Mama Guilt--Not Just for Mamas

If you read about how Mama Guilt loves to offer unending “helpful”observations—even about the inconsequential moments—you may have noticed a few things: First (and as my family jokes when one of us is in an especially talkative mood), she has a LOT of words.A whole lot.There’s always more where that came from.Second, her suggestions usually back me into a corner that impossible to escape.  I’m a bad mom if I go in one direction, and I’m also a bad mom if I go in the other direction.  She loves to put me in the damned-if-I-do-damned-if-I-don’t position (and sometimes that feels literal-but more on that later).She also has a knack for pointing out that any difficulty I’m encountering could have been very easily avoided (evidence that I’m not particularly bright), and that the person who should have done the avoiding is me (evidence that I’m not very intentional about my choices). That, of course, necessitates that she move on to reminisce on all those other times I’ve done such a “good” …

The List

If you've read my previous post about deciding to ditch Mama Guilt, you may be wondering how she and I got so close in the first place.

For the longest time, I didn’t even realize this frenemy was part of my thinking.What I did know was that when I looked at my life, I knew it was (and still is) absolutely full of blessings to savor and celebrate. To feel sad seemed somewhere between silly and ridiculous.Yet so often, I just couldn’t shake a sense of low-grade, self-directed frustration. I knew my emotions were often incompatible with my circumstances, but nothing seemed to help:whether I talked about it, squelched it, prayed about it, tried to push through it, berated myself for it, or worked at cultivating gratitude, the sense of dis-ease lingered on.My inability to cajole myself out of these feelings only made things worse:I was even more frustrated, and pretty embarrassed, too.It seemed best—safest, really—to keep my feelings under wraps and soldier on.
During an especially gray…