No offense to Ben Franklin but there’s more than two things for certain in life- especially if you’re a mother. Death and taxes seems like a manageable and accurate list until the first night you decide to let the baby “cry it out”, forget parent teacher conferences or not miss them when you get a night out with adults. You then experience that third inevitable consequence of life… GUILT!
I wear this little adjective well. It’s an accessory I seldom leave the house without. Though this accessory is nothing like a Tiffany Bracelet. Guilt is more like the annoying co-worker who won’t stop whining about her love life when all you can think about is how you yelled at your kids before school because they wouldn’t get the lead out and caused you to be late for a meeting. It just hovers ignoring your inner pleas to cease and desist.
The past few days I have fielded calls from several friends who –on the verge of tears- told me how their children were going to wind up in therapy because of sub par parenting. They felt guilty. And why do they feel guilty. Because it’s what a mom does best. If it takes a village to raise a child, it only takes one child to drive the village of moms to drink.
One friend had reached her breaking point on the way to school. Her girls had been at it all week and this particular morning was no exception. It wasn’t enough that she was trying to referee a death match between her girls from the front seat but she noticed the needle of her gas gauge resting on E.
She stopped off at the gas station filling the tank with the money that was originally earmarked for her oldest child’s college tuition. After going in to pay the attendant she walked outside to find her SUV shaking like a scene from Jurassic Park. When she opened the car door one child was screaming, the other, sitting silent with scratch marks all over her face. “What are they thinking?!” she shouted over the phone.
She dropped the kids at school but not before giving them a piece of her mind. No sooner did the words; “DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME? Now have a good day, I love you.” leave her mouth that she felt the onset of guilt. As she pulled away her face felt hot. Then came the lump in her throat. As the puddle of tears sloshed on the floorboard she couldn’t imagine what those precious -yet irritating- children must be going through at school.
Before the end of the conversation we we’re laughing. Especially when I assured her the only thing her kids were thinking during her rant was, “what can I say to shut her up.” They didn’t actually hear the words just the volume.
That very same day I got a call from another friend who left her children in charge of packing their own lunch. When she asked what they had packed, her youngest proudly shared his bounty. “HE HAD TWO PACKS OF OREOS, A JELLO AND TRAIL MIX!” She was furious and embarrassed that left to their own devices, her children would live on a constant diet of cookies, candy and cake. Their poor diet choices, she thought, was her fault.
It wasn’t until I told her the story about a little boy my sister knew. His mother had let him pack his lunch also. Later in the day she got a call from the schools principal concerned about what was in the little boy’s lunch box. She explained how she knew he probably had nothing but junk but they were in a hurry and she let him pack his own. After a few moments of silence the principal said, “We’re not calling about the junk food. We’re calling about the can of beer he packed.”
Usually I’m the one who needs reassuring when it comes to those bouts of guilt that plague most moms. But this time I was glad to be the one who helped a few friends get through that third little inevitable in life. Death and Taxes? They’ve got nothing on the power of guilt. But then again, guilt has nothing on the power of friendship and laughter.
Becky Andrews can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgTelling Tales
Angel Kane and Becky Andrews live in Wilson County. This is their story (or tale) about their life, families and times that they share. Besides their weekly column Telling Tales Angel and Becky Co Founded Wilson Living Magazine. The idea of developing a magazine for Wilson County first came to Becky and Angel one afternoon while they sat on her back porch watching their children play in the backyard.
They were discussing the outpouring of emails, calls and responses to their column “Telling Tales” and wanted to find a way to capture that community spirit. People were stopping them wherever they went to share their own “tales.” They suddenly realized everyone has a story to tell and many of these stories were amazing. And in that moment, Wilson Living Magazine came to life. Be sure to check out Wilson Living Magazine at www.wilsonlivingmagazine.com
You can contact Angel at email@example.com - You can contact Becky at firstname.lastname@example.org