The Guilt Trip

So….. now that I’m back from my trip to Atlanta I can tell you all the details of my trip.  My guilt trip that is.

While I was in Atlanta, my in-laws came to visit and hang out with my husband and kids.  Since my husband isn’t exactly communicating about the details of what happened, I’m left to fill in the details.

You know how that works right?  I fill in the details with the worst possible scenario.

And I end up on…

The Guilt Trip.

In full honesty, I didn’t leave my house sparkling clean and tidy.  I left it as good as I could manage, and it was on par (or slightly better) than my mother-in-law keeps hers.  Early in our marriage, I would clean it to Martha Stewart perfect before she visited.  She complained that it made her feel unwelcome.

Um… I can live with that.  I wouldn’t want to make her feel *unwelcome.*

So I left a basket of towels in the guest bathroom.  I left a collection of easy to eat foods on the counter.  All the laundry was done and put away, the fridge was cleaned out, the beds were freshly made.  I’d covered the basics.

Before I left, I gave my husband a quick tour of the kitchen to make sure he knew where everything was.  It annoyed him.

I assumed that was enough.

Apparently, I was wrong.

It started before I even got home.  I was on the phone with my husband when he dropped the bomb.

Hubby:  So apparently my mom became a germaphobe in the past month.

(me:  so… she became a germaphobe between her house and mine?  i’ve seen the inside of her shower curtain… i skipped taking a shower.  enough said.)

Me:  I wish you had let me know.  I would have cleaned a little better.

Hubby:  Yeah, she was cleaning the microwave when she dropped the glass plate thing.

(me:  the microwave?  what in the world was going on?  it was clean the last time i used it.)

Me:  Oh… no big deal.  Those are easy to replace.

It got worse when I got home.  It’s Wednesday.  I started making discoveries on Monday. And every last one of them takes me a little further down the path.

The guilt trip is NOT a fun road trip.

On Monday, my kids used the microwave without adult supervision for the very first time.  GoGo burned popcorn.  Then he burned himself trying to pop some more using a bowl and a plate.  Watty burned himself after microwaving a poptart.

I have NEVER let them use the microwave without me.   That hasn’t happened since the whole hot dog incident.

I have NEVER used a plate and bowl to microwave popcorn.  I use a paper bag.

I would NEVER microwave a poptart.  That’s just nasty.  Even nastier than a regular poptart.

When I asked my husband about them, he gave me zero input.  He said they must have invented it all by themselves.

(yeah right… they just spontaneously invented a popcorn popper for the microwave that actually worked.  and there just happens to be about two cups of popcorn missing from my pantry IN ADDITION to all the normal bags of microwave popcorn i keep stashed.  

but… my babies wouldn’t have burned themselves if i had stayed home to protect them.  someone taught them things they didn’t need to know and it wasn’t me.  it’s all my fault that they got burned. wah!)

That’s when I started noticing all the little things.

They went through four rolls of paper towels while I was gone.  Four rolls in four days.

A normal person might assume there were a few extra spills.  Me?  I assume there was a LOT of cleaning going on.

I also noticed that my guest hand towels were unused.  As were all my kitchen towels.

It probably explains all the paper towels.  But it makes me feel like somehow my towels weren’t good enough.  It’s like my ability to do laundry was judged and found inadequate.

I noticed that there is juice in my refrigerator that I didn’t buy.  Apparently, my ability to grocery shop and provision my household isn’t good enough either.

My husband casually mentioned that he’d purchased a new package of baby bell peppers because he discovered that my son liked them.  I took this as a criticism of my ability to feed my children a variety of raw vegetables on a daily basis.

(which is crazy.  i already knew that watty will sometimes eat baby bell peppers… and then sometimes he won’t.  i also knew there were FIVE full sized peppers in the crisper drawer that needed eating.)

That’s probably when he bought the juice.

I noticed that the soap is missing from the downstairs shower.  I can’t imagine how they managed to go through an entire fresh bar of soap in four days.  But I can invent some.

Like… my house was so dirty that she obsessively bathed herself.

Or… she insisted on bathing my children twice a day to compensate for their summer fun of wearing the same clothes every day.  (i know they do it… i wash it when they aren’t looking.)

Or… she decided to take my soap because clearly I wasn’t using it to clean my house.

After I finished taking a shower (downstairs, because the upstairs one isn’t working… and without any soap because it was missing) I noticed it.

Someone had put a used plastic grocery bag in the bathroom trashcan.   

Not only do I never do that, I can’t STAND it being done.  I would rather wash the trash can than see that tacky used grocery bag thing going on.

(i know, it’s a pet peeve of mine.  if you like it the other way that’s fine.  i promise not to remove your trash bag if you leave my bagless can alone.)

The only thing she could have done that upset me more would be flip the toilet paper over.

Even though I feel that way, I felt even worse thinking about her touching my trash can.  The idea of some other woman messing with my trashcan because I wasn’t with my family was just… too much.

I CRIED about the bag in the trash can.  It made me feel like I was a horrible person for ever doing something away from my family.  I felt so inadequate and selfish.

Even as I write this, I know the bag is in there.  It’s sitting in the bathroom, a silent condemnation of how horrible I am as a housekeeper.  I can feel it staring at me with eyes it doesn’t have.  That bag isn’t made from plastic.  It’s made from mom guilt.

See?  I know I’m being ridiculous but I can’t stop it.

(there’s a bunch of other stuff too. like how my pots and pans were rearranged.  like how she used the wrong pan to make brownies.  like how my stove is clean and all my favorite stash of cheese is missing.  and the furniture was rearranged.  and …)

I can’t help myself!

I just keep going down…

The guilt trip.

Ladies, help me out.  Tell me I’m not the only one.  Please?  Even better?  Tell me how I can avoid feeling this way ever again.

the mom guilt trip

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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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  1. I’m an above-average housekeeping but I was always a nervous wreck when my dad came to visit – which wasn’t actually that often. But I remember one time he was coming. I had cleaned like crazy (even though everything was already clean). The morning he was scheduled to arrive, I couldn’t sleep. My husband got up and I jumped up and immediately made the bed. He came back and said: “I wasn’t done sleeping. I just went to the bathroom.” Oops.

    And after all that, my dad still always found something to find fault with. I eventually learned not to care because I never could please him anyway.

    I would have felt the same way you did about the trash can liner although I do use them myself. And all the other stuff. And the guilt. No, you’re not alone. Not at all.
    Patty recently posted..No Bake Crispy Pretzel BarsMy Profile

  2. Really? You actually worry about all that stuff? I learned my lesson last year when I went away for 4 days, nearly killed myself cooking and preparing everyone would have plenty to eat (no in-laws were coming). When I got home, most of the food was still there. My husband said he wasn’t going to kill himself cooking (aka microwaving) and cleaning up so they went out to eat instead. Alrighty then!
    Sarah recently posted..Top Summertime Activities for {My} Minimalist Kids: Boredom not Allowed!My Profile

  3. UGH. Nothing better than a nice guilt trip to ruin your vacation fun, huh?! Personally, I think it sounds like your mother-in-law wasn’t busy enough playing with your children and instead felt like she needed to be “helpful”. So unfun when helpful help is not actually helpful. I don’t think you need to feel an ounce of guilt!-Ashley
    thedoseofreality recently posted..“Arie” Ready To Know The Tweeting Champion?My Profile

  4. I think because I grew up with my mom never wanting to have anyone over and stressing any time we had company that I probably have a bit more of a laid back approach and attitude than I should when other people come to visit. My attitude is more along the lines that they are here to see us not the house and if they have issues with the house, then door is right over there. That makes it sound a bit as if I never clean doesn’t it? Most of the time I do clean a bit before company arrives. I don’t think I would have felt guilt so much as anger if I were in your shoes. I don’t like people (even my own husband) messing with MY stuff.
    Jean recently posted..Follow Through Friday, August 2My Profile

  5. Well, now, that’s interesting.

    I figure, when I say to someone, “Make yourself at home,” that includes, “Feel free to bring your homemaking eccentricities with you – really.” Kind of goes along with my philosophy that one must decide: Does one want help folding towels, or is it critical that they be folded into perfect thirds, lengthwise, then in half, then put in a particular place… you get the idea. I figure houseguests can make themselves happy, or they can get a hotel room. Their call. 😉

    I’m not the perfect host, and I don’t expect perfection from my guests. You want to use paper towels instead of bath towels? Fine, not a problem – I’ll pretend not to think it’s weird, because I just want you to feel that mi casa es su casa, and you won’t be here long enough for me to have to buy a paper towel factory. Something’s not clean enough to suit you? Kroger’s practically next door. They have 409. I have bleach. Knock yourself out, but know this: the maid comes on Fridays. You can choose to relax and enjoy your stay, or you can role-play and pretend to be the maid. Whatever floats your boat.

    I’d expect my husband to be in charge of the kids and what they eat or don’t eat – or at least to be aware of what they were being taught or fed under my roof. He’s dad, and it’s 50% his responsibility, and if he’s okay with the shenanigans, it’s cool – so long as no one burns the house down or ends up in a sugar-induced coma. (You know, this is different if grandparents move in; ground rules must be laid and adhered to.)

    I take back what I said, earlier – guilt trips are a major waste of time. Are your kids happy and healthy? Yeah? Great. No need for guilt. Has the health department condemned your house or threatened to put your kids in foster care? No? Then no guilt! Be happy.
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