The Gravitas of Guilt

Oh Gravity is working against me,
And gravity wants to bring me down.
Oh twice as much ain't twice as good,
And can't sustain like a one half could.
It's wanting more
That's gonna send me to my knees.
~ John Mayer, "Gravity"
Guilt is an annoying, heavyset sidekick. Obtusely thinking us moms don't know he's there, he enjoys strolling along silently during our morning walks; he awaits breathlessly as we check our emails and make coffee; and Guilt loves, more than anything, to show up when he's least wanted--during meetings, while we read magazines and books, and at really freakin cool cafes...

Guilt, in fact, just peered over and made me feel the need to tell you fine people that I am blessed and gleeful to have healthy, happy babies, dammitt! He doesn't want me to write about him, and says I should not complain. Man, Guilt, you're good. You are, in fact, making me come across as a crazy and neurotic blogger from Hell right now.


But I'm done with you, Guilt. Maybe you need to hang out with Regret and Pissed Off and go have yourselves a Corona. Or six. Each. I'm buying. Maybe you'll come back as Happy, Thankful, and Cool Wit It Yo. Then we can talk.

The one thing that surprises me the most, perhaps, about being a mom is the guilt involved. With everything. I was reminded of this recently when I saw J-Lo on "Ellen", as she iterated this very same thought: Holy Mom Guilt. Hell, if Jenny from the Block has a message that resonates with Jenny from Ten-Miles-North-of-Poughkeepsie, well... there's gotta be some truth to it, no? Hell to the yes, I say.

When I'm working, I'm thinking about the time I'm spending away from Lila and AJ. When I'm with them, I'm concerned about the work issues I'm not addressing. Whilst showering (heh, not often), I'm thinking about the time I could be working/with babies, and whenever I'm doing one or the other or a mixture of both, all, and everything, I'm feeling guilt for not doing everything, both, and the other or one. Or the other. What?

Tonight I was putting Lila to bed (after I put AJ to bed and he screamed non-stop for 15 minutes once I left, hello Guilt) and she requested that we sleep on the floor. There was just the tiniest bit of leftover blue twilight seeping through the shades as she and I cuddled under Aunt Trudy's yellow knit "blankie" on her candy-colored rug. Me in my jean skirt, she in her tiny pink pj's. She was smiling at me. I thought to myself, "I've got so much work to do, dammitt. Hope this little bunny goes to sleep in, like, four minutes." But, then... I looked at her sweet soft face and pretty little lips and thought, "I'm an asshole for thinking about work." Guilt. But then I was smiling...

So, I have decided to say goodbye to Guilt. I didn't much like him, anyway. I am saying goodbye to my guilt for:
  • working
  • not working
  • reading magazines
  • not having time to read the New York Times
  • listening to music other than "Yo Gabba Gabba" and the Wiggles
  • making iced coffee while momentarily ignoring pleas for "I want somethin' in the fridge"
  • going away for a weekend
  • buying shoes for someone other than the monkeys
  • eating something said monkeys can't have (like salsa. and Corona.)
  • saying "no"
  • wanting to have a successful career
  • being Jen.
The gravity of the situation is the fact that AJ and Lila need levity. They need a mom without guilt. And that's what they're going to have.

Which brings us to gravitas (def: "substance, weightiness")...

Kiefer Sutherland (as per my beloved Howard Stern show) noted years ago on "Inside the Actors Studio" that his favorite word is gravitas [said in all seriousness, with an ultra-high level of superiority. Understatement. Ugh.] I think about this often, and I'm not sure why, but it sticks in my mind. While it makes me laugh, it also makes me consider the gall some actors have. Gravitas could be such an important, substantive word if it weren't for people like Kiefer, to rob it of its gravity.

The guilt that goes hand-in-hand with mom-hood, is a weighty issue. There's not a lot of time moms spend without thinking about what else they could be doing. What more. And I know this much is true, as I talk to so many moms who berate themselves for not giving enough. For not going above and beyond the 24/7. And for enjoying simple pleasures during the moments that they can.

I say: Enjoy your People magazines! Take that weekend trip here and there to renew your spirits! Put the babies to bed and sip a Corona with lime while listening to John Mayer and considering the gravitas of choosing espadrille versus platform.

Life is short. Too short for misplaced guilt. And too grounded for gravity to matter much. As Kiefer would say, "Gravitas." (Eh, what does he know.)

What kind of scale compares the weight of two beauties, the gravity of duties, or the ground speed of joy? Tell me, what kind of gauge can quantify elation? What kind of equation could I possibly employ? ~ Ani Difranco
Happy Thursday!


Anonymous said…
I never believed in gravity..way way before Phoebe:) & this from someone whose middle name should be Guilt! Love these thoughts, keep writing, reading lots & lots of magazines, and my cream out of the carton tastes even better BEFORE dinner!
Heidi said…
guilt sucks ass.

this post was like reading into my own brain. it so resonated with me on every level.

yeah, guiit can go take a hike. i'm going to learn from you today and kck g to the curb and enjoy my day!

love you. miss you too.

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