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Riding the Guilt Train
March 2009

For the fiftieth time today, my daughter asked me to go walkie walkie outside with her. I was doing dishes. I said maybe tomorrow. For the fiftieth time today, she repeated "aunty, oil, shampoo, cream, diaper change" (her way of telling me that her nanny did all this for her.) I was cutting vegetables. I told her to shut her mouth. For the fiftieth time today, she asked me, "Do you love me?". I was working on my laptop. I shouted no.

Her face reddened and she stopped short, blinked her tears, and pursed her lips as if to stifle a cry. Feeling guilty, I picked her up and perched her up on my lap. I thought things have resorted back to normal. But did they?

At times, I keep bottling my anger and frustration inside and sometimes I vent out my feelings on her. She just stands there wide eyed, not quite understanding her crime or the justification of my punishment. Then she comes near and tries touching me. This is my turn to repress a cry. Trying to hold back my tears, I hug her tight. She forgives and forgets... something that we adults are not capable of. But how long will she keep forgiving?

I feel angry with myself. Guilty. Incompetent. Loading the dishwasher was a routine. It could wait. Cutting vegetables was an errand. We could have had bread and milk. And work can always be paused for some time. But will I get these moments again? Will she want to go "walkie walkie" with me when she grows older? Will she want to share her day's events? Will she claim and proclaim her love for me? I find myself sacrificing the simple joys of her toddlerhood and angelic innocence for some futile chores. I felt ashamed of myself and wondered if I'm a good mom and for the hundredth time today, I ride the guilt train.

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