Guilt. Some feel it every day, others now and then. There is not a Mom on this earth who hasn’t gone through this feeling of having failed her child in some way. The intensity varies, but the guilt, always there. It may be about feeding a cookie for lunch (how unhealthy it is for my baby), or stopping to chat with a co-worker for a minute after office (I shouldn’t be wasting even a second, my baby is waiting). The list is endless, the conclusion – it comes with being a MOM.
The day started late, as is usually the case with Sundays. I had an appointment at 11 a.m. for getting my eyebrows done and the afternoon booked for a writer’s club meeting. A monthly event, I had RSVPed and then backed out last minute the last 2 times. Something always seemed more important. This time, if I had any intention of joining the club, I had to go. Hubby had agreed to babysit the kids. For the evening, we had planned to take the kids to the temple on the occasion of HOLI.
Coming back from the beauty parlor, I switched on my multi-tasking horns and frantically started cooking, cleaning and giving instructions to the rest of the household simultaneously. One hour and twenty minutes didn’t seem enough to accomplish all that I had in mind.
Just then the phone rings. It is my friend who is participating in a HOLI celebration with other families and is being kind enough to invite my kids too. I am so caught between the festival and my personal goal, for a minute I am about to say yes out of sheer habit. (When was the last time I told them “no, can’t take you to the library, my favorite show is on?”). So I say, let me check with my husband, if he can bring the kids. Of course I know the answer even before checking with him. A hyper active 5 year old and a curious 10 month old, not an easy pair to deal with outside home. I still make a half hearted attempt and fail. Back to the phone, I thank her for thinking of us and apologize for not being able to make it, fully realizing that it is indeed our loss.
A hasty lunch and I leave for the writers’ club, kissing my babies goodbye. And as my car leaves the garage, the guilt creeps in. I asked myself a thousand times during the 10 minute drive “was it fair to my kids?” We stay abroad, far away from our extended families, our food, our festivals. HOLI for us is bonfire, special delicacies, water, colors, fun. My daughters knew nothing about it, for them it was an ordinary Sunday. There was this one chance to let them experience the festival in its true meaning. And yet, I chose to deprive them. The person in me kept telling me, what they don’t know can’t hurt them, they have never played HOLI before, so actually speaking they aren’t missing out on anything and how could I cancel out the THIRD time on something I had committed to, didn’t my word mean anything at all? But the mother in me repeated over and over “they would have had a lot of fun, you didn’t take them”.
The afternoon passed, so did the meeting as I returned with mixed feelings. The discussions were good but the guilt remained. Even the trip to the temple didn’t make me feel any better.
The day taught me an important lesson. Some choices are hard to make and in the end you are not pleased even if you choose yourself.