What could be that thing?
Tell me, is it the ring .....of guilt?
Guilt is a funny emotion isn't it? I mean, what worries us and what we spend most of our waking hours feeling guilty about.
This post is actually inspired by my two cats, who, after a mammoth meal prepared for them by their loving human slaves, and a short turn round the garden to ensure that their territory still exists, slink inside and enjoy nothing more than a good sleep. Sometimes, it's literally a cat nap. And at other times, it's a luxuriant few hours. There's no timetable, no pressure, no fuss. They live in the moment, or, rather, sleep in the moment, and then wake, stretch happily and go about what's left of their day.
But what about us? Why can't we do that? Have you ever noticed how, if at the weekend, you have a lie in you feel guilty for wasting the day? Or, if you wake up early, feel that you have to cram a few jobs in? Then you get stressed about doing too much. Yet if you tell yourself to relax and watch TV, or read a book, I bet you feel guilty for not growing eight arms and texting, cleaning, sorting and making a list at the same time. Or you might buy something nice for yourself and then spend ages defending it....how many times have you said "well, I deserve a treat" or you eat something "naughty" and then feel guilty. By the way, as an aside, anyone who makes you feel guilty about food should be held down and force fed an entire bucket of KFC barbecue beans.
And, when it comes to guilt, no one does it better than a woman. If it was an Olympic sport we'd all be lugging gold medals around (but then we'd have to clean the bastards....another job to add to the never ending effing list) And, as I'm fast discovering, being a mum brings with it a nice big shiny new bag to pack some more nice toxic, guilt into. That's not your baby's changing bag, you bleary eyed sleep deprived fool! That's your bag of guilt to heave around. (But, as a time saver, you can have it as a changing bag, because then you'll take it with you everywhere). Hey, there's no escaping the guilt when it's all strapped to that pram!
So, here's what we, as women, collectively, heave around in that bag: in no particular order. See how many you recognise:
Compared to the women in (insert name of crap celebrity magazine here) I'm not slim enough/pretty enough/successful enough
I should exercise more and lose weight
I don't see my husband/partner enough
I don't see my friends enough
I should only give my baby/child organic food
I should eat better
I should have time for an improving hobby
I should spend less
I have to go back to work and I feel guilty OR I don't have to work and I feel guilty Or I feel guilty because I enjoy work now I've had my baby because it's nice to talk to someone who talks back
My child is in a nursery and I feel guilty even though it's a good one
The house should be cleaner/tidier. In fact, it should resemble Ideal Homes
I should wear nice clothes all the time
I should be super organised all the time, and never forget a birthday
I should read an improving book
I should cook/bake regularly
I compare myself to other people
I should give more to charity (this last point is inspired by the fact is now can't watch a Save The Children or Great Ormond Street Hospital advert without bursting into tears)
In short....we end up with this: ..I feel like I'm failing, every day, a day at a time. I can't win.
God, what a state we're in. And it's mostly brought on ourselves. And, in my view, by people only putting the best of the shop window of their lives on the social media we're all obsessed by, and the magazines we buy, even though they're bad for us if we try to do everything in them. I'm not saying don't buy them, just bear in mind that as you hand over your fiver, they're aspirational, and full of adverts and carefully crafted photo shoots where a team of designers have spent hours tweaking a model/table/castle/outdoor location so that we sigh at what seems like an effortlessly achieved look. A bit like too much chocolate, it's wonderful, but leaves you feeling slightly out of sorts after. Come on - do you ever cartwheel across the sand on holiday on a beach occupied only by you and your perfect specimen of a boyfriend, you wearing a designer bikini with perfectly painted toenails and an even, all over tan? Or have time to create a winter wonderland in your home at Christmas? Or laugh at the wonder of life as you walk through the country lanes of your second home, trug in hand? Or create detox salads? Or craft a table runner?
Of course not. Because you, my dear woman, have a life. A real, imperfect, life. And do you know what? Baby or no baby, job or no job, partner or no partner, you're doing okay :)