Everyday Guilt–and a Cat Named Petey

Petey Cat 1993

How are you at dealing with everyday guilt? If you are a mom like me, you know what I mean. Guilt over not hanging outside Christmas lights. Guilt over giving your child’s teacher a gift card for Christmas instead of hand quilting a delicate red and green table runner. Guilt over hiring someone to make your child’s costume for her spring concert instead of making it yourself. Guilt over not being able to take off from work to accompany your child on his field trip. Guilt over not having a spotless house. Guilt over not doing everything you think you should do.

Ah, guilt. Silly, energy draining guilt. I carry more than my share. How about you?

Yes, I know I’m not supposed to allow everyday guilt to overshadow the many tasks I do well. Yes, I know I’m supposed to follow the wise directive of Philippians 4:6—“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything with prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

But I still struggle. And being a single mother doesn’t help one bit.

My children, Jay and Holly, quickly figured out I can handle a crisis but I can’t handle guilt. Not only have they used that whenever it was to their advantage, but that’s how we got Petey—-the tiger cat who took over our household—and the critter in this photo.

For months, they had been asking for a pet, especially since they remembered our previous animals. At first, I patiently explained my work schedule and their school activities, saying it wouldn’t be fair to an animal to be left alone so much.

They’d counter with the argument that a cat likes being left alone. I again said no but with less patience. Sigh.

Then a litter of kittens was born in a garage down the street. Each afternoon, the neighborhood children gathered to watch the antics of the little creatures and analyze the varying personalities.

At home, our dinner conversations were filled with details of which kitten was the cutest, which one was the most clever, which one was the most playful. I remained unimpressed.

When the furry critters were old enough to go to new homes, Jay and Holly thought they had the perfect argument: “The owners are giving the kittens away. They’re free!”

I shrugged. “You might as well learn right now there’s no such thing as a free cat. You have to buy food and toys and take it to the vet. Believe me, all of that costs money. The answer is still no.”

10-year-old Holly looked at me with sorrowful eyes. “How come when we ask you for a kitty, you always say no? But the first time we asked Daddy, he said yes!”

I rubbed my forehead, searching for an answer. But I knew I’d lost.

“Go get your cat, Holly,” I said.

Both kiddos were out the door almost before I finished the sentence.

That’s my story of manipulation through guilt. I’d love to hear how you face similar guilt-riddled situations.


About sandrapaldrich

Sandra P. Aldrich, author and popular speaker, loves the Lord, family and all things Appalachian. Isaiah 41:9-10
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