Guilt. It's a messy, pervasive little asshole of an emotion, isn't it? I've always struggled heavily with guilt. I apologized for everything, questioned everything I did and what I could have done differently. I finally came to a place in my life a few years back where I just decided I have a guilty conscience for no other reason than That's The Way I'm Wired.
Now, truly, I rarely have qualms about asking for help... unless it just might, possibly, maaaaybe might put an inkling of inconvenience on the person I'm asking for help from. Then I don't wanna ask, because, HELLO, guilt.
One of my biggest guilt triggers? My mother-in law. I have this phenomenal mother-in-law. She usually comes over to my house twice a week. Wednesdays she's there all day long, watching my toddler while I'm at work. She plays with her, feeds her, teaches her, engages with her, does our dishes, folds our clothes (if we've left any out for her to find), cleans the kitchen, and without fail, makes us dinner. EVERY. SINGLE. WEDNESDAY. Now, to be clear, she never accuses me of not keeping a clean home. She never makes faces at the state of my house when it's less-than-fresh. She does absolutely nothing that would implicate I don't do a good enough job. She just helps where and whenever she sees an opening. And I bask in the guilt and the shame of having someone else do something for free that I'm supposed to have done already!
This was the attitude I took until the Sisterhood forced me to see it differently. My mother-in-law, the angel of a woman that she is, does these things out of the kindness of her heart. She is a caregiver by trade, and by nature. She finds joy in the opportunities she has to be helpful to those around her, especially her loved ones. My sisters helped me look at this differently - stop being guilty, and instead be grateful. To be close to someone with such a giving heart, to be important enough to her to be taken care of by her, is one of the Universe's many blessings.
This paradigm shift became ever-more important this week. Yesterday was Wednesday. As usual, my mother-in-law came over to care for my toddler, with her usual grocery bag full of food to prep for dinner, and a couple goodies for my baby in her purse. I left for work, only to return home 40 minutes later. I'd gotten a call from my own mother. My dad was in the hospital, and it really wasn't looking good. We came to find out later he'd suffered a heart attack. While my mom was tending to my dad on the opposite side of the country, I was trying to head off a panic attack and figure out if I needed a flight out. I couldn't think straight. I wasn't asking the right questions, and my husband (God bless him) was trying to get me to think rationally in his not-so-gentle, straight-to-the-point way. Enter my superhero, Mother-In-Law. She played medical interpreter for all of us, talking to my mom, getting the medical information, translating it into layman's terms, and giving her opinion as a nurse. She lovingly helped me see that we were in a situation where my immediate travel out there would not be of an immediate benefit to any of the parties involved. She calmed my own mom, and myself. Then she gave me the grace and space to go lay down and rest while I waited for more information. All the while, she lovingly cared for my daughter, cleaned our kitchen, prepped our delicious homemade dinner, and kept the pieces of our not-so-well-oiled-machine moving. Gratitude. All I could do is accept the priceless gifts she gave me, and be thankful
to God, Allah, the Universal Energy Source, whichever Higher Power pulling strings behind the curtain, that I have a mom on this side of the country who can still make me feel safe and cared for when my world feels like it's falling apart at the seams.
It's easy to feel guilty when someone goes out of their way to help you. But if that person loves you, or is in any way invested in your own well-being, it's their gift to you. Take it. Accept it with open arms, and let them know how much you appreciate them. That's all they're asking for in return.