Friday, March 22, 2013

The Antidote to Guilt

Guilt.  What a conniving little thief!  The past four days of frantic packing have seen our two-year-old watching more shows than she’s ever watched before :-)  Elmo, Lady and the Tramp, Baby Einstein, Veggie Tales, you name it, she’s been enjoying it.  Don’t get me wrong, she hasn’t been in front of the TV 6 hours a day or anything like that, just a whole lot more than normal.

I know she’d rather be running around outside or playing a game with her mommy; but at 7 months pregnant, with meals to cook from scratch, bags to pack, and an entire apartment to clean out… well, I’ve had other things overflowing my plate.  The thing is, it’s just a week.  Life has phases, and this is a busy, busy one.  I know that, but still I feel guilty.  Every day, every double click that starts another show, giving me just enough time to pack a suitcase or clean out a closet or wash a mountain of dishes – guilt!  

This morning my friend Janera came over to help me pack.  We’re leaving tomorrow and right now we’re at the end of the road, find a spot to stick this, don’t forget about these 12 essential things, phase.  My friend was eager to help, but I was getting so frustrated by spending longer to decide and explain how and why and where things needed to go than it would’ve taken for me just to do it myself.  Meanwhile Savannah was busy unpacking every box I packed, so I started another show.  Guilt.  Guilt looking at my child, sitting on the couch; guilt looking at my friend, clueless as to how to help.  Guilt.  

Then inspiration!  I turned off the show, turned to my confused toddler and said, “How would you like to go run around outside with Janera?”  She jumped off the couch and ran to get her shoes with my friend Janera right behind her, laughing.  I smiled and got back to work in the kitchen.

About an hour later I heard the sweetest giggle and looked out the window to see Savannah and Janera having a great time.  Savannah was running and jumping and laughing and Janera was right behind her, cracking up at Savannah’s antics.  Right in that moment I felt freedom.  Everyday is not going to be endless hours of story time and imaginative play with my toddler, with decadent meals simmering on the stove of my immaculate kitchen, especially with another little one on the way.  I don’t usually think like that.  But in times when I’m stressed out, when guilt rears its ugly head and that image of perfection taunts me, I need to learn to let go so that I can make room for gratefulness.  

Playing in her room with Janera about a month ago.  Yes, she is inside her toy box, and yes, pretty much every toy she owns is out :-)

When I heard my daughter’s glee I remembered how grateful I am that Savannah has so many people who love her and want to be part of her life.  How grateful I am that she will have memories of friends on different continents.  How grateful I am that she gets to travel around the world and consider it normal.  And in order to make all of those things a reality in her life there are going to be times where I’m crazy busy and she watches more shows or where a friend runs around with her outside.

Smelling flowers in an African jungle.

Feeding her pet deer.

So here’s my decision – from now on I’m not going to let guilt rob me of gratefulness.  I’m not going to focus on the things that my children won’t have and miss the wonderful blessings that they do have. 

My sweet girl giving kisses to her pregnant mommy :-)


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