I’m a very prolific player in the markets. Not the financial kind. I’m talking about the one all moms are familiar with: the guilt market.
I don’t want to brag, but in my 18 years of motherhood, 12 as a mom of three, I’ve developed a prowess for picking value and finding fault in my parenting that rivals anything Warren Buffett can do.
Name a sector—food, discipline, education—and I can rattle off five mistakes I made today alone. Not unlike the stock exchange, the guilt market has a contingent of analysts and specialists who are more than willing to weigh in and give me their opinions on my portfolio (i.e. my kids). The truth is, I’m the biggest investor in my guilt fund.
As a woman who writes about my life as a mom, I’ve happily shared a lot of my investment mistakes with you. It’s been great to find out I’m not alone in my ability to adore my children, yet occasionally have moments when I want to rent them out to the highest bidder.
But I must confess, there’s something I’ve been practicing for a while that I haven’t been too quick to advertise.
Like most houses, my home is a den of insanity every weekday morning. My husband and kids compete to get ready and out of the house to make a train for work or the school bus. To help everyone achieve this feat, I get up around 5 a.m. each day. Once Saturday rolls around, Joe and I relish the chance to sleep a bit longer. Our 12-year-old has never seen the benefit of this and frequently wakes up with requests for breakfast.
I always make sure to keep the fridge and cabinets stocked with cereal and other easy breakfast foods that he can get for himself to give us an extra hour or two in bed.
A few years ago, Peter decided these choices were “boring” and thought it would be a good idea if he continuously knocked on our bedroom door to inform of us our failings and provide substitute menu options. After rejecting every suggestion that I sleepily croaked out, he came up with a brilliant idea.
“Mom, what about ice cream? Can I have some of that for breakfast?”
My mind did a quick guilt-to-sleep-ratio analysis, and I said, “Sure, why not.”
Then I went right back to bed.
This made Peter shout with joy and sing my praises for all to hear.
“Kathy, did you just tell Peter he could have ice cream for breakfast?”
“I don’t know Joe, I’m sleeping . . . I might have.”
“Oh well. He seems happy.”
Then we both laughed and went back to bed.
That’s how ice cream was added to the weekend breakfast menu.
Do I feel the occasional pang of guilt whenever he makes this choice? Yes, I do. And it’s because of this that I feel obligated to inform you that he doesn’t make this choice every weekend. In fact, now that he’s older and knows about the benefit of eating a healthy diet, he’s just as likely to grab an egg, rice cake, or piece of fruit then he is to go for a bowl of ice cream.
But I’ve also learned that it’s the times I’ve dipped into my guilt fund and let my kids jump in the puddle, stay up to watch a movie on a school night, or eat ice cream for breakfast, that are the moments we all cherish the most. And the sleep isn’t so bad either.
This post originally appeared on the author’s blog
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