Ladies: Please, Ditch the Guilt

The world over, women are known to feel habitually guilty. Part of it is probably biology, part society. Whatever the reason, guilt does little good. Time to stop being an ’emotional service station’ to others and feel pride in what you do, or don’t.

No guilt please for working
It’s the right of every individual to choose to work.  Surely you did not study so hard and score those marks, for nothing? If you have occupied a seat in a professional educational institution that could have gone to someone needier, then it is a moral duty to give back to society of that knowledge. 

Why feel guilt when you know your going out to work increases not just the family kitty, it also enlarges the mindspace. It gives a wife status in her family; a mother a reference point and perspective to view her home differently. And if, instead of wallowing in guilt, you instill the pride of being a working woman in your children; they grow in perspective too. It is a delicate balancing act to be a working mother, and there are sacrifices involved. But there is no room for guilt. Remember that!

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No guilt please for not working, either
There is no right way or wrong way. Every choice is individual and right. So if you are a stay at home mom and choose to manage your home and children full time, feel not the need to say sorry for it. Especially when you meet other moms who have high flying careers, or are doing ‘amazing’ things. The world over, women choose to be full time home people and some give up glittering careers for it.  Remember, being a home manager does not mean you are idle, or dull, or ill informed. Don’t let any man, or woman, tell you that. All information and interface is possible should you wish it… And you should. And never, ever timidly, apologetically tell people you are ‘just a housewife.’ There is no such thing!

No guilt for me-time
You like theatre, or enjoy bridge with your friends. You think dreamily of a long vacation with friends from college who you are still in touch with. Your brother does it, your husband goes drinking with his mates, why do you feel guilt over every slice of time you carve out only for yourself? 

Me-time is important. It revitalises the mind, helps bring balance to one’s routine and brings in a fragrance all its own. So whether it be the spa weekend, or the movie outings, or a hobby group, make time for it. And feel no guilt, Wives deserve their own time.  Moms have a life too! Separate from their kids.

No guilt for saying No to your kids!
It’s true. Moms feel guilt—even fear—about articulating the word NO. From a generation of moms whose buzzword was the two-letter word, moms have evolved into creatures who believe No is a bad word that will swiftly alieniate their children from them.

No is a powerful word. It is not a weapon, but a discipline tool that needs to be used with discretion and whenever necessary.

So, it is no to tobacco, alcohol, etc except under supervision, if at all. It is no to bad behaviour, abusive language, especially with elders and younger kids, it is no to treats normally accorded, if punishment is due for breaking any of the rules of reasonable good conduct.

Saying no does not alienate children. it gives them boundaries, it tells them that wrong can be punished, it teaches them to live without. It is an indicator of the world outside where No is more common than Yes. Mothers who feel guilt over using No, are guilty of spoiling their children, of letting them grow up in a fool’s world that ill prepares them for the reality outside.

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And lastly, no guilt on spending money on self.
Are you one of those who come back laden with gifts for everyone but have bought nothing for yourself? Does every trip away on work make you feel you must pay up for it? Compensate with gifts? Women feel guilt over everything…guilt over neglecting the home, leaving the kids behind, guilt over spending money on buying themselves something…

But honestly. Does depriving yourself of travel-shopping pleasures or self flagellation bring the family closer? Some things, like travel on work, are necessary; might as well enjoy the fringe benefits that free time on tours gives you. Guilt spoils it all for everybody!

Guilt, dear women, is something best wrapped up and buried, so it will slowly suffocate and die away. Needless guilt, conditioned guilt, is something families will be healthier without. So, dump it!

Meet the Writer: Sathya Saran

Best known for her long association with Femina, which she edited for 12 years, Sathya Saran is also the author of a diverse variety of books. The Dark Side reflects her love of the short story, while the critically acclaimed biographies, Years with Guru Dutt: Abrar Alvi’s Journey; Sun Mere Bandhu Re: The Musical World of SD Burman and Baat Niklegi toh Phir: The Life and Music of Jagjit Singh bear testimony to her love of cinema and music. 

Sathya latest book is  a biography of Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia. Currently Consulting Editor with Penguin Random House, Sathya also teaches fashion journalism at NIFT Mumbai, Kangra and Srinagar.

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