Archive for December, 2011

An alumni member of eager, starry-eyed children who once stalked the holiday season with the stealth of a hungry bear in a kiddie pool brimming with trout,  I learned, as a child, that the lighting of the tree brought with it three things consistently.  The wafting aroma of baked delicious Goodies, the building anticipation of commercialized Gifts, and the promise of perfectly timed maternal Guilt ~ a tool so successful in controlling young children (and adults alike), it’s outplayed only by some omnipresent athletically-challenged senior citizen who watches all gestures, naughty and nice, and visits every child on the planet in one night…but somehow needs a flying deer with a flashlight for a nose to do it.  I guess something has to drag his fat ass and tricked out sleigh from suburban chimney to inner city hood.  Believer, or not, no child takes lightly the threat of running into the living room to find lumps of coal where trendy iphones and 3DS gaming systems should be.  Nothing corrects unwanted behavior quite as well.

Nothing…except maybe the sad beaten down eyes of a loving mom who is resorting to good old fashioned guilt for the holidays.  She works so hard to give us everything our little hearts desire while we take, take, take.  I, of course, was no different from any other egocentric adolescent and, in all my child-like selflessness, wondered:

What should I give HER for Christmas?  Should I buy her something cheap she’ll hate, make her something lame she’ll love, or just wrap something from her room she’s surely forgotten she owned?  Children have limited resources, after all…

Assuming simply asking her was the most logical means to an end, that’s just what I did ~ foolish as it was.  As soon as I could peel myself away from the anytime, all the time fighting with my sister, who was ~ at all times ~ dressed out in boxing attire and ready to initiate a throw down, which she would later blame me for.  We fought over everything…which was the better daughter in the family, which was the worse daughter in her adopted family, who took the trash out last, who looked at who for too long and WHY, and why in hell one sister ever felt she had the right to touch, talk to, or talk about the other.

So, when we expressed interest in what we could do for the woman who tolerated us day in and day out, she was quick with her plea.

“I just want everyone to get along.”

And there it was…guilt.  All wrapped in pity and tied with a pretty bow.  Ugh…guilt dished, eyes rolled, gag reflexes tested, and sisterly war resumed.

As a kid, I always hated being served up guilt with a side of disappointment… and the shame that went along with it.  However, time has a way of altering one’s perspective.  Years have passed.  And I now have two feuding bundles of joy of my own.  A sassy 4 year old girl who melts all hearts who dare to cross her curly-headed, quick-witted path and an almost 11 year old boy who physically can’t survive unless he’s strategically positioned directly in her path wreaking havoc and doing everything in his power to top his high score in aggravation from the day before.  Luckily for me, I’m present for every little dig, every brotherly needling, every attempt at a frustrated whiny reaction from the curly-haired cutie…who, by the way, isn’t so cute when her head is spinning with fury.  But nevermind all that.  The holidays are here.  The tree is twinkling.  My bank account is dwindling.  And the gift of guilt is officially up for grabs.  I’m spending my days frantically searching for all the hot items Santa has been taxed with this year and gushing over my two beautiful, healthy, intelligent, gonna-take-this-world-by-storm future humanitarian millionaires…and my nights moonlighting as an unpaid, unappreciated referee for two barbaric sumo wrestlers who’ve turned my house, my car, and my mental health into a no holds barred, last man standing death match.

But, it IS Christmas, so my 10 year old was kind enough to break from his torment ‘n’ terror streak to ask me that all important question:

“Mom, what do you want for Christmas?”

At this moment, my childhood guilt flashed before my eyes.  The eye rolls, the gagging, the wondering why she couldn’t just suggest to me a gift idea I was actually capable of giving her.  Life had come full circle.  I finally got it.  There was NOTHING he could buy me, make me, or wrap from my room that would thrill me as much as one evening packed with peace and quiet and void of sibling war.  So, I said it.

“I just want everyone to get along…”  Yep, I wrapped it in pity, stuck a pretty bow on it, and re-gifted the gift that keeps on giving.  GUILT.

Only when we become parents ourselves do we empathize with the complete and utter desperation that breeds motherly guilt.  Only when we find ourselves locked in the bathroom crying because somewhere along the way, the shitter has become our safe place…and because sooner or later, the “others” will learn to pick the lock.  Only then do we get it.

And one day, when my grandchildren are using their parents’ sanity as a dart board, my kids will get it too…

And re-gift the guilt that keeps on giving.

But, as for now, his response to my desperation was…

“Never gonna happen, my friend.”

 

Chick Hughes  🙂

Technologically advanced guilt