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And now a word about guilt…

It was cold and brisk, but the sun was peeking through the clouds and – unusual for winter in Oregon – it wasn’t raining.  I met my mom at her retirement center and together we walked about 2 miles on an area green space trail.

It was a great way to spend some time with my mom, and relieve – just a little – my guilt about visits.

When the kids were little, guilt was a constant presence in my working-mom life.  Too often, I rushed through tasks, pushing little ones to “hurry, hurry, HURRY!”

Once, after a morning of nagging, frustration and finally exploding at my oldest before dropping her at school for the day, I was so wracked with guilt that I actually turned the car around, drove back to her school and pulled her out of class to tell her, “Mommy really does love you.  I’m sorry I lost my patience and my temper today.  I will try to do better.”

As a sandwich-gen mom, I’ve discovered a whole new guilt experience.

My mom, newly widowed and forced out of her home into a retirement center (by me) – is she happy?  Is she lonely?  Do the evenings get too long; the nights too lonely?  How do I keep saying “no” when she asks if I can travel with her, meet her for lunch, visit more often?

My husband’s dad, even more recently a widower, needs us to visit often, too.  Christmas day this year, in fact, found me with my mom and my husband with his dad – on opposite sides of town.

Meanwhile, our oldest daughter moved into a new house in a town half a day’s drive away – three months ago.  We’ll be visiting her and seeing her new house – for the first time – this coming weekend.

Mostly, I resolve not to let the nagging feelings of guilt grow and consume me.

Mostly, I succeed.

For now, I’ll grab hold of those times when I’m being the “good daughter” to my mom; the “good mom” to my kids.  I’ll do what I can, today, to let them know that even though I’m busy with other things and perhaps not present enough with them, my heart is right there, solid as a rock, in the moment with them – every single moment.

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