Tracy Engelbrecht has a deadly encounter with her Guilt Gland.
. It’s finally happened. My horribly overworked Motherly Guilt Gland exploded squishily and has left me with a hitherto unknown feeling of couldn’t-give-a-shiteness. It’s a wonderful thing.
Here’s the stupid bit. I like my life. I don’t want anybody else’s. In my saner moments, I know I’ve done a good job, and I work hard at not messing up. But that damn Guilt Gland likes to stuff it up, so when I hear people say (for instance) that single mothers are worse for humanity than drugs, drink, and war, my first frantic thought is immediately: “Oh my God is he right?”
Pathetic, yes? I concur. Against all evidence to the contrary, I’m plagued by the nagging certainty that I will never be a Good Enough mother. It’s hardly a healthy state of affairs, you agree. And so, something had to give.
Picture the scene. Pick n Pay veg section after work. Scruffy and sweaty, ink stained arms, shortage of cash surely visible through Mr Price handbag. Spot Old School Non-Friend up ahead. So not in the mood for 10 minutes of My Hubby Says. Try evasive manoeuvres – yikes, nope, she’s seen me. Here she comes with her unsqueaky trolley of organic asparagus, spotless planned child, wedding ring blinging brightly bling bling bleergh
. Internal organs instantaneously flooded by gallons of Inadequacy Hormone. No escape – trapped I tell you!
Then she’s upon me, cataloguing 15 years of Things She Has That I Don’t while I listen, grimacing like a crazy person:
a) Important career, with title
b) Matching salary, with big car to carry it home in
c) Husband with all the above as well
d) Child (just the one) aged a respectable and legitimate three, who prefers water to Coke
f) Time for/interest in Pilates, marathons and scrapbooking
g) Parenting theories from books and not just sucked out of thumb
h) Expertly managed Family/Career Balance all in capital letters
I count. She says the word “hubby” 8 times and “Balance” at least 4. She’s pulling out all the stops here; perhaps nursing some issues of her own, I wonder? There are 6 surreptitious glances into trolley (thank Gawd we like cucumber, that’s all I can say), 3 at missing shirt button and 1 sympathetic tongue cluck when I reveal stubbornly persistent unmarried affliction. Loads of parenting expert name-dropping - blank out here, so don’t remember details -- but do catch the words “Do yourself a favour and something something
And then, with a twinkle of suspiciously perfect teeth and weird air-kissy thing - she’s gone, tottering off to book club or Smarmy Biatches Anonymous.
Am sad, for a moment. Stand there next to leeks and conclude that am miserable failure at mothering, career-ing and human-ness in general. Will never Have It All. Will never be a Cosmo Girl.
Reach over and pick up organic asparagus, in dazed vain attempt at improving karma. And then it happens. Guilt Gland overload – bang ka pow loud wet squish
. Sharp pain in head as Insecurity synapses give way under strain. I swear loudly, startling fellow shoppers. I realise what an idiot I’ve been. Yes, I’m happy! I’m allowed to be! Of course my children are not maladjusted sociopaths! Why should they be? No, I don’t need a husband or a scrapbook! Whatever for? And pish to those who disagree.
I’m having an epiphany and I didn’t even have to pay a shrink.
I wipe the dribble of haemorrhaged guilt off my shoulders, lose the frikking asparagus and go home to my babies.
PS. If you do happen to have all the things on the list – I promise to be happy for you if you’ll be happy for me?