I’m marinating in a delightful broth of guilt and stress today. You should see the carpet right next to the fireplace–it’s lined with smashed Cheez-Its cracker crumbs. I need to vacuum. In fact, the whole family room carpet looks like a remnant you might see at a garage sale . . . after a hundred people have walked over it with filthy shoes. I need to get the carpet cleaner guy out here or rent a Rug Doctor, but neither will happen before I go.

The more I think about going, the more things I realize I ought to do. I suddenly decided that perhaps I should clean the oven. And the refrigerator. And I absolutely must get some new kitty litter and clean out the litter box.

The sun is shining today which means I have no excuse not to be out in the backyard sweeping up the litter of dead leaves that have gathered in every nook and cranny. I should pick up the scattered toys and rake the playground mulch evenly and dig up the giant dandelion that has rooted next to my three-foot square garden.

I feel preemptive guilt for leaving my family for five nights and six days. I watch my unsuspecting daughter and know how much she’ll miss me and how much I’ll miss (her musical rendition of “Jesus Loves the Little Children” in the shower, for instance). I worry that my husband will be overwhelmed by the noise, the mess, the constant demands for food. He won’t have anyone to watch “Deal or No Deal” with . . . no one who will mock him or call him Mr. Safety. I feel guilty that I won’t be cooking meals, folding laundry . . . and I feel guilty that I haven’t taught my kids to be self-sufficient.

I feel guilty about spending money on this venture. I feel guilty about devoting time to me and me alone. I feel guilty that my housekeeping is not up to par.

And then, as a distraction from the guilt, I add two more things to my list of stuff that should be done right away. The bathtub still needs to be caulked and the entryway to our house needs to be redone. Now. The outdoor carpeting must be ripped up and replaced . . . or maybe the stairs should be painted (Martha Stewart would know what to do) and flowers should be planted.

But the more I have to do and the more guilty I feel, the more I am paralyzed.


18 thoughts on “Paralysis

  1. Hi Mel… This is something which helps me: My favorite teacher said something like this: If you believe you heard from God as to what you should do, then just do it. Don’t second-guess it or feel guilty about it– or you’ll make yourself crazy (and why feel guilty about what God wants you to do? It’s called obedience.). If you’re obeying God, then that’s what matters most… and He will work out all the details.”

    Hope that helps… Enjoy your trip! Blessings, Debra


  2. No help here. I have never left my children for more than 4 or 5 hours except when I got to the hospital to have a baby. The soon to be delivery of baby #6 has me stressed out that my youngest is going to be lost without Momma to put her to sleep. Nope, I don’t like leaving my children for more than a few hours at a time. Ask my husband, by time we are gone for 3 hours I am saying “I need to get home to my babies”. Hubby likes me that way though. He knows it means I will never leave on a trip without the family:-)


  3. The House Inspection Fairy will not be arriving when you’re gone šŸ™‚ Let’s see, they need to have shelter, be fed and supervised — are your utility bills paid? have you grocery shopped? your husband’s on board with watching all the kids?

    Then you’ve fulfilled what you have to and you are free to have a great, guilt-free time. Everyone and everything will be intact when you come home, and I’m sure those housekeeping jobs are going to be sitting there waiting for you to schedule later in the spring.

    Just go and have a good time. That’s the point of vacation, isn’t it? To get away from all the responsibilities of daily life and enjoy something different.


  4. Good luck on your trip, Mel!

    And if there is one thing about houses, it is that they never stop needing things to be done to them, so I try not to stress too much about it.

    Easier said than done, I know!


  5. oh dear, I know the feeling.

    I have been such a victim of paralysis that I finally gave in and hired a housecleaner… “just this one time”

    Now i’m trying to figure out how I can sell my… clothes? body? soul? to hire them on a regular basis!!


  6. Mel, GO FOR IT. If it was any one of your friends, you would be telling them the same thing. Be your own best friend, and just enjoy the time! I’m sure that once you’re there, you will. I always have the second thoughts/anxiety junk right before I leave. It’s natural. The real crime would be if you didn’t enjoy yourself. And you will!


  7. Oh Mel, we are alike in so many ways, but this is not one of them! lol. (Is a period after lol grammatically correct?)

    I take at least one trip a year alone without a hint of guilt. I’m a better mother for it, and my family deserves the very best mom possible.

    Go, have a wonderful time! Return to your family relaxed and happy, and try not to crash too hard because re-entry can be a little tricky sometimes.

    (Have you said where you’re going and why? I can’t remember. I’m assuming this is going to be a fun trip. Forgive me if it’s a funeral or something like that.)


  8. Everything will be just the same when you return…so no big deal….except for YOU. You will probably come back feeling ready to take it all back on, and then some. Have a great time!!


  9. Mel,
    Five years ago I went to Africa by myself for 21 days! My wonderful husband and two kids stayed here. Many people came up to me and said, “Your crazy!” Yet, I knew that God had put this dream in me when I was a little girl in Sunday School. Being a homeschooling mom, being full-time employed outside of the house, and heavily involved in my church, I really didn’t know what to do. But the most amazing thing happened, everyone survived, not only that but my kids thrived. Before I left I made thirty meals so they wouldn’t starve to death. They didn’t. I had two babysitters set up in the day to take care of things in the day. Many people were trying to dissuade me from going. I went. I never have regretted. I came back a better wife, mom, and Christian by far.
    Have fun, I can’t wait to hear how it goes!


  10. I have felt this way often, and I’ve discovered there’s a word for it – perfectionism. You are putting the burden of unrealistic expectations on yourself and feeling guilty over not meeting them. As I’m sure you know, no one is a perfect housekeeper, mother, wife, gardener, etc. You don’t need to listen to any guilt that says otherwise. Just do your best and focus on the things that really matter in life – and trust that God will not let everything else fall apart just because you aren’t perfect. It will be okay!


  11. Coming out of lurkdom for this. Lots of good ideas so far. What I can add is this.. start backwards. Think of what you will walk out the door with. Start by getting your suitcase packed, your purse cleaned out and other materials you will need to take with you ready.. get your clothes ready or at least make a list of what you need to take. Then work backwards.. make sure there is food or a list your husband can work with.. If you don’t have time to cook ahead just buy some frozen stuff or leave some simple recipes..make sure there are clean clothes for the family or make sure your husband knows how to use the washer and dryer. If, if, if you have time you can tidy the house and do a very superficial cleaning.. good idea to throw out any science projects in the fridge but don’t worry about the rest. Go on your trip knowing the basics are covered.. Your family will rise to the occasion and will have an adventure on their own.


  12. Melodee, it sounds like what you need is some time spent on yourself for yourself. Go, enjoy. The projects will be there when you get home. No one will self-destruct in your absence. And you will come back richer, fuller, happier, refreshed and ready to tackle the world.

    You can do this. Let go and get on that jet plane, girl! (And have a truly great time, too.)


  13. You just about summed up my life. I spend more time paralyzed because I am overwhelmed by all that needs to be done. I wish I could look at the big mess of my house/yard/kids/life and prioritize, but I don’t. I freeze up.

    Anyway, enough about me. I hope that YOU have a BLAST! Your family will manage, your husband will find food for the crew, your daughter will sing in the shower, and you’ll come back refreshed and feeling like you have learned and grown as a person! And THEN you can get to the carpet cleaning.


  14. LOLOLOL – before leaving for Florida I ended up thoroughly cleaning my pantry because I had to put away the cereal. Then it looked so good, while the rest of the house did not, that I pulled a chair in there, closed the door and just chilled šŸ˜‰ Yup, I can always find more and more and more stuff that I really needs to get done…..good grief, I really ought to go ahead and get that wallpaper off the wall before I leave tomorrow =0! Have a fabulous time, Mel!


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