Every move you make, Every vow you break,
Every smile you fake, Every claim you stake…
I’ll be watching you.
Lyrics from: Every Breath You Take, Sung by: The Police, circa 1983
There never seems to be an unwatched moment in motherhood. Little eyes are forever examining my every move – scrutinizing and studying each look I give, every gesture I make and any words that leave my lips.
Observing and learning.
The longer I parent, the older my children get, the more I see how my kids’ actions often reflect the actions of those who most touch their lives (and obviously I am someone who leaves a daily mark). It turns out, when my own habits are spotlighted, oftentimes my conduct is not necessarily the behavior I hope to teach my children, most noticeably:
How I deal with my own occasional bouts of guilt.
Guilt, I’ve noticed, can be like an infection – if you don’t take care of it right away it often just continues spreading until eventually the original “guilty symptom” feels like only a small scar when compared to everything else you have conjured up to also feel guilty about.
Guilt causes stress, exhaustion, and over-emotional reactions. Guilt is never good for my own heath. What’s more, guilt is definitely not a condition I’d like to to pass down to my children (who are watching me like hawks).
Healing an Outbreak of Guilt
Through my ongoing infectious struggles with guilt I’ve discovered one medicine which systematically helps me beat the infestation. The cure lies in just two words:
If I apply this verbal medicine routinely, along with reminding myself consistently about the observational “side-effects” of guilt-stricken-monitoring children, I find that my symptoms dramatically decrease.
I simply tell myself: It’s okay…
- To have a bad day, because life isn’t perfect.
- To feel frustration, because everyone does (how you deal with the emotion is more important.)
- To take time to exercise, because everyone deserves a healthy outlet.
- To hire a babysitter for a date night, because your relationship IS worth it.
- To occasionally spend too long talking to a friend, because friendship IS also worth it.
(No really, it is!)
- To cry every once in a while, because sometimes it helps you heal.
- To be scared every once in a while, because often this forces you to face your fears.
- To be lazy, because contrary to popular belief – we can’t always be “on” 24-7.
- To feel overwhelmed, because it helps to teach you your limits.
- To occasionally push your limits, because sometimes that becomes a necessity for success too.
Yep, It’s OKAY…
- To follow a passion, because it adds more value to your life (your life IS important).
- To not always have dinner prepared, because sometimes going out to eat IS a better option!
- To sleep in every once in a while, because sleep IS important.
- To accidentally forget about a commitment, because mistakes DO happen.
- What’s more, it’s okay to make mistakes, because often you learn most from your mistakes.
Remember… it’s okay.
I want my kids to know it’s okay, because they too will face these challenges in life. My reactions are giving them insight on how to deal with their own bad move-makin’, vow-breakin’, smile-fakin’, claim-stakin’ selves.
And I can’t teach them it’s okay, if I don’t believe it myself.
More important than the bad days, the frustrated, over-exhausted evenings, and the mornings where I feel I could already use a break – is that my children still know that I love them. That without a doubt, they feel my love, know my love, and that they learn through my own actions that everyone needs and deserves some time to focus on themselves.
Admittedly, I still have relapses, the occasional days of guilt-infested mayhem. Just the like common cold (and regardless of my immune system), guilt sometimes still manages to make an appearance. However the setbacks are getting fewer and further between – especially when I am able to successfully administer my “medication” while also taking note of my tiny-eyed surveyors.
Instead of passing on this disease called guilt,
I’d prefer to prepare my children with a remedy…
An effective treatment that benefits myself, my children and ultimately helps to stop an affliction NO ONE needs in their life. Don’t you think?
Leave a comment: What are you teaching your children about guilt through your own actions? How do you combat the “disease” of guilt? What are some things that you are “okay with” ?