On looking through one of my recent reads, I found an interesting statement that made me really think about how views presented in a fictional work can impact you and resonate with some of the things you might be otherwise unwilling to admit roam through your mind.
In Liane Moriarty’s Truly Madly Guilty she presents one of her character’s views of a mother. The character actually uses the phrase in her inner monologue of “every woman knew you couldn’t rely on a man to watch the children in a social situation“. She then goes on to note that above all other jobs and tasks assigned to mums “her job as a mother came first“.
For me personally, I agree that I am Mum first. If i’m present with the kids, but not watching them if something were to happen to them I would immediately blame myself as I should have watched more closely as it is my responsibility to do so. But this doesn’t mean this is the right way or the only way. Whatever you are first, the horrible should word always creeps up when you are mumming your way through the day. It is this concept that I think leads to the ‘Guilty’ aspect of this title. Mums are always coming up with something to feel guilty for including, but most definitely not limited to:
- whatever wrongdoing the kids believed they have suffered (yes, it was essential that I ate the last two smarties);
- the only partially clean house that is simply never ready for drop-ins (there is only so many times I can put away the same lego);
- for the work laptop that is collecting dust in the corner of the bedroom; or in the opposite
- for overworking and taking away some of the kids’ time with you to meet the deadline;
- from the meat and veg dinner three nights running (hey it’s got meat, it’s got veg and the gravy washes it all down nicely!); and (amongst many, many, many other things)
- feeling guilty for saying ‘I told you so’ to the toddler who insisted on jumping off the lounge for the umpteenth time while you weren’t looking, when he really just wanted a cuddle, not a lecture.
This in turn leads, in my case, to a crazy mum moment (I know some of you will be familiar with these!) followed quickly by a trip to get the nails done for some timeout (the TV there always plays Married at First Sight and while I don’t do reality TV at home, I can’t seem to take my eyes off it while I’m there!) or to a credit card bill which I haven’t budgeted for (thank goodness for online shopping and free returns – cue further guilt) for the requisite retail therapy to combat the aforementioned guilt. It’s just a cycle that’s near impossible to break.
Liane Moriaty hits the nail on the head with the use of ‘Truly, Madly’ to lead into ‘Guilty’ . We are truly mad to carry around the guilt for these things but we do anyway. While the guilt in this book in particular is over a much more substantial event, the guilt was already building in her protagonist’s mind and I think these comments by the character made me realise that sometimes we feel like it is all on us as Mums, and we should in fact take a break, rely on our husbands, partners, friends, family etc and not feel guilty about doing it, or admitting that we do in fact NEED to do it!