The discovery of your new predicament
Did your guilt-o-meter start spinning out of control the moment you found out you were pregnant? Congratulations! You're officially in training for the ultimate of guilt trips -- motherhood!
Unless you happen to be a card-carrying saint (and it can be helpful, by the way, to remind yourself from time to time that you're a Mother-To-Be, not Mother Teresa), chances are you've managed to find at least one thing to feel guilty about since the pregnancy test came back positive -- that glass of wine you enjoyed the night your baby was conceived, the lung-full of second-hand smoke that you inhaled outside of a coffee shop the next morning, or the tumble you took when you were dashing across the drugstore parking lot late one night, desperate to snag a pregnancy test before closing time.
While you might think you're a natural at this whole guilt thing, don't make the all-too-common mistake of underestimating the time and effort required to hone this all-important skill. Here are a few tips:
• Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you seem to be having particular difficulty mastering the basics of mother guilt, see if you can find a guilt mentor. Sometimes you have to see mother guilt in action to get a handle on how it really works.
• Try not to dwell on any one cause of guilt for too long or it will start to lose its effectiveness. If you suspect that you've finally stopped feeling guilt about something, immediately redirect your energies to something else that you could potentially feel guilty about. Otherwise, you risk losing your guilt momentum -- and that could ultimately lead to potentially dangerous feeling of worthiness and fitness for motherhood.
• If you're running out of things to obsess about, it's because you're not being creative enough. As any experienced mother can tell you, there's always something else to feel guilty about!
• Accept the fact that it takes time to master the art of feeling guilty. You can't expect to become a pro overnight. Fortunately, there's light at the end of the tunnel: once your child arrives, there will be a smorgasbord of things to set off your guilt-o-meter. For now, just remember what your mother used to tell you: "Good things come to those who wait."
Ann Douglas is the author of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books, The Mother of All Baby Books, and numerous other books about pregnancy and parenting. You can contact Ann via her website at www.having-a-baby.com.