I felt like I was on autopilot, just going through the motions, as I rushed through the motions of after-camp business after a long day at work.
I’ll be honest — I don’t remember much of my interactions with my kids that evening, just a tired, “Good night, I love you,” as I trudged downstairs, getting my own stuff ready for the next day, before I allowed myself to collapse.
Guilt. It’s one of those pervasive emotions that can stick with you, isn’t it?
Guilt when you work. Guilt when you don’t.
Guilt when you put 110% at your job, and then come home drained to your kids. Guilt when the opposite happens, because you can’t put that much of yourself everywhere.
Guilt that you spend too little quality time with your family.
Guilt that you are spending too much time with your family, and not enough time with friends.
Guilt that you want alone time.
Guilt when your favorite part of the evening with your kids is bedtime because you’ve just had an exhausting day.
Guilt that you can’t be everything to everyone.
Guilt, guilt, guilt.
The list can go on and on.
I focused this list on parenting, but guilt is a universal emotion. If we let it, it can eat away at the very essence of who we are. And it’s not fair — not to us, not to our kids, not to our families, not to our loved ones.
Yet, it’s so easy to say that. There is so much pressure to be perfect in every aspect of our lives, everywhere we turn. It’s perpetuated by social media, by experts in different fields, and sometimes, by the very people in our lives (unknowingly or otherwise).
I believe that it’s important to filter what we hear and see, and ‘take it with a grain of salt,’ as my grandfather would say to me as a kid.
You are the expert on yourself, on your child — nobody can tell you the best way to love your life or raise your children. People can and often do offer advice, tips, strategies — it usually winds up being a mix of different ideas that works best. I know that I’ve said that when offering up my own advice — and I hope that by reiterating it here it sinks in.
At the end of the day, remember-nobody is perfect. We are born as works in progress. Our contributions to the world, the impact we have on the lives of others, the very essence of who we are is dependent on the unique footprint of our differences that are based on our imperfections.
There is no room for guilt. Only acceptance.
Lauren Brukner is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Certified Screener for Irlen Syndrome/Scoptic Sensitivity, and an Integrated Listening Systems Practitioner. She is the author of The Awesome and In Control Series (Jessica Kingsley Publishers). Blog: www.awesomeandincontrol.com
This article was featured in Issue 55 – Celebrating with the People We Love