The title of this blog post is the question that stopped me in my tracks today. It came from E.
The impetus behind the question came from a comment I made to Dr M in the car without thinking after another nesting trip to the land of affordable storage and home organising solutions, a land that admittedly feels a little like Disneyland to me, and can exert a certain siren-call that overrides even the pressure of my tired, swollen feet. Ikea.
I’d just spent an uninterrupted 45 minutes in my dream land while Dr M fed the kids sugary desserts in the restaurant — a sort of celebration for all after a long, hot week. A Friday night’s fun. And I’d emerged victorious with drawer dividers for the new baby’s clothes, some lightweight, child safe frames for Evie’s preschool art (very post-modern!), and two small artificial plants for our new verandah. Okay —so it might not sound like much to some, but to me, right now, it’s the thing.
It took less than the distance from the restaurant to the car (actually that’s quite a distance with two sugar high children, one tired mother, and a large bag of above-catalogued goods) before a familiar feeling started to descend. Guilt. It came accompanied by certain recurring mind-messages. You shouldn’t be spending this money. You need to watch the budget now that money is tighter. You like this stuff too much, you shouldn’t be so attached to ‘things.’ You’ll just clutter the place up more.
I am the sort of person who spends a lot of time inside her head. But I am also a blurter. If I’m feeling something strongly, sooner or later Dr M is going to hear about it.
And splat! My emotions fly out into the car like the heavy rain now hitting against the windshield.
I announce to not only Dr M, but the two children strapped in the back in their car seats my unease at my recent shopping decisions.
Dr M, as he often does, answers in a way that doesn’t really answer anything, because he’s wise enough to know these sort of questions cannot be easily answered: Questions of motive, of personal choice.
But E drives her response right though my ribs. Why do you always say you feel guilty mummy?
And immediately there is a more important issue at stake. The way I speak in front of my children, the way I speak full stop. The messages I send out into the airwaves.
A helpful and very interesting discussion about the meaning of the word ‘guilty’ proceeds between Dr M and Little E. They conclude E does experience guilt herself. Dr M tells her of our saviour’s sacrifice that sets her free from such feelings, if only she turns to him. So in this sense my statement triggered a helpful conversation.
But the comment itself wasn’t helpful. For if I want my daughter to believe in a God who sets us free, I need to speak more often of this powerful freedom, rather than my own bad conscience.
Our words matter. Even words spoken by tired, pregnant mothers crazy on hormones. Because through our words our hearts speak.