As someone who was raised as a secular humanist, I escaped a lot of the guilt that is part and parcel of many religious traditions. But I can conjure up a fair amount of secular humanist guilt.
I graduated from college with a degree in Music Education. My cooperating teacher for my student teaching was a horribly bigoted human being who told inappropriate jokes about everyone who was not a white, protestant male over the age of thirty-five.
For the two years that I was afraid to get a teaching job (for fear that I would end up with colleagues like my "mentor"), I was unable to watch any heartwarming stories about teachers. Because I felt terrible that I was not teaching. I really wanted to teach.
Last night I had a terrible dream that I was supposed to be teaching orchestra but I had been forced through some weird scheduling quirk I ended up teaching other classes like science and math and aerospace engineering-- worthy classes, but not orchestra (which I could only teach once a week). I was single-handedly responsible for the demise of instrumental music in the public schools.
Now I am in work disequilibrium. I don't know what I will end up teaching. And I feel unsettled and weird and... guilty? Because my schedule is not what I thought it would be. I will still be teaching. And the things that I am teaching are worthy of instruction.
Today I had what should be a "support class" for a college course on Child Development in which ONE person came. And she is probably the least likely person to need any support. She stayed because she likes class and had another class a while later and figured she might as well learn more stuff.
I just feel blah and gross and inadequate and guilty and like I am not doing what I am supposed to be doing. Now cue the guilt over the fact that I am not (like many of my friends from high school and college) a doctor or lawyer or college professor or head of a department or Someone Significant.
Don't placate me by saying that I am perfectly adequate because I am a mother and involved in my children's lives and blah blah blah. Big frickin' deal. That is not the kind of accomplishment that is toted up in the imaginary roles of Significant Jobs. I don't want to feel like I am raising the next generation of Awesome People. I want to feel like I myself am an Awesome Person.
Because I should feel Perfectly Adequate.
Now I am going to go cry.
Grateful Crap: Being a mom. Really. And being able to be home when they are home. I wouldn't trade this for anything. But it does not make me feel that I am doing Impressive Things. I am not keeping up with the accomplishments of my classmates.
Quaker, teacher, parent,