Friday, July 16, 2010

Vacuum Guilt!

I feel guilty when I vacuum. That’s right…when I vacuum. That may seem strange, but hey…I feel guilty when I don’t vacuum, too. See, if I’m vacuuming, that means I’m not writing that first draft for the man-eating werebunnies or editing the story about the ninja salt water sponge that rules the universe, or working on a hundred other projects which are certain to become bestsellers. That’s not even mentioning laundry duty, lawn duty, or any of the other duties that comes with being female…or alive.

So, why the guilt, I ask myself. I mean, I’m not even Jewish. Or Catholic. (I was raised Mission Synod Lutheran though if that tells anyone anything.) I was also raised by parents who never once punished me. No spankings, no deprivations of any kind, not even a time out. Instead, Mom would just say, “I’m very disappointed.” Shudder. I kid you not, those words still strike terror into my quivering little heart. And if the dialogue wasn’t enough she’d give me those sad, long-suffering eyes. It was horrible. And it wasn’t just me. I had two brothers and three sisters. Her system worked on all of us. While others were getting grounded and penalized and lectured for every sort of offense, she would just turn her tortured basset hound eyes on me and I’d melt into the woodwork. To this day I have never been drunk, smoked a joint or …well…you probably don’t need to hear about all the things I haven’t done. It’s pathetic.

In my own mind, I believe this excess of guilt causes my chronic tardiness. (Stay with me here …there is some kind of logic to follow.) See, I generally feel that I should be trying to please people…or possibly the world at large. Ergo, I am rushing around like a decapitated chicken trying to get a host of things done at once. Then about the time I’m supposed to show up for whatever I’m supposed to show up for, I think, holy crap I have to get ready. If…God forbid, I wind up early for some unknown function, I’m always certain it’s because I’m lazy and didn’t spend enough time at home chiseling away at the list of items I’ve given myself to do.

So…how about you? Any guilt in your life? Any viable reasons why it’s there? Do you think said guilt is more prevalent in women? Any idea what to do about it? Help me out please. Disturbed guiltaholics need to know.


krisgils33 said...

I'm Catholic, so I've been dragging the guilt around for what seems forever. Doesn't seem to matter that the last time I went to church was 8th grade (and, yes, that was a reeeallly long time ago). Maybe it is a female thing, since most of us are so willing to just keep adding on tasks in our already over-crowded lives.

lois greiman said...

Kris, I don't seem to know a lot of guilty type men, but maybe I don't ask a lot of men about their state of mind. One of my sisters seems pretty guilt free. I keep wondering what went wrong. :)

Michele Hauf said...

Ah, so that's the reason.

You wouldn't be Lois if you weren't fanatically guilty, ever busy and mostly late (but not always). I love you just as you are.

Helen Brenna said...

Guilt, what's that?

Right. And I was raised Catholic, even went to Catholic grade school. I think, though, my brothers tend to feel more guilt than me. Not sure why that is. Maybe because I'm such and angel?

That's it, Lois. You're just a bad, bad girl! hehehe

lois greiman said...

Thanks Hauf. I try to only hang out with people who can appreciate my neuroses. :)

KylieBrant said...

LOL, Lois, I'm with you. I breathe, therefore I feel guilt. Or something like that. My excuse is being raised Catholic and going to Catholic schools for 12 years. However, that didn't stop me from getting drunk so perhaps a few years with the nuns would have instilled that sense of entitlement in you, too!

Unlike your mom I did withhold privileges and apply grounding as needed for my five warriors. I also used the 'I'm disappointed' to great success. The key is to use it sparingly. Now that my kids are grown I hear them say they would willingly take a two week grounding and count themselves lucky, as long as it wasn't accompanied with the disappointment schtick!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Lois, you've been reading my memories (yes, dear, mine are older) on the discipline front. Only for me, it was Daddy saying "I'm disappointed in you" that crushed me. Mama would say, "I know you would never lie to me" or whatever, and I thought, yep, that feels good. That's me.

I don't think it's guilt, but I do think it's "good girl" syndrome. Every human being trades on a set of traits that started working way back in the salad days. The professionals who like to label people call folks like us achievers. We grow up expecting a lot of ourselves. It's more the aim to deliver than to please, I think. We can become obsessive about it because it's our identity. We might not be the very best at something, but we will get the job done somehow or die trying.

I don't feel guilty if I don't hit the mark. I'm disappointed in myself, but I move on to the next thing.

And so do you. I know you, sister girl. You'll find a way, and when you die, you'll go down trying.

lois greiman said...

I think you pretty much have it down, Kathy. All my kids seem to have gotten that whole 'I must achieve or die' thing too. So now I'm guilty of instilling that also. :)

Debra Dixon said...


I must have something to show for my time at the end of the day.

I have to do that mental review. Was I productive? I feel awful if I realize that I've frittered away any valuable time.

I keep thinking if I get EVERYTHING done and don't miss my opportunities by being lazy...then I can play.

And it's ALL my parents' fault. Those middle class worker bees who gave us every opportunity and taught us to appreciate it!

If we didn't, we got the starving children in India speech. Only Daddy was homicide detective during a great deal of my formative years so he had a whole, "I'm a cop. I know everything just by looking at a situation and we both know you aren't doing your best" look. You couldn't lie to the man. You had to admit you COULD have done better. SHOULD have done better.

And we would the next time, because like your mom, neither my sister or I wanted Daddy to LOOK at us and give that little head shake.

lois greiman said...

I know EXACTLY what you're talking about, Deb. I was talking to Mom a couple days ago. She said, "I didn't get much done today. Just a little mowing and some gardening."And I thought, you're 91 years old!! How much more do you have to do??

Betina Krahn said...

Interestingly, I got the good girl thing, too-- in spades. No rebellion, not much disciplining required-- just the "daddy will be disappointed" threat. My kids seem to have missed out on lots of that. . . but then they're guys and as they get older don't talk much about their childhood to me.

I'm getting past the guilt thing. . . mostly. Have to take the larger view: what will I regret not having done as I take my final breaths? Don't intend to have many regrets and I doubt that vacuuming would ever be high on my deathbed regrets list.

lois greiman said...

I've heard that we tend to regret more what we failed to do than we have done. I'm trying to keep that in mind.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Good one, Betina! It isn't even high on my lifebed regrets list. Vacuuming is one of those things that will still be there for us tomorrow. It'll still be there when we're 91--just ask Lois's mother!

But some things won't be, like the granddaughters giving their first gymnastics performance yesterday. To some extent, I've learned that the hard way, but it's something Lois has always known.

So stop feeling guilty, Lois! You're my hero when it comes to putting first things first.

lois greiman said...

Wow, Kathy, that's so nice of you. Thank you. And you're my hero when it coming to grandmothering. Kudos to you and all you do.

Leanne said...

Lois, I have very little guilt regarding the vacuum cleaner. I bought a dyson from I try not to use it too often (don't want to break it). I have a cleaning lady (not as often as I used to). I cook most evening meals, therefore I get a housecleaning pass. But writing? Ooog. I procrastinate so much. You would never believe I've written as many books as I have. I- actually- don't believe how many books I've written! That said, I encourage you to allow others to enjoy the pleasure of using our vacuum cleaner. Remember, according to George Michael "Guilty feet have got no rhythm." So ... screw guilt. Mwah

Amy J. Fetzer said...

Always love your posts, Lois.
I think guilt keeps us more honest than we think. I was raised Catholic by a Marine, who could do no more than curl his upper lip and I'd be trembling. Mom lives by "Do something constructive, even if its wrong." Laziness was never an option, so pampering myself has to be a reward for accomplishing my goals. Its annoying, really.