TV Tells us to Drop the Guilt.
Parental guilt can be nefarious. It can infiltrate and consume your thoughts when you’re at work or when you’re trying to get some much-needed shut-eye as you try to make a mental list of everything you can’t miss and everything you need to do. It can also propel you to do things you never thought you’d do before you became a parent. Or so two primetime shows said recently.
Take the fictional Christine Campbell, a kooky, divorced owner of a women’s gym played so expertly by Julia Louis Dreyfus on CBS’ The New Adventures of Old Christine. A recent episode found Christine in the vice grip of maternal guilt after an unusually hectic work schedule caused her to miss several of her 12-year-old son’s events, including a reptile birthday party and forgetting the deadline for her son’s application to join a lizard club.
In a highly amusing exchange between Christine and her ex-husband Richard (Clark Gregg), whom she’d asked to watch their son Ritchie (Trevor Gagnon) while she ran out to work again in the evening (after working all day), Richard said he didn’t understand why she always felt so guilty about having a career. “You have to work,” Richard said. “You have to pay for things.”
Later he added, in clueless fashion: “I don’t get guilt . . . It seems like a useless emotion. What is there to be guilty about?”
Christine -- who’d been racing around all day yet still missed Ritchie’s events and tried to make up for it by promising to let him play Wii and use profanity -- rolled her eyes. “Uhh, everything! Missing lizard parties, getting divorced, telling Ritchie he can eat sugar cereal for dinner when I know damn well I finished it this morning!”
Richard, casually eating Christine’s ice cream from the container, said, “I never feel guilty.”
Later in the episode, Christine was coerced into going on a date with the creepy “Reptile Guy” who ran the lizard club in order to get Ritchie into the group after she failed to submit the application on time. When the “Reptile Guy” reneged on their deal at the end of the date, Christine went home to tell Ritchie she was sorry that he wouldn’t be able to join the lizard club because she messed up. Only the boy didn’t care. He’d forgotten all about the lizard club and now wanted her to fill out the form for the chess club . . . which was due the following day.
Moral of the story: Don’t allow yourself to be a guilt-ridden martyr. It’s not pretty.