Dear Mom with guilt,
I think what you might need is some rest. I’m writing to you today as a Mom who has had bookoos of guilt, and it seems to be a new thing each day that was all consuming. I had to relearn and reset to rest without guilt.
Do you think no one understands your guilt?
I know the tears you muffle at night so you don’t wake your kids because you feel like you weren’t enough for them. I know the strain it’s taking on your mental health to constantly feel like finances aren’t adding up no matter how much work hours you put in. I too have felt the sick, anxious feeling in my stomach when I’ve propped my feet up at night knowing good and well I didn’t mark everything off the list for the day.
Do you need permission?
“It is okay to rest. I order you to take some time off.” Just simply be! Forget what you already forgot to do yesterday, lean your tired body into a warm bath, leave your phone in the car while you take a walk, act a fool while sitting on the floor while your daughters play with dolls, and watch your teenager have some fun showing you his new video game.
Resting doesn’t mean you have given up; it means you’re wise enough to press pause on life when the guilt creeps up.
Pausing to think “Why do I feel this way?” Has someone else put an expectation on you? Do you have high expectations for yourself? Do you think that so much (time, money, talent, dreams) is lost it can’t possibly be put back together? Is there pressure to be “doing” what someone else seemingly seems to be doing with ease?
Let’s paint a picture together. You take an hour off or go to bed early because you’re dog tired. What is really going to happen in that hour off or hour “lost” sleeping? What I have learned by trial is that a well rested hour is a way better supplement for productivity and better mood than a forced guilt hour. And that’s how you learn to rest…one hour at a time. Don’t be surprised if the lack of guilt in resting leads to a whole season where you say “no” to expectations and pause more instead of pushing hard to do things that might cover up your guilt. Rest doesn’t have to be elaborate, and I think it starts first with a permissive mind-frame to just sit your booty down.
I posted on IG that sometimes I run the dishwasher twice in one day…I got so many messages about that! I’ll look at all the dishes at the end of the night and jokingly say “Well, that’s a task for tomorrow!” Then tomorrow comes and along with it more dishes, so the machine we have to make our life easier gets two runs! What I think spoke most to my friends in private messages was that you don’t have to fully accomplish a task all at once…we can be tired, press pause, and get to it when we get to it.
Friend, I’m going to say one more thing about rest that might be so freeing it makes you nauseous at first. If someone is making you repeatedly feel guilty for saying “No, I can’t do that” or mocks how much “free time” you have, quit being in a space where they have room to talk. As my Nana says, “Don’t let them get your panties in a wad.” Know your limits. Respect your need to figure out this guilt thing. Press pause when the anxious feelings come. Don’t offer any explanations. Repeat over and over to yourself, “I’m allowed to rest.” Rest starts in your mind, one guilty moment at a time.
Resting without guilt,
PS: If you’re struggling with depression, I get how resting without guilt can be even harder. I wrote something with you in mind too.