Moms feel guilty for a variety of silly reasons: for walking away when leaving their children with other people, for asking for help, for not being able to do it all, for interrupting the child´s self-absorbed play, for not spending enough hours playing on the floor and on and on.
Here, I want to talk about the specific guilt we feel when we need someone to watch our children in order to WORK. I´m not talking about going surfing, having a date, watching a movie, reading or anything important too like that, I´m talking about the exclusive need to work and on top of that feeling guilty for needing someone to watch our children.
Do we feel bad because we think that for other people is such a hassle to watch our children? Do we feel bad because we need help in the first place?
I guess it has to do with our cultural standards of everyone being so independent and making enough money to pay for everything that you can´t do yourself. It´s running around money again and again, ruining our spontaneity to ask for a favor.
A while ago, we were in a child´s birthday and after the party we were all going to the circus, three moms and 4 children. The mom of two boys got a call to work, she is a masseuse and needed to be away for 1,5 hours, so she asked us to take her boys to the circus and she would meet us right by the end of the show.
Easy deal, right? Sure the other mom and I were more than happy to help by doing what we were going to do anyway. The working mom then came back and we all went for ice cream, she was in such guilt plus thankful state that she wanted to make it up and pay for all the ice creams. We didn´t let her, of course, come on, she went to work to make money because she needs it, not to pay ice creams for us all. She still had that face I´m so familiar with, of ¨thank you so much, I wish I could make it up to you right away¨.
I recognize those feelings well, as I´m usually the mom asking for help in my circles, and refusing to ask until there is no other way.
So, this guilt coming back is a fact that we have to deal with. I think we can´t end the monetary system (or can we?), so let´s be practical.
Here are a few basic steps to help us quit this stupid guilt:
1. Offer yourself first. Start by watching your friend´s children. This will make it really easy on your feelings next time you need to ask. There´s also something magical about giving when you want to receive, it will inspire others to do the same for you.
2. Don´t think too much about it. You need to ask, ask it. That´s it. Don´t worry about making it up so badly. If you have a relationship with someone strong enough to let you ask, trust that things will be balanced naturally. You will spot an opportunity to help your helper as soon as it comes.
3. Think of different ways to say thank you that don´t involve any money. There are many, from simply using the two words to making something with your own two hands (Ben Harper stile). Practice those ways just for the habit of it. This will make you feel worthy of receiving favors.
4. Remember that if you had to pay for a babysitter every time you needed someone, you´d be living a lonely life. Probably this would mean that you had no family or friends. So having people close to you to ask for something is actually a good thing, it means you have people around you that care for you.
5. Remember what you feel when you are making a favor to others. Isn´t it nice to help? How about making someone else feel this way? It´s sharing the goodness in the end.
When I first arrived in Puerto Viejo, I stayed for three weeks in a cabin with wifi. The owner is short on staff, so since I would be working on the computer every morning there anyway, I told her I could be in the reception when she needed to be out.
I could help her a little by just being there. After I found another cabin to rent and moved away, I asked if I could keep coming in the mornings to use the internet and be there if she needed. It´s working good for both of us, but maybe, if I hadn´t been offered myself first, I´d might struggle to ask her for the internet access later.
Asking is still hard for me, but I´m definitely working to make this more often and with less guilt.