Feb 5, 2018

5 Kinds of Guilt

Life may have joy in it again, but it's not all rainbows and sunshine!  On a serious note, I definitely think being a parent has made me more aware of the many different forms and manifestations guilt can take.  So obviously we need to start with...

1. Mom Guilt

Moms feel guilty about everything from using formula to putting their kids in daycare.  It's like the moment the baby pops out, our brains lose all ability to silence that doubting inner voice that tells us we're doing everything wrong.

I think the underlying emotion behind this guilt is fear.  We're afraid that we're not good enough, that we'll fail our children, that this choice will be wrong and will ruin everything.  Being physically capable of producing a child does not in any way mean you're capable of being a good parent and our brains like to remind us of this every time a new decision needs to be made.

2. Spouse Guilt

I actually think Ryan might be suffering from this more than I do, but in our case it's the acknowledgement that with a baby and work and trying to snatch a few solitary minutes of non-productive time, we really don't spend much time together anymore.  Doing nice things for each other is definitely on the backburner and our main relationship goal is to not fall apart, rather than to soar the heights of romantic love.

I often feel guilty when I get irritable with Ryan for no good reason, and underneath the guilt is a sense of cranky petulance.  I almost resent the fact that here is another thing I need to feel guilty about.

3. Pet-owner Guilt

The dogs haven't been out to run in weeks and, honestly, they're not even getting walked regularly.  We tried going on a family walk recently, which ended in a pink-cheeked, screaming baby because it was uncomfortably cold out even with his jacket and blankets.  I could walk them during the day when I work from home and the baby is at daycare, and I should.  Scrambling to keep up with client projects is no excuse, even on a week particularly full of networking events and client meetings.

This guilt is, I think, the most pure because there's no sense of "the world will explode because I didn't do this" the way there is with the baby, and I don't feel irrationally angry at the dogs because they are innocent beasts who have no control over my actions.  I just feel bad that I'm not a better dog-mom to them.

4. Friend Guilt

I'm not currently a good friend.  I showed you guys my value chart and social was last and is often traded out for "me time."  It's just not a priority and while I'm sorry, I also know I'm not willing to change that while my business and baby are still so young.  I just have to hope that my friendships will survive on the scraps of time I throw at them and that I can nourish them a little better in the future.

This guilt is heavily overladen with exasperation and exhaustion.  This person needs what now?  Someone's mad about what stupid reason?  Why does anyone have time to care about any of these things?  Can't we just get coffee and say nice things to each other???

5. Health Guilt

I should take better care of myself, but... [insert excuse here].  The chocolate was beckoning, I had a client meeting during my usual exercise time, I was too tired to get up early, it was too cold out.  The list of excuses is never-ending.  This guilt is usually easily silenced with a book and some junk food, which keeps the vicious cycle going.  For me it's associated with a feeling of rebelliousness.  Yes, I know X choice is better for me, but I do what I want!  Get off my back!!!

Quick recap:

  • Mom Guilt = Fear of Impending Doom
  • Spouse Guilt = Cranky Petulance
  • Pet-owner Guilt = Normal Guilt
  • Friend Guilt = Exasperated Exhaustion
  • Health Guilt = Rebellion

What does guilt feel like for you?

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