There are times in my life I’ve found myself in a place I had not planned to be. Some of those places and situations were not only ones I didn’t plan on, but ones I had earnestly tried to avoid. Before I knew it, I was there anyway. A few of them I got into by my own actions, not having foreseen that what I was doing would lead me to the place I didn’t want to go. Sometimes I foresaw it but thought, eh, I’ll worry about that later. Then later became now. (And now was awful!) Sometimes I ended up in a situation because of matters completely outside of my control. I was helpless in landing there.
People think like this when they get a big dose of what I call “Mom Guilt” and it’s experienced almost universally by all moms. I’ve been hearing it a lot lately. If you work outside the home, as many of us do out of necessity, you know the impact of this guilt. It’s particularly sickening to feel like you’re missing out on important at home goings on when you’re gone at work and you have no choice in the matter. It doesn’t matter if you miss one thing or a zillion of them, you feel terrible. Or if you’re a stay at home mom who finally gets a much needed break, away from kiddos, then you feel slammed with guilt. It’s not like you’re never allowed to leave but it feels like you shouldn’t when you’re gone. Unfortunately feelings aren’t required to make sense.
Maybe it’s just a place in life. Maybe you’re in a financial place that is akin to a barren wasteland. Maybe you’re depressed because something didn’t turn out like you wanted. Maybe you’re depressed and you have no reason to be depressed at all but you can’t shake it. Maybe your health has taken a hit and you can’t do what you once did. Something life altering has happened and you just can’t get back to who you used to be.
It’s terrible, wishing for who you used to be or for things to be how they once were. The truth of the matter is that we can’t go back. We don’t get to hitch a ride on the Tardis, or hop in the Delorean, and fix wrongs and change our choices. At some point we have to accept the new normal. I think that’s the hardest part, accepting it. Especially when you’d rather stomp on the new normal and sweep it out with the trash because it’s stupid and you hate it. Like a spider.
The truth is there is only one thing we can change, and that’s ourselves. Our attitude about our lives. It may not happen overnight, that kind of change for some people takes (lots of) time. Turns out, my High School Band Director was on the right track when she used to say “attitude is everything”. I may have to get up each morning and say I’m going to ROCK this day at the salt mine (or other job). I’m still breathing, I still have a chance. If you’re working and your kids are home, they’ll remember that mom did what she had to do for them. If your daughter is gonna be a mom someday, she needs to know it’s okay to get a break. She needs to see mom do it. If your son’s gonna have a wife, he needs to know that too. You’re not doing them a disservice, no matter what anyone else tells you. If you’re doing the best you can, just love them when you’re there. It’s not bad to learn that life isn’t perfect.
One other thing, maybe we can’t go backwards, but we can go forward. The person I’ll be tomorrow may be a little more cynical than the one I was yesterday. She may have things she regrets, but she’ll be smarter. Probably she’ll be funnier too.