Guilt – That 4-Letter Word!

April 21, 2014 Book Talk 24

Guilt – That 4-Letter Word!Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
Published by Archetype, Crown Publishing Group on May 7, 2013
Genres: Humor, Non-Fiction
Pages: 288
Source: complimentary review copy
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This post was inspired by the novel Dad Is Fat by comedian Jim Gaffigan who riffs on his adventures co-parenting 5 kids in a 2 bedroom Manhattan apartment.  Join From Left to Write on April 22nd as we discuss Dad Is Fat.  As a member, I received a copy for review purposes.

Guilt ~ should be a 4-letter word, don’t you think?

We all feel it at some time or another {unless you’re a sociopath}.  If you’re a mom though, that feeling typically works its way into your psyche even before the hospital lets you leave with the baby and stays for. . .well. . .an eternity.  Of course it comes and goes, ebbs and flows – but I daresay, if you’re a mom, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Recently I had a conversation with my mom about having feelings of guilt for different aspects of how I raised my children.  I was asking her if these feelings will ever go away.  My mom is the wisest woman I know so I thought for sure she would have the right answer.  I was definitely not encouraged when she told me she still feels guilty about times when my brothers and I were young.  Aargh!  That’s so not what I wanted to hear.

Then I asked my daughter if she ever feels guilty about the choices she is making with The Little Monkey.  I was expecting a resounding “no” as I think she’s a most fabulous mom, but alas, she struggles with guilt as well.

My best friend who has a 13 month old – same story.

So when I read this quote in Dad Is Fat it was almost with a sense of “YES! Dad’s experience it too!”   Not that I would wish the sensation on anyone, mind you 😉

No matter how hard you try to be a good parent, you always know deep down that you could do more.  I feel guilty when I travel out of town to do shows.  I feel guilty when I’m in town and I don’t spend every single moment with my children.  I feel guilty when I’m spending time with my children and I am not doing something constructive toward their intellectual development. . .(p. 26 – 27)

We all have these guilty feelings, some warranted – like yelling at your child for no reason; and many of those feelings not so warranted – such as your child is in a bad mood so it must be your fault.  I am guilty on both fronts and within this past week!

Although I snapped at my son because I was stressed about making him late for a music gig, I did apologize almost immediately.  And though I internalized that my daughter was in a bad mood because of me or something I did/said or didn’t do/say, I realized it’s not always about me.  She’s grown, with her own life and issues and moods and with a two year old that although he is the sun, moon and stars all rolled into one he can also cause her feelings of guilt.

I guess what I’ve come to realize is that guilt is one of those feelings we all have, but so is joy, confidence, pleasure, freedom, happiness, love, blessed, merry, amazed, thankful and so many others.  I consciously choose to take a step back when I sense guilt creeping in; see what it is bringing that 5-letter word out {should be a 4-letter word}, and then if it is something I can change or fix I do, but most of the time I let it go and choose to be happy and content instead.

How do you deal with feelings of guilt?  

Share your tips in the comments so we can all support and encourage one another.

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24 Responses to “Guilt – That 4-Letter Word!”

    • Stacy (The Novel Life)

      yeah, I dogeared the page and highlighted it. Now I’m sending it to my brother who is a relatively new dad – he will love it!

  1. Char

    I constantly feel guilty that i work outside the home, even though doing so has actually allowed me to keep my children with me instead of in daycare until they enter school. (I work as a Nanny.) Mommy guilt is the worst.

    • Stacy (The Novel Life)

      Mommy guilt IS the worst! But what a fantastic arrangement you have! Are the children relatively close in age – yours and the ones you are the Nanny for?

    • Stacy (The Novel Life)

      Excellent point! Why are we so hard on ourselves and so easy on our kids?!?

  2. bermudaonion(Kathy)

    I do have some feelings of guilt but I think it’s a fairly modern notion when it comes to parenting. The concept of “quality time” with kids is fairly new. In the past, parents spend every waking moment working to keep the family going and they didn’t dwell on the kids like we do.

  3. Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com

    I think guilt comes with motherhood. Father’s feel it too but not as acutely I think. It seems to go hand in hand with the immense responsibility of raising a child. But hopefully, like you said, the joy, pride, happiness, and laughter (among all the other amazing feelings that come with parenting) overshadow it. Great post.

    I’ve been meaning to listen to this audio. It’s on my wish list.

    • Stacy (The Novel Life)

      Oh I bet this one is hilarious on audio! Does Gaffigan do the audio himself? I hate to admit I had never heard of him until I read the book. Then I had to watch him on YouTube so I could kind of understand his gallows humor. He is absolutely hilarious! If you get the opportunity to listen to the audio do let me know how you like it – I want to get a copy for my brother who has two kids ages 2 & 10 months – he would love it I bet.

      If the audio comes with the pictures and drawings be sure to check out his sleeping arrangements drawings – it’s a logistical nightmare!

      • Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com

        It is him narrating actually. 🙂

        Don’t feel bad, I don’t know much about him either. But when I first spotted the book awhile ago, I knew I had to try it.

        Oooo now I’m thinking I need to check the physical copy out from the library too when I decide to listen to it. Thanks for the tip. 🙂

  4. Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves)

    Dad is Fat was a funny book! I read it last summer having just moved my 2 kids to the suburbs from NYC, I have no idea how he did 5 there!

    Guilt – ah yes! The worst for me is when I yell at my son for something (usually pushing his sister or not listening to me) and he cries (he’s only 3)…that kills me every time! I think every parent becomes intimately familiar with this emotion!

    • Stacy (The Novel Life)

      I know! Five kids in a two bedroom apartment – he and his wife deserve a trophy for that one! When I was first looking at his diagrams of how they do sleeping arrangements I could not figure out what in the world he was saying and then it dawned on me – three cribs, two single beds and all the logistics of getting 5 to sleep was exhausting just reading!

      My grandson is almost three and he can get this look on his face that makes me melt, especially if he is in trouble – how can I say “no” to that face, those eyes, the big fat tears?!? It’s darned difficult isn’t it? Talking it out helps me – hope it helped you a bit as well 🙂

  5. Alicia S

    Maybe we can make it a 4-letter word…GILT! 🙂

    I think it comes with the territory of being a mom.

    One thing I caught in your post is that you asked your mom and she told you she still feels guilty about times when you and your brother were young. She feels GILT and yet you turned out ok? Maybe we need to cut ourselves some slack?

    • Stacy (The Novel Life)

      Love, love, love your comment and changing guilt to “gilt.” Wonderful idea!

      and that’s a very valid point – I did turn out ok and I believe I even told my mom that when we were having the discussion. Having a reminder to give ourselves a bit of slack definitely helps. I need to make a sign to put up at my desk (along with the other 72 motivational sayings I have) 😉

      I think it also helps when we have an open conversation about gilt. Just verbalizing the issue made me feel better – and if it helps even one other person by reading the post and the comments then I’ve accomplished much. I know you’ve made me feel better!

  6. mamawolfeto2

    Guilt….yes, I’ve felt it, too. When it sneaks up on me, though, I try to flip it around to help me think about what is really the right thing to do in the moment. That usually works!

  7. Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf

    I have guilty feelings sneak up, too. I usually deal with it by looking at it as if a friend was sharing it. That usually puts it back in perspective. Or, I remember some of the guilty things my mom has shared from when I was growing up — they are all silly to me as her child, and she has NO reason to feel guilty (usually quite the opposite). So that helps me, too.

  8. Eva

    Yes! Guilt is just one of the many feelings that we get as moms, and sometimes they do overshadow all the other awesome ones. I always wonder if I’m getting it right.

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