It is SO easy to feel guilty as a mom, and, really, in life in general. You know the drill…I don’t read to my kids enough. Why did I have to be dripping with sarcasm and snap back my response? I can’t believe I forgot to call my grandma on her birthday.
Sometimes the smallest interactions replay themselves through my brain as I’m trying to fall asleep at night. They ultimately stem from a lack of patience or a busy day that has left me tired and frazzled for no other reason except that being a working mom is hard. I blame myself for a student having a bad day, for my husband being late to work, or for my own kids having a hard time listening.
I see this quality in my own parents, too. They struggle with decisions they made years ago while raising my siblings and I. I catch them wondering if those decisions are why we have our own beasts to tackle. When they bring these things up, I try to tell them that as we grow, we get to make our own decisions and decide how to tackle our troubles whether they are brand new or haunting us from the past. Sadly, I’m usually unsuccessful at relieving any guilt no matter how hard I try to paint a picture of solace.
The interesting thing about this is that I know my dad could not be more proud of his three kids. We all graduated college. We all hold professional, respected jobs and are able to support our families with more than we will ever need. The three of us are happily married and two of us have healthy, happy kids of our own who we adore. Everyone has their own ideas of success, but I know that my dad sees success in the three different paths his kids have taken. This is this part that actually really made me sad. If my dad blames himself for the negative in my life, shouldn’t he be able to take credit for some of the good and some of the success?
After thinking it over, I brought this thought out to a more general spectrum, and connected it to my life and the lives of those around me. So many people I love and admire are constantly willing to take the blame for the bad things that happen, but they are not nearly as quick (and maybe even frozen) when it comes to recognizing a triumph.
My call isn’t to get everyone to start tooting their own horns over their accomplishments or over their kids, (no reason to get carried away :)but I think we could cut ourselves some slack. Don’t blame yourself for every little thing that goes wrong. It’s inevitable. We get the yin with the yang. There is no such thing as perfection, and we will kill ourselves striving for it.
If you find yourself playing the blame game, I challenge you to find the places in your life where you’ve nurtured positive growth in someone. Did your daughter make a good choice and encourage a lonely student to play today? Maybe it’s because she’s seen you do the same. Did your son hold the door open for another grocery store patron? I’m sure he’s been taught to think of others before himself by someone who sleeps under the same roof. (hint…that’s YOU.)
A little bit of supportive self-talk goes a long way. We owe it to our kids and we owe it to ourselves. It’s ok to see and admit that you’ve planted a seed of goodness. If we could all recognize the positive we’re putting out into the world with a little more confidence, the only thing we’d be doing is creating the opportunity for others to the same.