So often, I am overwrought by guilt, over things I feel I could have done but didn't, or even things I reasonably know I probably couldn't have done, but still wish I could do. So often, I feel it's almost within my grasp to be a better person, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend – almost, but not quite. I can almost make myself into a different person, a kinder and gentler one, a more energetic and upbeat one, a more frugal, savvy one – almost, but not quite.
Should I use soybean oil (so unhealthy) or extra virgin olive oil (so expensive) when cooking our next meal? Am I compromising my family's health or my family's budget? Am I doing the right thing, keeping Tehilla diaper-free from the age of 18 months? Am I a good wife and mom who cares for the health of her baby's skin and saves the family money on diapers, or am I pushing a very young child to do something she is not yet developmentally ready for?
Should I have allowed myself that quiet midmorning spell in the hammock, reading a book while the girls played alongside me? If I had some time, wouldn't it be better invested in making a meal to freeze for Shabbat? And if I had time to read, should I feel guilty for not choosing something more serious, more edifying, more spiritual? Am I investing enough time in creating activities and opportunities to learn for the children? Or is my "life-learning" philosophy only an embellishment for neglect?
What does G-d think of me? What do people think of me? What should I think of myself? Am I doing enough? Could I do more? Should I do more, and where do I draw the line? There are so many decisions to make, some of them seemingly insignificant, but all of them add up and drive me to a peak of agonizing uncertainty. You aren't investing enough time in pursuing your talents; you will be a boring, lifeless person, unfit to guide and shepherd your children. You only think of yourself and your own interests, and neglect everything else so you can pursue them; you are an immature, selfish person, unfit to guide and shepherd your children. Guilt is everywhere. Guilt and its vile sister, emptiness, when I try to reach out within me for that last bit I can give, and find that I have none.
Then I cry out to G-d. I am trying, I really am, but You see, I have nothing more to give. You will have to work through me, make me Your vessel. Love the people You placed in my care – through me. Give them Your infinite love – through me. Because I, as just me, have nothing, and You have everything. Everything we can ever want or need.
I cry out to G-d. Perhaps this is what I should have done to begin with.