Monday, September 27, 2010

The Guilt Complex

Why is it that ever since I became a woman, I feel guilt ALL the time? Is it like some sort of pre-requisite for being a woman or what? Men don't seem to suffer from this complex as much, or at least they don't show or voice it.

Take for example, tonight. I was putting R to bed, and as is the routine I was reading to him. Yes, he's nine now and can read to himself, but we both enjoy it and it's a nice end to the day (we do the same with L, DH and I switch back and forth between the two when we can). The usual lights-out time we aim for is 8:00, give or take a few. I was anxious tonight to watch House, one of my favourite shows. So I was trying to get it all done before then, but at the point that I said goodnight, R complained vehemently. We hadn't actually finished a chapter, and when I said I wanted to watch my show, he looked at me with glassy eyes and said that it made him feel bad.

GOD! The guilt! That I would put my own selfish needs to watch a show before him...So of course I stayed, read more of the book and missed my show. Oh well.

Then there's Mother Guilt. And I'm not talking about the same mother guilt as above, the kind when you feel guilty for every action you take in regards to your children because you feel like you're f*ing up their lives royally and feel bad for it. I'm talking about Mother Induced Guilt - my OWN mother. I'm not sure how I end up feeling guilty about the things that are wrong in her life, but I do. I guess it's because she's done so much for me in my life (raising me, taking care of me, feeding me, clothing me, giving up things to buy me stuff, being there when my own kids were born, you know, small stuff like that!) and I'm not there for her when she needs someone. It's not really possible most of the time, due to the (geographical) distance between us and time constraints. But this coming weekend I have chosen to spend my birthday weekend with the boys at their Scouting camp (DH is going too as he is a Beaver leader, and the parents are allowed to come for Beavers) instead of going to my mother's as she suggested. This decision was made partly because I still want to spend my birthday with my boys (as much as I don't wish to celebrate turning 37), we wanted to go camping this summer but never got to, and another friend/mom who said, "Awwww, come on, it'll be fun!!" Yeah, sure, spending a night in a cabin with 50 other people and one (?) washroom sounds like a disaster waiting to happen blast.

So I feel guilty about that. That once again I'm not going over to see my mom. Here's the funny thing - She has one Friday a month off. That Friday happens to fall this week (tomorrow). My birthday is Sat. She had said she was going to come see me on the weekend for my birthday, however since I've chosen to go to the camp, she obviously won't. Then I asked her about her off Friday. I asked her when it was, and she confessed that it was this week. I asked her if she would come over then, but she has to take the car in, and then she is going out to celebrate a friend's 70th birthday. So why am I feeling badly about not seeing her when A - it's my birthday and B - she's choosing to celebrate a friend's birthday over mine? Don't get me wrong, I'm not bitter about that, really, I'm not. I'm happy she has friends, and I know she really needs those relationships. Plus I am still harbouring guilt (again with the guilt) about not going to see her on her birthday this year due to a cotttage trip, so I kind of feel like I deserve it. But I just wish I could stop feeling guilty about it!!

Let's not even get started about the other kinds of guilt I feel. Guilt for having a crappy looking garden in the front of my house that doesn't look even close to as nice as anyone else on my street, guilt for throwing out things in the garbage occasionally that should have been separated for recycling, guilt for using non-environmentally friendly cleaning products, guilt for not taking my kids to the dentist, guilt for not taking them to (take your pick here), guilt for not paying more attention to the dog when he was around, guilt for not donating enough to charities, guilt for not being able to go on field trips or volunteer in the classrooms etc, etc, etc.

I once read a book about motherhood and the pressures that mothers feel in this day and age as compared to say, the 50's. It had a lot of info about guilt. It said that we need to rephrase in our heads anytime we feel guilt for things. For example, when you think, "I feel so guilty for dropping him off at school upset," you simply rephrase "I regret dropping him off at school upset" and if it makes sense to you phrasing it that way, then you take steps to change that. If not, stop the guilt and accept it for what it is. Guess I need to remember that.

1 comment:

  1. Damn guilt. I have more regret then guilt but it works just the same. We both have to let it go, though. It's not healthy.

    Enjoy camp with one washroom. You are used to roughing it. perhaps you can just go in the forest.

    Happy Birthday.