Guilt Be Gone!
by Jennifer Sey
For Mother’s Day this year I am going to give myself a gift. I don’t generally do this. For birthdays yes, but not Mother’s Day which is generally reserved for kids and dads presenting flowers, homemade cards and breakfast in bed. Don’t get jealous, I’ve never actually been served eggs and coffee in bed, but they show that one on TV a lot so it must be real. Right?
I don’t want bouquets or cards or Denver omelets anyway. I don’t want anything they can give me, truth be told. I’m in need of a little self help as I’m feeling somewhat overworked and overwrought. And so, in the spirit of fiscal conservativism and eco conscious giving, I am going to honor myself with the ultimate bequest: a clear conscience. I am going to release myself from guilty mommy syndrome.
The fires of this affliction are fueled daily. Just last week I met a potential job candidate for an informational interview, a woman with two college aged kids. She recently found herself out of a job, as many have. I asked her what she wanted to do. She said: take a breather, visit with my kids, while poking around to see what might be out there in the way of job opportunities. But not rush into anything. She told me she’d loved her career of the last twenty five years but she regretted having worked so hard when her kids were young. Though their adult relationship hadn’t suffered for it, she felt she had missed too much when they were little.
Dagger in the heart. I’m working my butt off right now. I’m in a new job. Trying to get myself immersed in a new business, meet and motivate a new team. Right a ship that hasn’t been right in a while. It’s a lot to take on but I’m committed. And it’s actually kind of fun – I love a challenge. The steeper the hill, the faster I start climbing. If I need to get in by 7a.m. I do it. If I need to stay until 7p.m. I do it. Ideally not both of those on the same day, otherwise I miss my kids entirely. But it happens on occasion. In fact, just today I took a one day trip to the mid-west. I caught a flight at 6:15 in the morning, returned home (not yet, I’m writing this on the return flight) by 8 in the evening. I’ll get a tuck in if I’m lucky.
After interviewee wounded me as only other mothers can do, I fell into a fiery guilt spiral. I panicked about the summer because I will be traveling for three out of four weeks in June. In a frenzied I need to see my kids panic, I started doing the math on flying home between business trips, to and from NY on red eyes each weekend. The hours and the cost weren’t adding up. I had to face facts. I won’t see my kids for the first few weeks of summer vacation. My husband will shuttle them to and from camp or swimming or whatever activity they are signed up for that week. He will fix and eat dinner with them. And I will talk to them on the phone every night and bring gifts back from wherever I’ve been. Guilt flames fanned, roaring, in fact.
Until, an unexpected but not unwelcome dousing…(forgive me, I’m going to take this fire metaphor all the way)…