I have felt guilty about everything my entire life. For as long as I can remember, guilt has followed nearly every choice I’ve made since I was a child. I would feel guilty playing with one friend over another, even if I had made plans with the other friend first. I would feel guilty not finishing my supper and my parents would feed me the line about the starving children. I would push myself to eat all of it even if I wasn’t able to stomach it later. I felt guilty about saying no to people who wanted something from me, and this is still a challenge for me. I really hate disappointing people and letting them down. There’s an incessant need for people to like me, and it bothers me if someone is upset with me. I don’t respond well to grudges without explanation, and rather than confront the person I alienate them and push them away instead. Better solution in my mind.
Recently I had to disappoint a client of mine. As many of you know I gave birth to my second child in July. At first it seemed like there was a light at the end of the tunnel. He seemed so much more “chill” than my daughter was at his age. I was feeling confident about my decision to reopen my daycare come January. I was supposed to take one client back in January, and she was relying on me for the same consistent care I had provided her for over a year.
My son’s gentle easy going temperament was short lived. Suddenly I was back in survival mode, fending off this tiny angry beast every hour throughout the night. I was stressed out, functioning on little sleep and trying to chase my needy toddler in the morning. I was quickly burning out. Thank God I live close to both my mother and mother in law, who have helped me with my daughter since my son was born. They are amazing with her and she loves being with them. I don’t know what I would’ve done without their help.
I felt guilty about not playing with my daughter like I had before. I was constantly shushing her while her brother was sleeping, getting irrationally frustrated with her when she couldn’t quite put her shoes on (even though she’s only two years old). Then we found out about my son’s heart problems (which have since resolved, alleluia). All this stress and chaos was taking a toll on me and my husband could see it. I was a barely functioning zombie. He was the one who suggested that I close the daycare indefinitely for my own sanity. I was having such a tough time with two that he felt I may overdo it with a third. As stubborn as I am, I found myself seeing his point of view and agreeing with him. Now it was about telling my client.
I dreaded telling her. I was nervous and upset. Granted she still had a few months to find care but it’s still a stressful situation. She would need to make sure it was a good fit for her as well as her children. I sympathized and completely understood. I was scared of what she might say. I was scared that she would be upset with me. I was scared that she would confront me and I would have no energy (or brain cells) to defend myself. All of these irrational fears stemmed from my fear of disappointing her, and my overwhelming guilt about needing to do what was best for my family while helping her with hers.
Thankfully my client is amazing. She completely understood. She was worried about finding care so soon to January but I assured her that I would help her search and if needed I would take her children until she could find care on her own. She told me she was a big believer in putting your own family first, which lifted a weight off of my shoulders. She didn’t hate me! She wasn’t angry with me. She may have not liked the situation but it didn’t affect her opinion of me as a person. Suddenly I felt like I wasn’t drowning anymore. I could focus on my own children and not have to worry about disappointing another family if I wasn’t able to be the provider they needed me to be.
Moral of the story is not to judge one another. Be honest with people and tell them why you’re doing things the way you’re doing them. Focus on what’s right for you, and don’t be a jerk about it. Help the other party if need be. After all, it take a village to get through this chaotic life.