Guilt or Gratitude – Which do you choose?

I don’t know about you, but Monday mornings in our household bring a lot of excitement and emotion. The weekend is officially over, and it’s back to work, school, and routines.

Sometimes there is gleeful anticipation about the week that lies ahead. Sometimes there is whining about “do I HAVE to go to school today?” And sometimes there are tired morning snuggles that make me ask myself the same thing.

Can you relate?

This week we’re talking about the key pillars high achieving women like you struggle to balance (Work, Family, Self), and why it’s so hard (nearly impossible!) to excel at all three at the same time.

Today, I want to focus on one specific aspect of this trifecta that typically brings the most joy and, let’s face it, the most guilt when we don’t get it right.

Mom guilt, to be more specific.

It’s a serious illness. And for good reason.

If you’re like me, I know you feel guilty. I know you want to be at home while you are at work and at work when you are at home.

I know you don’t think you are doing enough. I know you hate asking for help and you think everyone else is doing it better than you.

I know you feel guilty that you do not clean enough, exercise enough, or sleep enough.

I know you hate that you didn’t chaperone that field trip. That you missed the game or the performance. That you showed up with a store-bought dessert.

I know. I really do. I talk to my clients about it, in various forms, almost daily.

Despite the 243 books you’ve read on parenting and the countless times you’ve been told you are a fabulous mother, you still don’t quite believe it.

Because of the guilt.

The guilt is never ending. It shows up at the most inopportune times, nipping at our heels and tugging at our heartstrings. Some days, the guilt washes over us in giant, ceaseless tidal waves. It crushes us under its weight.

So what’s a woman to do? How do you curb mom guilt?

There is one simple practice I recommend over and over to my clients.

Gratitude.

Gratitude is a near-magical antidote for mom guilt.

Here’s how it works.

Let’s say your husband agrees to take the kids bowling while you have lunch with a friend on a Saturday. Instead of ruining lunch by dissolving into a puddle of guilt, text your husband a picture of you and your bestie with a heartfelt THANK YOU for helping make it happen. Tell him how much you appreciate that he took the kids to do something fun. Use your guilt to fuel your gratitude.

Your parents offer to take your children for a week during the summer. Don’t politely decline. Instead, pack those kids up and then sit down and write your parents a letter telling them how very much this gift of time means to you. Be honestly effusive. Don’t hold back – pour on the gratitude.

A friend offers to drive your daughter to and from dance lessons this week. Don’t be the martyr who turns down her offer. Instead, give her a giant HUG when you meet her in the driveway. Thank her for being such an angel! Tell her how much you appreciated the extra effort! Shower that gal with gratitude.

Mom guilt rears its ugly head when you believe you are the only one who can do it. That you have to do everything yourself. That you have to be everywhere.

But gratitude grounds you. It upends guilt by gently reminding you that you are a part of something bigger than yourself. That you and your children are in a community. That there are people who are delighted to be a part of their lives if you’ll let them. That there are gifts buried in these moments when you are not there for them and someone else is.

In those moments you have a choice. Guilt or gratitude.

You hold the power to channel your emotional energy out of guilt and into gratitude.  You can wallow in misery berating yourself for not being enough, or you can make someone’s day by telling them how amazing they are.

Guilt weighs you down. Gratitude lifts someone else up.

The choice is yours.

 

This is based on a blog post originally published on May 17, 2016

 

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