Even before kids entered our lives, I had an astounding amount of guilt. I should have done this differently at work, I should have studied harder for that test at school, I should have called my grandparents more often before they passed away…guilt. When the kids did come, guilt feelings hit harder times a million and clashed all over the place.
The revolving door of guilt. Guilt never really goes away, it just goes around, and around and around. There’s always something to feel guilty about. By doing one thing (or not doing one thing), it affects other things. It takes away from other things. Choosing to hang out with friends, I take away from spending time with my family. I feel like I’m losing…a lot.
There are so many different kinds and forms of guilt. One of the most obvious kinds when you have kids : parental guilt. This is one I feel like is 24/7. Forgetting to pack their favorite snack in their lunch (and thinking about their sad face when they go to open it), even things that are totally not in our control like a rash. Forgetting their favorite toy that you left on vacation. Having to miss their band performance because of a business trip. Really, the list is endless when it comes to children.
Then there is relationship guilt. This is the guilt you feel when you feel torn in a bunch of directions. Spending time with this person or group means you limit the time with this other person or group. It could be the spouse, it could be your parents, your siblings, your friends, co-workers or extended family. Having kids already puts a time limit on about anything. I have found that my relationships in particular have had to change or be altered – meaning, I usually have less time to see and spend time with anyone outside our immediate family. Which, let’s go ahead and applaud social media right now because that’s how I easily stay in contact with a lot of people without maybe feeling some guilt! I am thankful for advanced technology that allows us to stay in touch pretty easily than having to take a paper and pen out.
I will call the rest Miscellaneous guilt. This can be school or work related guilt. I should have done this, so that this didn’t happen guilt. Even if I took out the children factor, there’s always something I feel guilty about everyday. Every.Day.
One of my goals for this year was to try hard and eliminate the “guilty feelings”. To understand that not everything is in my control and that frankly, life happens sometimes. I also try to remind myself that some of the guilty feelings will be temporary- once the children grow older, I will have more time to put into my relationships. The other key word that comes to my mind is “grace”. Most of the time, we’re all juggling all these different things, that sooner or later a ball is bound to drop. Expect it, and forgive yourself. Give yourself some grace.