I hate guilt.
You’d think I loved it since it’s been my close companion for the past 30 years or so. But no, I loathe it with a passion as I’m sure you do too. I suppose there may be a tiny fraction of the time that a healthy amount of guilt is appropriate, but I’m hard pressed to think of a time that guilt is ever productive. People say it can spur you to change your ways but in my experience the desire to apologize, improve, learn and grow is completely different from guilt.
For me guilt is that sinking feeling in your stomach you get when someone’s found you out, or the ever-present worry that you’ve done something terribly wrong, sometimes for no obvious reason at all. That’s when I sit there, wracking my brain to identify a nebulous guilt that I can’t for the life of me put my finger on, yet which consumes me all the same. Maybe that’s just my anxiety, but honestly, I feel guilt about 85% of my waking life.
And it never encourages me to change.
Guilt plunges me into a downward spiral of anxiety and depression that makes me wish I were in a coma so I could just have a break from the thoughts in my brain. It doesn’t help me change, it paralyzes me. So I’m trying not to feel guilty as much.
These are the 4 things I’m trying not to feel guilty about lately:
My son drinking dishwater.
Between taking baths and “helping” with the dishes while our dishwasher is broken, this kid has basically drunk more dirty, soapy water in a week than all members of our family in their entire lifetimes combined. But it keeps him occupied. And it’s partly fresh water from the faucet, so it’s not THAT bad, right?
2. My son falling off of things.
BB falls. All the time. He’s not particularly clumsy, just insanely adventurous. Case in point, I whipped out my phone to snap a pic of this ridiculous attempt:
A little feeling told me this is not going to end well, and we all know what happens when we don’t listen to those little feelings. But before the thoughts in my brain could transfer to actions in my limbs I was already snapping a pic of this:
This photo makes me laugh so hard because it looks SO BAD. But I swear to you, he was just fine. It wasn’t even close to the worst fall he’s ever had, and no brain damage yet. We’re honestly worried about that possibility. But before you call CPS or judge me for being neglectful, just know that we’ve raised 4 others who are turning out just fine and we are diligent, DILIGENT, I TELL YOU about keeping this kid safe. But as I said when he was still in the womb and somersaulting his way through those 8 months (Only 8. See? He even busted out of the womb early.) this kid is giving us a run for our money. Too bad there’s no real money involved. We would be earning it.
3. Not going to all of church.
Let’s be honest, people, church with a toddler is harrrrrrd. I still show up every week, but last week I gave up and took BB home so soon into the meeting that we were leaving when other people were still arriving. But hey, kudos to me for having been on time for once! Seriously, though, that’s a big win as I’m always late.
4. Neglecting the needs of all the other kids.
With numbers 1-3 all having to do with BB, our 5th kid, the toddler, the other 4 kids tend to get a little lost in the shuffle. Not because we love them any less, but because BB requires so much dang attention and the older kids are pretty good at taking care of themselves. I just hope they don’t need TOO much therapy when they grow up. But for the record, we do take them out on individual one-on-one “dates” with mom or dad every month, so they’re not completely ignored.
Even though I have plenty that makes me feel guilty every day, I still try to eliminate the guilt by telling myself what I would tell a friend who was in the same situation. You’re doing your best. And you’re doing a great job! All things considered, you’re a freaking rock star, so be proud of yourself. Your kids are all alive and well. So life is not ideal, that’s normal, things happen, no harm, no foul. Besides guys, just take a look at this healthy, happy baby and his family who loves him. Life in a big family may be complicated, but it’s certainly never dull.