I had a friend over last Friday. Within seconds of them entering the house, our boys disappeared upstairs to take apart all the toy boxes. Our girls played games and watched a great, girl movie, Penelope. My friend and I, we sat in the living room (which no one really lives in), hid from the kids, and talked for the duration of the movie. I need to do more of this. Parenting is hard work alone. It seems everything snaps into perspective when I spend time with other mommies, especially one with twice as many kids. Especially really straightforward, intelligent, and compassionate mommies. What a treat.
My blog came up once. I confessed that I don’t write much. Often the frequency of my posts correlate to how clean my eating has been. With my aspirations of eating mostly raw vegan foods, and clean, wholesome foods all the time, I’m a little embarrassed to write when I’m having a tough time. So, when I’ve had a week like this last one, a week when I ate the whole house down, I’m not thinking about Raw Vibe so much. She laughed. I was tense. She laughed louder. Then I did, too. I didn’t feel so bad about eating the whole house down. Obviously, the house was still standing, and so was I.
Guilt can be a powerfully destructive force. Perhaps the discomfort of a little guilt might keep one on the right path. Like say – I lost it, yelled at the kids. Saw their hurt faces. Felt bad. Felt guilty. Apologized. Hugged them. Kissed them. Gave them chocolate (just kidding, well, maybe once or twice). Resolved to try harder to let the intensity of my emotions pass so I can communicate better. A little guilt can help keep me strive to parent more compassionately. When trying to eat better food, on the other hand, I’m afraid that a little guilt escalates into an all out war on my body.
In cleaning my office, I began to unpack boxes that have been sitting around since I moved (about three years ago – ugg). In one of them were my old journals from middle school. About 50% of the entries were something like, “Dear Journal, I feel so guilty about not writing in my journal so I decided to write, but of course it is late so I have to go, leaving with you the promise of writing tomorrow. Bye.” 25% were about boys. (At 12! Did I have no other interests? I’m so glad I’m homeschooling my gorgeous daughter! I don’t think I could handle catching her necking with a boy. Do people even say necking anymore?) The other 25% of entries were logs of what I ate, my workouts, and my weight. At 13! Yikes! There was a lot of feeling guilty going on then. If I was writing something, I was feeling guilty. If I was celebrating one thing, I was feeling guilty about another thing.
Now at 45, I’m still writing the same crap. Well, not so much about boys, unless I count my little one – who’s amazing. Every time I sit down to write, I want to apologize for not writing. Instead of writing the apology, I look at my screen with a gazillion open windows, and pause to let the apology pass before I let my fingers hit the keys. I want to write my food log. My workout record. My daily weight. I still am searching for that something hidden within that pile of trivial data that will release me from this obsession.
Guilt. Still every day, something to feel guilty about.
The amazing thing is, after laughing on the couch with my friend, imagining how absurd that phrase is, “I ate the whole house down”, I felt so much relief. Big deal. Resigning myself to feeling guilty is so pointless. The house didn’t come down, and nor did I. Guilt doesn’t motivate me to do better. Letting go of guilt, lightening up, moving on, now that’s motivating.