Now, who doesn’t love a great trip?! Really. Even if it is spontaneous, there is something exciting about the start of a new adventure. The pull and lure of the journey ahead. Well, I have had wanderlust my whole young adult life but the trip I’m talking about I’ve been taking since I was a child and I’m OVER IT. Can you guess?? We’ve all been there (drum roll please) the ever dreaded Guilt Trip! Yep, it’s just as real and tangible as a family vacation. You can just about plan when it is going to occur, you know who will be involved and sometimes know what it will cost. Experience has shown me that the cost is not a monetary figure, oh no, it’s much more expensive. See, a guilt trip is going to cost precious and invaluable things like time, emotional energy and peace of mind.
I have had plenty of guilt trips from family, pseudo-friends and the darn ASPCA commercial playing Sarah McLachlan’s “Eyes of An Angel.” But in this season of life, the road to guilt has been paved by a most unsuspecting character, my four year old. I was not prepared but her road map has been marked, highlighted and ready for the journey for who knows how long. Since welcoming Baby A into the crew, the big child has, forgive my lack of endearment…acted a complete fool. And she does it so masterfully, at the drop of a dime and usually in front of an audience when I am least emotionally capable to immediately bring myself together quickly. Can you relate? We (oh yes, this trip involves us all, the husband is not exempt) noticed it but didn’t really know what to call it. We thought maybe it was adjustment to all of our life changes. Maybe it was sharing us with the baby. And then I realized we need to call a spade a spade, it’s manipulation at it’s best. Starting from the beginning would have us here all night and me out of space for additional characters before I even got halfway through the saga but I will chart you the course for the last trip I was taken on (see what I did there with the pun…guilt trip, chart course…no? Okay, moving along).
As I ate dinner tonight with the Big Kid, Baby A started her usual hints that mealtime for her was fast approaching. I had agreed to color after dinner and as we finished our meals the table was cleared and I went to grab the baby and her seat. I hear from the kitchen (in an ever smug voice) “Well fine, if you want to be with her and not me, I will color by myself.” Now, as stated before this wasn’t the first time a sign of jealousy (’cause that’s what this really is) reared it’s ugly head. But I had been the calm mother who before reassured her oldest child that there was enough love for everyone in the family and then after bedtime cried through my prayers to be fair. Over-analyzed how I spent my day and how I would micro-manage my time the next day to make it more “even.” I have doubted. Loathed. Scolded. And many a day in the past five weeks since Baby A’s birth been disappointed that I was able to fill my firstborn’s chief complaint, “No one plays with me.” But tonight I was tired. Tired of repeating myself. Tired of the complaining. Whining. Unnecessary and unprompted crying fits. I was even more tired of someone who sleeps 12 hours at a time telling me how tired she was.
So as I heard the words slide from her mouth ever so smoothly, I boldly proclaimed (from the living room into the kitchen) “ENOUGH!” I then began my monologue, which was probably Academy Award worthy, about what I would not tolerate any longer. I got off the train that led to Sleeplessness Because of Self Doubt. I brought to a halt the road trip to the land of I’m Not Doing My Job As A Mother Well Enough, USA. I cashed in my ticket to I Need to Do More to Prove My Love. I’m over it. Done. NEVA GOING BACK! My friends, whether your guilt trip involves one person, a relative, child or whatever, I encourage you to turn in the other direction right now. Don’t stay on the path that leads to a fruitless destination. A place of disappointment in self or people pleasing. Just don’t do it. And don’t let anyone (whether you birthed them or were birthed by them) make you feel like you are a hostage on a journey you never signed up to take. Guilt is a powerful drug that people use to take advantage of you. Kind of like an emotional Roofie. All is well and before you know it your judgement is clouded, your memory is foggy and you wake up not knowing where you are or how you even got there. Even worse, you blame yourself for letting it happen.
Tonight, I put to a halt a trip that I know wasn’t meant for me and put on notice that I am not a wandering traveler to be led by whomever or whatever delights the fancy of those wanting to be indulged. Here’s to freedom and peace of mind! It’s a rough trip to cancel and avoiding it can be just as difficult but the reward is priceless. Where will you go once you end the guilt trip you’re on? Me…I’m headed to a place with delicious food, great friends and memories I know will last a lifetime.