Friday, February 26, 2010

Maternal Guilt

I tried to take a nap today. My self-nurturing side said, "you are a doula. You have births coming up. You are exhausted and have not been sleeping well. You have the opportunity to lay down your head and rest for a couple of hours. DO IT." So I listened dutifully, empowered woman that I am, only to have a bunch of little voices come to the surface. "The house is a mess...what do you think you're doing?" "Your husband works 9 to 5 and never gets to nap during the day. A little self-indulgent, aren't you?" "You do know you have to interview a couple of students from New Brunswick and need to make those calls, right?" "What are you going to feed the kids while you're gone gallvanting at the Pointe Claire Boutique Bummis Soiree Mamas Sexy tonight?" And so on. Not only that, but my CrackBerry rings all the time whenever I try to rest. I could turn it off, but what if someone goes into labour and I end up not getting to them in time? My third birth was under an hour. If my midwife had turned off her phone for an hour, she would have missed my birth. Well, actually, she did miss my birth, but through no fault of her own. She got there in time for the placenta. I just don't turn off my phone. Which means I end up being awoken by non urgent rings too. Basically, I lay down for an hour and ended up just wasting time, neither sleeping, nor being productive in any manner. Rats.

At the Soiree Sexy last night, I absolutely fell in love with a product they were selling. Do you ever get it where you see something and you just WANT it, know you just shouldn't, but your brain is still whirring with ways to get around it so you CAN have it? Well, that's what happened. There was this wrap shirt...oh, beautiful wrap shirt...go to lillap.com and check out the delicious origami wraps. They are made of the softest, lightest, floatiest organic cotton, in stunning colours. It is the perfect shirt. You can wear it in about 17,000 different ways. It accentuates the bulges you want to show off and forgives the ones you don't. You can scrunch it up and throw it in a ball. It's never the same shirt twice. No, they are not paying me to advertise. No, I am not promoting anyone. I just saw it and fell in love. The MotherWit Doulas were crowded around these wraps, stroking them as if they were newborn babies. The issue is that these wraps are pricey. Not that they aren't worth every penny...after all, they are excellent quality and so versatile, it's like 5 shirts in one....but yikes, nearly 100 bucks for a shirt (even with the sale discount that's way outside the average person's clothing budget). I have NEVER spent that much on one article of clothing, barring outerwear and the Doc Martens I lived in throughout my 20's (winter, summer, pants, dresses and shorts...didn't matter, always wore Docs...I even still have some blue velvet ones stacked away somewhere around here).

A few former clients were at Bummis last night, and loved these shirts too. I could see tremendous mental struggles going on, internal calculations being made, justifications as to what to tell the husbands being formulated, etc. And, one by one, many of the doulas/clients caved, and bought themselves one of those wonderful shirts. One of them even bought two (one as a gift). I felt proud of them, because they work so hard, are great mamas, and are entitled to a treat like this once in awhile to feel comfortable and beautiful. Everyone said, "Lesley, GET one! You should have one. You deserve one!" And while that is true, those stubborn little voices in my head arose, whispering righteously, "Your 15 year old son's pants are getting too small again and he will need clothes next week." "Your daughter needs you to pay her for those books she purchased for school." "Bills, bills, bills." It's not like our family would be devastated by $100 loss. It would be absorbed reasonably easily. I could have just bought the damn thing and truly, it wouldn't have been a huge deal. But the guilt! How can I justify spending that much money on an article of clothing when everyone else needs stuff? Who am I to plunk down that kind of money when my birth bag needs re-stocking? Why is it okay for everyone else but not for me?

I don't seem to have the ability to decide when making an impulse purchase like that is self-indulgent and fiscally irresponsible, or nurturing, health-giving, and the right thing to do for myself. Truly, I always lean towards the former, even though I tend towards believing the latter for everyone else, as I was truly happy for those women who bought themselves an Origami wrap last night. I'm the type of person who usually starts wearing her husband's socks when her own wear out. My shoes will have to be falling apart before I consider another pair. Dingy bras don't bother me. I rage against maternal guilt, yet is has me trapped in its ugly little talons just as much as the next mama, and maybe even more. Do I think if I let this guilt go suddenly I'd be a diva and hang out in spas all day long and buy expensive clothing every opportunity I got? I wonder what would happen if I just lay that guilt down once in awhile.

It's not that I don't nurture myself, I just tend to do it through education . I'll buy books, go to conferences, take courses, etc. These are my "indulgences". It drives my family nuts when they ask me what I really want for my birthday and I give them a list of books. I will then ask for essential oils if their knickers are too much in a twist over the book list, but really , these oils are for my work, not so much for me. Enriching myself with knowlege and doula tools are things I can handle. But spend money on a great outfit? Never. I have never had a manicure or pedicure in my life, even though my sweet sweet daughter bought me a gift certificate for one, and I was too lame to take the time and use her precious gift, which hurt her feelings a lot because she hates that I don't do these things. I am an experienced perinatal massage therapist and have NEVER had a perinatal massage myself. Do any other of you mamas out there have as hard a time doing these things as I do? I'm getting tired of this burden of guilt. How about you? Drop me a post and let me know how your maternal guilt affects your own life.