Monday, February 4, 2013

Guilt and Compromise

It’s no secret that mommies have lots of guilt. Sometimes it sneaks up on you and other times it seeps into and permeates your every thought. Guilt is chronic. It builds up over time and it’s hard to shake.

When we first brought Emily home, everything was new and wonderful and guilt free! People understood that we had a new baby and were supportive. Work and other activities just had to come second. Then the months came and went and the guilt slowly started creeping in. Lately, I’ve started feeling guilty about the oddest things. Mostly I feel guilty about leaving Emily everyday (although she is in great hands and being cared for my loving friends and family). Then I feel guilty when I come home and want to spend time with her but also want time to unwind. I feel guilty that I don’t spend enough time with Randy and then I feel worse when dinner is not cooked and dishes and/or laundry beings to pile up.

Then I go to church or get an e-mail from a friend and feel guilt for not being as involved as I used to be or for keeping up with what’s going on in my friend’s lives. Forget spending time with friends or doing other activities, I can barely keep up with what I have going on now.

I know I have great friends and family that understand, but it’s hard for me to give myself a pass. I know that I can’t do everything but it doesn’t keep me from feeling like I SHOULD be doing everything. I WANT to do a kick ass job at work, come home and make a bang up meal, clean every corner of my house, play with my baby until she falls asleep, spend quality time with my husband, volunteer in my spare time, and have lots of social time with friends.  But I CAN’T do it all.

In the midst of feeling torn in a million different directions, there’s a solution in compromise.  Compromise that’s easier said than done.  First of all, it’s a compromise of what I want do and what I can actually do. Then it’s a compromise of where Randy and I have differing opinions of how we should spend time and resources. Add to that automatic compromise that comes along with having a baby. And to top it all off, making compromises with the external demand that include work, volunteering and social activities. Then compromise seems like an overwhelming, impossible feat.

So I’m starting slow, baby steps when it comes to compromise. I’m learning to let go. And that means of my own expectations and the expectations of others. It’s not realistic to expect that I can do what I could do before Emily or even a few months ago. Life continues to change and evolve and so should our expectations of ourselves and others. Yes, it’s going to made me sad/mad/frustrated/etc. that I can’t do what I could previously do or what I want to do. But I just have to acknowledge those normal feelings and move forward.

And then realize that in letting go, I have before me new opportunities. Because let’s face it, do I really want to keep doing what I’ve always done? Maybe it’s best to look back fondly on those moments and not try to relive or keep alive. There are new experiences to be had and new activities to be involved in. So instead of looking at these situations as doors closed, I should really be looking at them as new road to travel down. And hopefully the people that I love will travel down these roads with me. If not, we’ve had a wonderful journey together and I wish them all the best as they travel down their own path. Because no matter the paths we chose to take, they are our own choices and those of no one else. And wherever our paths take us, the journey is probably much more enjoyable with a lighter load of that guilt off our backs.