I do good guilt

12 Feb

As a new(er) mother (baby’s almost a year old now) with postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety disorder, and OCD, things easily overwhelm me. Diaper changes (more like calf roping at the rodeo). Baths (for me or the baby). Any household chore. Feeding the dog. Getting the baby to sleep. Pretty basic stuff. And there are days when I look at my z-baby and wonder, “what the hell am I supposed to do with him all day?” And then the guilt starts. And it’s good.

I feel guilty for not feeling like I’m 100% able to take care of my baby the way I expected to be (part of the problem may be the expectations we put on ourselves). I feel guilty for not enjoying every second of every day with this miraculous little screecher. I feel guilty for how happy I am every time sig-o takes care of him and gives me a break. I even feel guilty for feeling guilty. But most of all, I feel guilty for complaining about anything — anything — related to the baby. After my miscarriage, I would get furious when I witnessed bad mothering or when I heard moms complain about their kids or not fully appreciate that, hey at least they had kids. I swore I would never be that kind of mom and tried to make deals with the universe to prove it: “please just let us have a healthy baby and I’ll be the best mom to it, I promise.”

And now I’m not the best mom. And I complain (at least in my head because I’m afraid to out loud). And I feel like I don’t always fully appreciate having a baby. And I can’t keep up with everything and get so easily overwhelmed by diaper changes. I mean, really?

I like the way guilt is approached in Buddism, and am trying to apply it to my own life. The Buddhist tradition teaches us (my understanding of it, at least) that dwelling on feelings of guilts keeps us focused on the past, rather than living in the present. Focus on guilt keeps us in a cycle of ego-centric self-loathing, and it’s an obstacle we must overcome on the path to enlightenment. Overcoming means not asking for forgiveness, but instead forgiving yourself. Only then can you find peace and continue on your path. How do you forgive yourself? By recognizing the guilt and pattern itself and releasing it… change things if you can and accept what you cannot.

So can I change that I have postpartum depression that makes me feel like shit? No. Can I get help for that? Yes. Do I have to be everything I expected and wanted to be? No. And I guess that’s part of the motherhood journey. Things change. We change. And some of those things we can change and some we can’t. So for those we can’t, just stop feeling guilty and accept them. Who knows — we may like the change better anyway.

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2 Responses to “I do good guilt”

  1. TiaSal February 27, 2010 at 9:15 pm #

    I love the Buddhist approach to guilt so much! I know this doesn’t really fix the guilt thing – but I have to tell you that while you’re not PERFECT – you are the best mother I’ve ever witnessed mothering. The BEST! And you handle those Rodeo Diaper Changes like a very patient Pro!! ;o)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. You’ve come a long way, baby « The Vaca Loca - April 30, 2011

    […] I do good guilt — really… but what mom doesn’t? […]

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