"Maybe there's more we all could have done, but we just have to let the guilt remind us to do better next time." -Veronica Roth, Divergent
|They have fun, right?|
Before I left on this most recent business trip, my youngest said to me (jokingly, I hope), “If you leave baked goods for us, we’ll remember that you love us.”
I left for California early on Sunday morning, a time when many families are having breakfast and preparing for worship together. My broken-homed kids were at their dad’s house. The day before, I had spent in a whirlwind. I cleaned my house, dropped bake sale items off at the high school, ran errands, took my visiting mother to breakfast, attempted to assemble a bookcase, baked two loves of pumpkin bread and Halloween cupcakes (complete with spider and gruesome hand toppers because deep down, I kind of believed what Thing 2 said about the baked goods) and volunteered at the band competition until 9:30 pm. When I came home, I cleaned a little more, stuffed money into an envelope for my pet-sitter, started packing my bags and crossed a couple of last-minute work items off my list. When I finally fell into bed, exhausted, at midnight, I set my alarm for 4 a.m. so I could get up and finish my packing before my early flight.
I then set off across the country, worked in the airport and on the flight (on a Sunday, no less) and tried to remember what I had forgotten to leave for the window contractors who were coming to my house in my absence. I raced from the airport directly to a trade show. Then back to my hotel room to finish a presentation my boss needed for Monday morning. I fell asleep sitting up in my hotel room with my laptop open after what amounted to a 16-hour workday.
I forgot to put money in my kids’ lunch account so I got an abbreviated text from my eldest. “Put money on my lunch account.” OK. Done. I tried to ignore the guilt for missing picking him up from band practice and my youngest son’s double and stolen home base at the baseball game. Mondays are MY days, after all. I should have been there.
It seems as if my life is often a series of “I should have” or “I have to” or “I’m going to” or “I need to” phrases. I spend much of my time feeling guilty for not working enough, not paying enough attention to my kids, not cleaning my house well enough, not weeding my garden, not cleaning my car, not taking my dogs on walks, not making the decision to put my poor elderly cat to sleep…the list goes on and on and on.
So I bake. I clean. I shuffle. I run. I cajole. I volunteer when I can. I work hard to keep the guilt at bay. And I do a little bit here and a little bit there but I never do anything really well. I often think that we women REALLY SHOWED THEM when we started working outside the home. We managed to get the full time jobs outside the house while maintaining a full load in the house. We juggle marriage (well, not me so much anymore), kids, jobs, household duties and extracurricular activities while lamenting (bragging?) to each other about how busy we are.
I am overloaded with the stress. I don’t even do half of what many of my friends do. And still I am burdened by all the guilt above compounded by the fact that I am not giving my kids what they really need: me. Because what they need, when it comes down to it, isn’t baked goods. What they need, more than anything, is their parents.
Meanwhile, I’m 30,00 feet over Memphis. For now, the cupcakes will have to do the trick. I am on my way, boys. I am on my way.
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