Ovarian guilt

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.


  1. Oh you sweet thing! Bless you and your sweet family too!

  2. homemakerang says:

    of course NOT bad mom of the year award!

    I don’t “know” you but i hope i am “getting” your sense of humor through your blog, it is dry and sometimes hilarious!

    what does this have to do with ovarian guilt? JUST THE WORDS are hilarious, just the photo of you and me hovering over it says “bad mom” i am dying laughing here… It might not of meant to be funny but you are. at least i find it funny because I have been there and you seem to think like i do by posting this situation that has happened to you!

    dont think for one minute that we have not had this happen to us… it was not your fault at all… HELLO, you just had a baby too! Which brings us to the hormone part… each baby i have i seem to be in a 100% fog funk for at least 6 months to a year afterwards… Things that have happened during these times for me have been:

    numerous “ovarian guilt” episodes: too many to list here but i feel your pain…

    putting my my checkbook in the library drop box

    telling my children to put “me” in the van when i meant them…

    “go put those socks in the onion basket”

    “go throw that shirt (meant to say trash) away” and then they ask me “are you sure”? and i frusturatingly say “yes” and then the next day i find my shirt has gone to the dump!

    calling different children by different names, some names are not even of my children but people’s children from church

    locking my keys in the car twice in a week at a very inconvenient time and then hubby has to come get me

    overpaying and not getting proper change and realizing it hours later when i am home

    loosing our house phone


    chock ovarian guilt up to hormones ok! and remember that you are a comedian at times here and make my day!

    i hope you understand what i am saying and just put your feet up and take it easy tonight 🙂




  3. I am just so impressed that she got back up there!!! Way to go!

    Kim, I have a question about the liquid calcuim you mentioned last month after your birth. I’m a lurker (sorry!) but followed the story of your sweet baby’s birth with joy… my 7th is due in 3 weeks and the after pains are one of my biggest fears. I’m happy to read that Bethany is gaining! Okay… where could I find the liquid calcuim? And do you seriously just guzzle it like you said? I am willing to try it to avoid the torture…
    Thank you so much!!

  4. I think it’s a true sign of successful parenting that you can *let* your children fail, then help them learn from their mistakes. Too many people are scared for their kids to fail…but that’s when kids learn the most (and parents!)

    Well, the only way you can’t have ovarian guilt is to only have one child (so you can always be at their beck and call), and you are well beyond that solution!

  5. That is so great that she tried again!!!! I’m sure I can speak for all your readers and say that we are proud of her!! 🙂

  6. I read through your story and knew I wanted to share how awesome it is that your daughter did get back up and recite the poem after what previously happened. Honestly, I think that could be the best thing to ease the prior situation.

  7. Nope- no “bad mother of the year” award b/c I can easily top that story… only I won’t here b/c I’m too much of a chicken!

  8. Samantha says:

    Oh, the poor thing. When I was ten years old I choked at a piano recital. It was my turn to play and I began my song and then just completely forgot it. I sat at the piano for a moment trying to remember and finally had to step down. I still remember the embarrassment and shame I felt at forgetting something I and practiced so hard on, and it’s now 20 years later.

    At least your daughter did get to finish her poem. I’m sure that made a difference.

  9. Way to Go! That is all I can say. She showed great courage to go back up there.

  10. I had a very long poem memorized once that my mom was very proud of. At a gathering of friends she had me recite it . . . and there was an interruption. I don’t ever recall being asked to complete it! *blush*

    Your daughter is *so* brave!!!! I’m glad she read the poem – I bet she would have eventually regreted it if she hadn’t. Again, she’s just so brave! 😀

  11. I’m not a mother, but not so long ago I was a child that embarrassed herself on stage at every daRn school event, yet I wasn’t traumatized at all and now I remember only the sweet face and smile from my mom and her big hug when I left the stage. You showed a lot of love to you child, I’m sure she understands this and that she’ll love you even more, now!
    The fact that you feel guilty only proves what a good mom you are 😉

  12. Lois Groat says:

    This can be a wonderful lesson in forgiveness and restoration for your daughter. And any TRUE guilt you do have will go away at once when you are forgiven. “I’m sorry, daughter, that I did not make a copy of your poem for you to have on stage, will you please forgive me?” “I forgive you, Mom.” Clean slate! Isn’t God amazing for providing that for us? A chance to make things whole. And it works every time. What a wonderful God we serve!

  13. Deanna C. says:

    Kim- I would consider this story a success on two levels- one, your sweet stage frightened child had a sister that was loving and compassionate enough to hop up there and stand with her sister in a rescue attempt, and second, the nameless stage frightened child had the courage to get back up on stage- even if it meant reading what she had planned to recite! Aside from the whole ‘mom was in the bathroom’ thing, I think this showed a lot of character on your girls’ parts and should be considered a win!
    And hopefully she’ll forget the whole thing long before childhood is over….. 🙂

  14. Not to be flip about this, as I’m sure that her embarassment and your guilty are very real and palpable right now, but in time this may be something you will be able to laugh about. At age 10 I embarassed myself in front of a packed church at my dad and step-mom’s wedding, with the moment caught on video. Sure, there were a few years I hated having it brought up or watching the video, but in time it became just a hilarious family memory. Oh, and we ended up sending the video into America’s Funniest Home Videos and it was aired on the show, so what was once a great embarassment has become a fun party story.

    I also agree with Kacie about how important it is that she got back up and tried again- hopefully, that is what she will take away from this.

  15. I think this story has a very happy ending. I’m proud that your daughter got back on stage to try again.

    Bad Mother of the Year – I already received that award several years ago when my daughter came home from the park after falling off of the twirly bar. She was carrying on about her arm/elbow hurting. I told her to lay down and I’d get some ice – but it really looked fine to me. She just kept on crying and carrying on about the pain (she tends to be overly dramatic). I told her to stop her sniveling and to suck it up! Yes, you read that right!

    My husband came home, took one look at her arm and said that we needed to take her to the emergency room. One long ER visit, a cast and a fractured ulna, she came home and WOW – did I feel like the worst mother around.

    So now everyone still has a good laugh at my expense about the whole “suck it up” ordeal – even my daughter.

  16. That’s so great that your daughter got back on stage to try again! And it’s also great that another one of your daughters went on stage to try to help her sister.

    I think this story sounds like one of triumph, not failure!

  17. one thing I have learned is that children are reziliant, your last line summed it up. she had the courage to go back up and finish what she started that is a huge accomplishment in itself. it was afterall her talent and if she wasn’t fully prepared it is not your fault even though as moms we want to take the hurt and blame away.


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