Mindful with Irene (18)

Guilt. Why does it niggle at you so often? Irene often feels guilty and writes about it in her weekly blog.

Have we talked about guilt? It’s quite a recurring thing in my life, and I think something many women can recognize in their lives too. With a full-time job that I really like and which I dedicate a lot of time to, guilt is unavoidable I’m afraid. Because I can never compete with those mothers who make fantastic birthday treats for their kids to take to school (seriously, I once saw an entire palm tree pass me by in the schoolyard, with balloons instead of coconuts and those said balloons contained birthday treats). Or those mothers who help out at the Easter breakfast, the school trips, or the King’s Sports Days. And I’ll never be one of those moms who apps “Sure, I’ll go with you” when a request gets sent, asking for volunteers to accompany the class to a theatrical performance the following week. Nor will I be that mom who sits at home, waiting to welcome her kid from school with a nice cup of tea. So I often feel guilty. And it doesn’t help that in the evenings I’m too tired to cook something special, that I spend my mornings checking my agenda and feeling stressed rather than enjoying a pleasant chat over breakfast, that I can’t always stay home with them when they’re sick, and that I don’t go to the amusement park on a day that they have free, but bring my daughter to the office instead.

But, at the same time, I know that there is no need to feel guilty. Because I’m always there when really needed. And my children get to see how good you can feel when you enjoy what you do for work. And I also pass on all the life lessons from Flow: that thoughts are just thoughts, for example, and that they can also go away, as well as the fact that you can look upon them differently. Ah guilt. It’s a part of life. And I can look upon it differently, too.

Irene Smit (46), together with Astrid van der Hulst, is the founder of Flow Magazine. Irene lives with her children (9 and 13, co-parenting) in Haarlem, the Netherlands.