Not guilty

I’m often asked what it’s like to be a writer — how I spend my days, how I experience the world. And so I will be sharing occasional essays from the front lines of my writing life. Enjoy!

Image of refrigerator covered with orderly magnet imagesGuilt. To be a mother is to suffer from it. But how much suffering is enough?

Take this quiz and find out. Simply the circle the responses that best apply to you.

Question #1 — While shopping at the mall, you and your child decide to split a Mrs. Fields cookie. You break it in two, but one half is bigger than the other. You:

a)  keep the bigger half because he’s not quite old enough to notice he’s gotten shortchanged; besides, you’re the one who paid for it.

b)   give him the bigger half, telling yourself you don’t need the extra calories.

c)  give him the whole cookie to make up for the fact that you even thought of giving him the smaller piece.

Question #2 — Your daughter comes home from preschool with yet another painting. She insists you hang it on the refrigerator beside her other artwork, but there’s simply no more room. You:

a)  take down one of her older paintings and mail it to her grandparents.

b)  hang the latest picture on the inside of your refrigerator.

c)  buy a second refrigerator.

Question #3 — You’re at an aerobics class, only your son won’t stay with the gym’s playroom baby-sitter. You:

a)  tell him he can stand in the back and watch—if he promises not to laugh.

b)  include him in the class by using him as a free weight during the arm exercises.

c)  leave the class, telling yourself that taut and gorgeous bodies are symptomatic of flabby, superficial minds.

Time’s up! The quiz is over. Look over your responses and determine in which of the following categories you belong:

If most of your responses were “A”s: Go seek help immediately! You have zero guilt, and as everyone knows, mentally stable women cannot be mothers. Tsk, tsk.

 If most of your responses were “B”s: Congratulations! You’re worthy of calling yourself a mom. You’ve got just enough guilt to make you lose occasional sleep but not enough to turn you into an insomniac.

If most of your responses were “C”s: You’re too far gone. There’s nothing you can do to appease your guilt but hang on until your kids leave home. Even then, expect your guilt feelings to linger. You can, however, take consolation in knowing that one day, when your children become parents, they too will experience guilt.

And who says there isn’t justice in the world?

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