Let’s start with a definition.
ovarian guilt [noun] : the state of feeling guilt and/or a sense of personal responsibility over circumstances outside of one’s control; ovarian guilt is universally experienced by mothers, often when their immediate or extended family undergo hardship or emotional distress.
I mentioned in my post about the Talent Show that I am suffering from ovarian guilt. Maybe that’s the wrong term, because I really do feel responsible for what happened, and I hope my poor child isn’t scarred for life. I think the fear of lifelong scarring is where it crosses the line to ovarian guilt, but I’ll let you decide.
One of our children (who would probably prefer to remain nameless in the hope that she will someday forget this moment of humiliation) got onstage, gave the title and author of her poem, and then froze. She forgot the entire thing. Couldn’t get past the third line.
It gets worse – at least, my part does. This was the child that I was afraid might need help. We waited a bit too long to get serious about rehearsal; she picked a very long poem; and she is naturally more shy and less of a public performer than her sisters.
Oh, but there’s more: I forgot to print a copy of the poem for her to hold, even though I knew that she felt far more confident with the paper in her hand. And I was the only one who knew her poem, making me the only one who could help her if she ran into trouble.
Where was I when she went onstage? That’s the worst part. That’s where ovarian guilt becomes real guilt. I was in the bathroom changing a diaper. I knew her turn was coming up, and I met her in the bathroom. I shooed her out so she wouldn’t be late, but I took too long to get out there myself. I arrived just in time to see her near tears, frozen in silent humiliation in front of a sea of sympathetic faces. Another sister had rushed to her side, but that sister didn’t know her poem so could only encourage her to keep trying to remember.
I went to her, encouraged her, and when I saw that she didn’t have it in her at the moment, we left the stage together. We spent much of the next hour or two rehearsing some more, I wrote her poem down for her (it was even longer than I had realized; what was I thinking?), and she gathered enough courage to go back up near the end of the show. This time I went with her. She was still too nervous to remember her poem – or maybe too fearful to trust her memory – but we started the first line together, then she read from the handwritten copy I had made.
So, what do you think? Bad Mom of the Year award? I tried to make it better, but the damage was done. At least my poor child had the courage to get back on the horse.