When I left the hospital, mother’s guilt came with me.
Smuggled in the diaper bag.
Crouching beneath the car seat.
Burrowing near my swollen breast.
Like a tricky shapeshifter, mother’s guilt manifested as empty milk cartons, dirty kitchens, burnt pancakes, undecorated Christmas trees.
Thriving on mundane events.
Daycare drop-offs, quiet Sundays, summer mornings.
Mother’s guilt seized the opportunity to destroy calm, wreck content, slaughter bliss.
Always present, mother’s guilt followed, like a midday shadow, and sometimes attacked like a starving bear, hungrily consuming.
And I, defenseless, sobbed in the preschool parking lot.
Trembled in the grocery store.
Mother’s guilt is popular, parading with an entourage of friends:
Blame, Regret, Fatigue, Comparison, Resentment.
Inviting her disciples to get comfortable.
Extending their visit indefinitely.
Sometimes at night, I drive across town to my mom’s house.
I comb flakes of mother’s guilt out of her hair.
Wipe guilt stains from her shirt.
Pluck loose threads of guilt from her sweater.
I brush guilt crumbs from her chin.
Then, I drive home.
Hoping that one day,
My daughter will do the same for me.
This post originally appeared on Mothers Always Write
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