Recently I read a book called “The Erotic Silence of the American Wife” by Dalma Heyn. She also wrote the book “Marriage Shock”. Both are describing the transformation we women go through when we marry and have children – the martyrs we turn into. Why do we do it? A huge-society-full-on-press of “should” thinking. We are just as guilty of it as men, the media and other women. We judge ourselves especially hard, and we judge other women : looks, behavior of their children, clean house, hours of volunteering, bitchy attitude, needy, whatever….we are constantly comparing how we measure up….on what we think we should be doing. That is the foundation of guilt. It’s that simple.
“I just smile and nod my head while they chat on about what I should be doing – in reality I’m daydreaming the whole conversation away. My mom and sister are really good at laying on the guilt and worry thick. It used to really get me down, but I know what I need for myself and for my kids. My advice to you is ‘Trust your gut!’” ~Lisa
Who besides you has walked in your shoes? NO ONE! I have two SPED (SPecial EDucation) kids, and a whole host of past experiences, so I know for a fact that my shoes only fit me. Why should I feel guilty about that? Where is that logic? My parents, my childhood, my job experiences, my marriage, my pregnancies, my hometown, my children, my dreams, my hopes, my secret desires – all of these things guarantee that you can’t wear my shoes. You may have shoes that are similar to mine and we can, together, easily understand how the toes or heels can rub, or how good they look with a pair of jeans, but when it comes down to it we have different shoes. So, right off, I know that any guilt the outsiders are trying to place on me just won’t stick.
Let go of the whole “I’m a martyr thing” because you’re just in line with the rest of us. No amount of giving from you will compensate for your child having their disability. I tried it for years, and my kids are still disabled. You can’t overcome the guilt by giving more of yourself. I know what you’re trying to do and that’s not how the world works. There is no scale like that to make things balanced.
Think with your head. That is hard for women to do but I’m asking you to trust me. And I’m saying you need to straighten up – I feel your pain but I don’t feel sorry for you. The world is still revolving and you need to get moving. Wallowing in guilt is a life killer. Think real hard about who you are and what you want to be. Yeah, your kids need you, no doubt about that, but they need you for the long haul. You don’t see marathon runners sprinting the whole race, so why are you giving 180% to everyone else right this minute? Ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing? What is your motivation?
“I found that the Big Rock system (Franklin Covey Priority Weekly Compass) works for me. I have these little sheets I fill out and carry with me so I can check to see that I’m not wandering off and getting over my head in stupid stuff. At first my chest hurt thinking I was leaving out things that so many people expected of me. But after a month of forcing myself to only do the Big Rocks each day, the guilt lifted and my heart felt lighter, and I found I enjoyed myself and my kids more. I could play with them for an hour, then let go and do something else on my list. I didn’t need to be with my kids each minute. And you know what? They were okay with it!!! They had their Mommy time quota. They learned to play on their own. Looking back, guilt is shit and unproductive. Oh, can I say shit? Edit that.” ~Sarah (yes, Sarah, you can say “shit”)
As for the guilt of your child’s diagnosis…It’s done. You can’t change the DNA now. Living guiltily in the past for some mistake you may or may not have made can’t move you forward, not even one inch. You can learn from the past, but it’s the actions you take today that actually move you toward something.
What you need to decide is…..what is that something you’re moving towards? It’s not an easy question. Along the way, many of us detoured off the path of our dreams. And some of us were never on one, just floating through life without a purpose. Which is perfectly fine, and sounds somewhat lovely at times, but how do you know when you’re lost if you don’t know where you’re going? Every parent who I talk to believes that having a something to move towards is what keeps us focused and sane among the doctor appointments, physical therapy sessions, and complete screaming meltdowns at the grocery store.
Next week come armed with a piece of paper and your pencil (or the crayon your child just rolled under the couch). We’re going on a treasure hunt for the jewels of your life = goals!!
With a little laughter each day, all my best to you,