The news has been so filled with stories about the volatility in the financial markets that it had me thinking about one market that CNBC and Bloomberg don't cover: the Guilt Market.
Mothers are very familiar with this market. It starts the minute the line turns pink on your pregnancy test. Suddenly you feel guilty for the coffee you drank that morning, or the calcium you didn’t take. Heaven forbid if you had a glass of wine with dinner, or had your hamburger rare.
Perhaps you were like me and ate sushi the night before you found out you were pregnant because surely the cramps you were feeling meant another month of the baby dance so you might as well live it up.
Now as you look at the line you have spent months waiting to see, you are convinced that all your missteps will doom you and your baby.
From there the market just takes off. This is a market where I have a better eye for picking value than Warren Buffet.
Just like the stock exchange, the guilt market has a contingent of analysts, specialists, and investors—all of whom are willing to weigh in. It may be out of true concern, or maybe they just have a need to put their two cents into your portfolio.
Some of my favorite guilt tips are
· “Don’t worry about having another miscarriage, I read that stress can harm the baby and cause a miscarriage.” I had four miscarriages, and I always found my guilt index climbed anytime someone gave me gave me that recommendation.
· “You have to at least try to nurse your third child because you nursed your other two children. It’s only fair to the new baby.” I’m pretty sure my youngest child, Peter, has never gone a day worrying about the fact that he was bottle fed while Tom and Lizzy were breast fed. I’m also pretty sure he appreciated having a sane, happier mother. I know Tom, Lizzy, and my husband did. But, I will say six years later, I still think of that tip whenever Peter goes nuts if he does not have the same exact amount as his brother and sister. I have already socked a little extra money in his “money-for-therapy-for-all-the-things-I-did-to-screw-you-up fund”, just in case this is the reason.
· “You should talk and play with your children more. Maybe that is why they have speech problems.” A few times I wondered if raising my children in a convent where we had taken a vow of silence was a bad idea. How was I to know that most parents interact with their kids? That comment paid a high return to the original investor.
When I realized that something was wrong with our daughter, Lizzy, at only six weeks old, I racked up so much guilt I could have singlehandedly paid the national debt.
The idea that if only I had done something, anything, differently, my daughter would live a more normal life has eaten up more time than I care to admit.
As a mom, I want to believe that if I only follow the “rules,” everything will work out just fine. If I read the right books, feed the kids the right foods, and take them to their scheduled check-ups, nothing bad will happen.
When something does occur that’s not in my plan, it’s easier for me to blame myself. If I was at fault, I can control it and make sure it never happens again.
I wish it was that easy. Experience has taught me it’s not.
Or, rather, Lizzy has taught me it’s not.
Though Lizzy’s challenges were not in my plan, they’re a part of her.
As she marches through the house wearing three crowns, my shawl around her waist, a sock for a glove, and a hair tie for a bracelet, it’s hard not to admit that Lizzy is who she’s supposed to be. Lizzy doesn’t blame me for the things she can’t do. She’s too busy living her life and turning her brothers into frogs with the magic wand my cousin gave her.
Plus there are more important things that she does blame me for, such as not letting her play with my jewelry or my favorite blouse.
“You are ruining my life,” is one of Lizzy’s favorite expressions lately. She will use it for anything, whether it’s the fact that she can’t have another cookie, my good purse, or the TV channel she wants. She’s no fool, she knows how valuable a commodity guilt is. I’m no fool either, and her outbursts initiate some interesting arguments.
“Lizzy, I don’t care if I am ruining your life, you can not eat the whole box of cookies. Now knock it off.”
“Oh, but the cookie is my best friend.“
That one always gets me, but I’m strong.
“Lizzy, it is a cookie, not a friend. Now move on.”
“But, mommy… I love you so much.”
She’s learning to be very skilled at the guilt market!
After all, she is my daughter.