t decide whether I want to laugh or scream. They aren’t talking about me, they are talking about other 30-year-olds, able ones Most days I feel like I’m hanging on to a life that isn’t half of what I want it to be by my fingernails. I love lasagna frozen or not. I’m the other side of your coin and I hear you.

  6. Rebecca Olkowski (@baby_boomster) December 18, 2017 at 3:33 pm #

    We all feel guilty at some point or other, but you’re right that obstacles make us stronger.

  7. ahdavey December 18, 2017 at 6:34 pm #

    This is me! Will share xxx

  8. Pip December 28, 2017 at 4:45 am #

    I always feel guilty for not doing the best for my boys. I worry about packed lunches and my house is lived in (a mess for a lot of the time) I can relate to this. Great post!

  9. Mandi Em December 29, 2017 at 4:08 pm #

    Love this so much ❤❤

  10. evaglosson January 6, 2018 at 11:53 am #

    so much of motherhood on the internet is about being positive. So much of social media is showing your best side. So much of the internet is about striving for better – better lifestyles, better bodies, best life now. Cherish those little moments! Take time for you! Don’t feel guilty! Love your messy life! All accompanied by a smiling photo, granite countertops in the background, all shiny and clear of clutter.
    *insert gif of Thor pointing up with the word ‘THIS’ flashing below*

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