Baskets of Guilt!


by Suzanne Reisler Litwin

So here I am in my local grocery store filling up on food for the week ahead.  Feeding my family is a challenge for me.  I must admit that food preparation is NOT my forte. Ya know, ya can’t be good at everything!  I’m really good in the garden and at setting the table so nicely.  I can grow just about any type of fruit or vegetable.  I can grow any type of plant or flower outside or in my home.  Actually, my home is a rehab center for orchids.  Very often my friends or family bring me their flowerless orchids and I will nurse them back to blooming.

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I’m just not that good at food preparation. Not terrible, just not inventive.  Almost every day I struggle with, What will I prepare for dinner tonight?  In the grocery store, I sort of walk up and down the aisles trying to get ideas of what to prepare.  I’m like an astronaut floating through space overwhelmed by the experience.


By now, my basket is full of food and I’m at the cash.  The cashier asks me if I need bags. Geez, I can’t seem to remember the numerous bags in my car because, I’m floating in space. I answer her with, “Ya sure, I need some bags please.”  In my mind, I just called myself a dumb ass!  That’s when she gave me the, “You don’t have bags?” look, which suddenly caused dumb-guilt to run through my veins.


Really!  It’s hard enough for me to just get a decent edible meal on my kitchen table for my family.  Am I supposed to remember the bags too? Now I have to deal with the guilt of not having bags for my groceries. Seriously?


May I preface this story with the guilt I felt leaving my home for the grocery store.  My darling dog gave me that tilted head face, Are you leaving me again? as I walked out the door.  I’m used to this Mother-guilt, but I still felt it.


After grocery shopping, I went to work at my desk to prepare for tonight’s class.


Emails, emails, emails which I have to answer or delete.  I have to get back to him and her and them and… Sometimes, I’m so crazy late with my replies.  I’m now suffering delayed email reply-guilt.


LUNCH!  What I really want to eat is a chocolate bar.  But…if I eat that I will suffer more guilt. So an egg sandwich is what I will make.  Should I be eating bread?  Isn’t there a rule somewhere that says you shouldn’t be eating carbs during the day?  Isn’t this called, carb-guilt?  Well, what’s worse a chocolate bar or an egg sandwich for lunch? I ate the sandwich and saved the chocolate bar for later.


Next challenge was the garbage situation.  Is my lunch green and responsible?  Did I compost the leftover food?  Did I place the recyclables in the recycling bin?  Was only real non-recycled and non-compostable garbage placed in the actual garbage? Was I able to decide if the paper I was reading while eating should be placed into the compost or the recycling bin?  I think paper can go into both, I’m so confused. I hope everything I just ate, or prepared with, or threw away went where it should go, or I will have more green-guilt!


Back to work Sue… I just realized that I didn’t eat organic eggs. Is my body now teaming with antibiotics or guilt that the eggs I just ate didn’t come from free-range chickens?  I feel bad now. Perhaps I am suffering from non-organic-guilt?


I need to call my Mother, my Sister, my Brother, my friends.  I think I missed another funeral or two. Did I miss your birthday and forget to give you a gift?  I will take care of all this tonight, after class, I hope.


4:00 pm!  How did that happen? It was just lunch.  I’m late for my son’s football game.  Now, I’m rushing to get there, at least by half time.  Rushing, parking, rushing, I get to the field. “Hey Sue, you missed Duke’s touch down.”  Really? More Mother-guilt!


Ok, tell me all about the touchdown so I can replay it for him after the game.


I’m simply trying to cover all the bases, witness all the touchdowns, remember to bring my bags to the grocery store, recycle, compost, call, email, attend, and live without guilt.


It’s not easy these days. Perhaps there are too many societal structures and unrealistic expectations surrounding us.  Perhaps there are too many things to remember to do that didn’t exist years ago.  Things like emails, recycling and compost bins, and byob – bring your own bags.  Perhaps our freedoms to do what we want are being controlled by society’s pressures to always do the right thing?


Maybe I just need therapy to deal with all my guilt?


For now… my solution… Where is that chocolate bar?


Suzanne Reisler Litwin is an instructor at Concordia University in The Centre for Continuing Education – Communications Department. She is a writing instructor at The Cummings Centre. She writes a weekly column in The Suburban Newspaper and at the West Island Blog. Suzanne is a freelance contributor to The Suburban Newspaper, West island Blog, Wise Women Canada, The Metropolitain, and Women on the Fence. She is the author of the children’s book, The Black Velvet Jacket. Visit to read more of her published articles, books, and poetry.