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I used to be a huge fan of Erma Bombeck, may she rest in peace. My mother read most of her paperback books – filled with humor about raising children and running a household in the 1960’s and 1970’s. So naturally, if my mother read them, I read them too, and we laughed together at Bombeck’s inimitable and self-deprecating style.
One thing Erma Bombeck talked a lot about was the G word. Yes, guilt. No, she was not Jewish, but yes, she understood guilt and how we moms (and grandmothers) tend to feel guilty all the time.
I want to banish guilt from my vocabulary. That is not to say I don’t want to change and grow and improve and all that good stuff. But hello – what can be good about “Oy, I should’ve, could’ve….what’s wrong with me? I’m soooo bad….oy – I messed up, ….” ????
I know that Bombeck once wrote that as housewives we make more decisions in a day than judges in the Supreme Court!! Now, that’s very true. I’d like to draw a parallel.
As a middle aged mother and grandmother, I use the word “guilty” more times on myself in a day than the D.A. in a court of law does in a month.
Seriously, let’s give examples here: a) Oy, I might have asked a personal question to that friend after shul. b)I mistakenly excluded that person from the community project we were working on. c) I forgot to wish so-and-so mazel tov on her recent simcha d) I was too tired to go to that person’s event on Shabbos. d) I spoke gossip about so-and-so….
You get the point….notice the pattern here? I, I, I, I…
Hey – how much power do I really have over other people? (rhetorical question!)
And that’s only referring to the self-inducing guilt. We have not even begun to talk about the guilt-trips many put on others (hey, you grandkids never call me!!) — but that’s the subject of another article…..oy vey iz mir! (wo is me! in Yiddish)
Basically, (and I’m going to use the royal “we” here…) WE all do our best with our interactions with other people. We try really hard to be nice and kind, and good citizens as our mothers and fathers and teachers taught us. Remember the song, “Let’s be friends, make amends, now’s the time to say I’m sorry…” (usually sung during the time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur by children in Jewish Day Schools.)
Yup. It’s all about treating others the way we would like to be treated.
And the rest is really not up to us. We can only do our best. And really at the end of the day, we have to just be kind to ourselves, and forgive ourselves for being human.
No place for guilt here….right Erma?? Move forward, carry on, and smile!!
Tags: Erma Bombeck, forgiveness, friendship, guilt, Jewish moms, kindness, Oy, parenting, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur