There’s a week for everything, and apparently over at BabyCenter, it is “Guilt-Free Parenting Week.” Yes, February 25-March 4 is a celebration of the idea that “great parenting isn’t perfect.” Apparently that will be celebrated with prizes, give-aways, etc.
It’s an interesting promotion for BabyCenter, but what’s fascinating to me is reading the tweets (#guiltfreeweek) where people fill in the blanks on “I won’t feel guilty about ____.” People post that they refuse to feel guilty about all sorts of things, from not doing the laundry to watching TV to going out (gasp!) without their children. One woman posted that she refused to feel guilty for going to the gym, and another posted that she refused to feel guilty for going for a run. Right there, this suggests one of the strange things about guilt: it goes in different directions for different people. I would imagine that many of us are more inclined to feel guilty about not going to the gym.
Really, when you dig around a little more, guilt is a highly nebulous thing. And yet people assign it all sorts of weight in making decisions about their lives. “They” have established the norms that we must conform to or feel guilty, or declare petulantly on Twitter that we will not feel guilt. But who is “they?” A family member? A boss? A friend? A co-worker? Capitalism? Society? The monster under the bed? We have a great deal of choice in how we live our lives, and assigning power over it to someone else, who probably doesn’t even exist, is just a monstrous waste of energy. I mean really, who exactly would object to “letting my son watch Bob the Builder while the hubby and I have ‘grown up time'”? (per one tweet, and an excellent idea, by the way). Exactly who are the mommy police dictating that the various tweeters should not spend time by themselves? Last time I checked, women’s and parenting magazines, TV shows and so forth were full of messages about how you should do just that. We are tilting at windmills here. Which is fun, I suppose. But probably just as much a waste of time as guilt.