So I’m laying in the bed, literally two seconds ago. And I’m not thinking nice things like, I get paid tomorrow, or how much easier my job is with the re-organized teams (more demanding, yes, but an easy for me kind of demanding), not about how I get to go sing tomorrow night.
I am seriously, SERIOUSLY, feeling guilty. Do you know what I am feeling guilty about? Sit back in your chair, cross one leg over the other, now look at me expectantly. I feel guilty about some things that I left in Traverse City when we moved. Yep. That’s it. A dresser that I got from a wonderful lady named Rosemary whom I used to work with in GH, I carried that dresser with me for years. From Strawberrypointe, to Casey, to TC. And then I abandoned it because I am really bad at a) timing moves to coincide with actually having any money and b) figuring out how big the truck should be to move a family of four, all of the memories and stuff they have accumulated in almost ten years, and their hopes and dreams. Turns out you need a pretty big truck. So now I feel guilty about that too.
And the merry ground keeps going, nice and slow, it knows I can’t watch the fast ones or I get sick. Suddenly I’m worried about Ave and if she will be moved on to first grade. Pretty sure that if she doesn’t it will be my fault. Guilt. And we’re on to Kaia talking about raising money for her school trip to Chicago with a fundraiser. And I feel conflicted and guilty because, on the one hand, I want to just pay for it. But that would make me feel guilty because she didn’t earn the trip. But if I make her earn the trip I feel guilty that I could have just paid for it. And honestly folks? Pizza Kits, Janie’s Cookie Dough? Whatever it is, it is a pain in my ass.
Now I’m swearing on my blog.
Guilt runs in the family. I remember how we’d go over the river and through the wood to grandmother’s house. And she would know we were coming, but suddenly, I picture this occurring to her about 30 minutes prior to our arrival, she decides that the visit will not be a success if ALL THE ROOMS are not vacuumed, and the shower tiles polished. So she gets out her cotton house dress. And she vacuums ALL THE ROOMS. She scrubs the tile. I imagine my grandfather looking on from his little office across from the cat sheets room. He is shaking his head. He knows he can’t talk her out of it. No matter how forcefully he says, DOT, HONEY, DOT. She’ll wave him off. And then we’ll arrive. A writhing of mass of people surging up the stairs, and I will throw myself at her and hug her neck.
Her hair will be damp with perspiration. She will tell me she’s sorry she’s all sweaty! She hasn’t even changed her clothes! But you’re here! You’re here, she will crow with delight. But she feels guilty that her hair is wet, that is she is still in her housecoat, and the company has arrived.
She will take us down the hall and open the bedroom closet, and show us the small things she has been saving for us. But we shouldn’t let the others know because she bought three things for me and only two for the other. And she doesn’t want anyone to feel bad, or to feel left out. She wants to buy everyone a Christmas gift on Christmas, even though as her family unit swells to more than 40, EASY, more than 40; that seems like kind of a lot. But she has to or she’ll feel bad.
My mom can be this way too. Everything has to be even. What is spent for gifts, spent for time. Even Steven, all the time.
So I know come by it naturally. And I don’t know what it says about me. Am I self centered and narcissistic to believe I am to blame, personally, ONLY ME, if Ave doesn’t go to first grade, as the youngest in her class, born only seven days before the cutoff for enrollment? If I feel guilty because Rosemary gave me that dresser and I left it? Because the move turned out to be such a disaster? Because I hate school fundraisers?
I don’t know. I have no clever way to turn this about and make it seem like I am ok and sending you a wonderful message about living GUILT FREE and FORGIVEN; or what have you. I just don’t. I am not feeling clever.
I am like you, though, I hope. I am neurotic in my own little ways. I have my little things that I need to do in order. I have the same place in the chancel where I need to sit on Sundays. I open my computer software systems in the same order EVERY DAY. And I have such amazing guilt. Such a complex. Would Rosemary care about that dresser? Would she even remember?
Probably not. It was a long time ago, I was probably 19. I feel the loss of it I think, and I am letting the guilty feelings mask the fact that it was one small piece of the very small collection of items that were mine when I was 19, and thus meant something deeply emotional to me. So I feel bad that I cast it away, that I couldn’t make room for that piece.
I used to feel bad at night too, that all of my stuffed animals couldn’t sleep with me. They took turns, and I tucked all the other ones in nice and snug. But I still felt bad.
Will everyone blame me if Ave doesn’t proceed to first grade? Have I read ALL the sightword books every night? Have I drilled her on the actual sightwords themselves twice a day and four times on Saturday? Did I go over the math sheet that had about half wrong answers the very minute I took it out of her backpack. No. No. I haven’t. I didn’t. I honestly didn’t. I have 2.45 hours between the time I get out of work and the time the cat herding of bedtime begins. And I don’t claim to spend that time snuggling under hand knit blankets, or playing endless games of Uno, because that would not be true. I spend that time trying to talk to my husband, I spend that time trying to make dinner, to clean up the house (for the 60th time that day). I spend it coaxing kids out of the tub (yes, they will get in, out is another story). I spend it writing, or reading whatever I am reading. Sometimes I might play Candy Crush (you all know how long five lives last right?). I feel like this makes me lazy and selfish. That I have done all of those things and not the THREE IMPORTANT things that will help Ave. Guilty.
So I don’t know. I head to conferences this month with my tail between my legs, feeling certain of the news I will receive and how I will be blamed and judged. And I will put on a brave face and somehow convince Ave that it’s an opportunity! Big Smile! That is my worst case scenario anyway. I once told my mother, that her best bet was to envision and accept the worst case, because it almost never gets that bad.
And I guess maybe I should take my own advice.
Anyway. That you for your expectant look, for finding out probably for the first time ever (NOT) that I am flawed, and selfish, and imperfect, SO neurotic, and that I am guilty.
I think I may be able to sleep now.
The guilt that mothers shoulder, at least the mother I’ve had, grandmother I’ve had, is, at times a very heavy burden. But you’ve been a dear friend and let me rest for a while.
And for that, I thank you.