I love to read. I don't do it nearly as often as I would like, because I have so many hobbies, in addition to the stuff that I SHOULD do (cleaning, etc). But I keep up with several "favorite authors", and when I see one of them has a new book out, I immediately put in a request for it at my local library.
The other day I received an e-mail notice that three books I had requested were ready for pickup at the library. As soon as I got out of work I went and picked them up. I decided which book to start with, and sat down to read.
And then I started to feel guilty.
Guilt is a strange thing. It creeps up on you when you least expect or want it. It makes sense when I'm doing something like putting a grocery store item I don't want in a spot other than where I got it. It makes sense when I tell a little fib, like "Yes, mom, I remembered to stop at your house and check things while you were in Florida."
But feeling guilty about reading? I spent twenty-eight years teaching young kids, encouraging, cajoling, BEGGING them to read. Why would reading bring on feelings of "I shouldn't be doing this"?
It's simple. I'm a mom. In the last twenty-six years I have been conditioned to spend every waking moment taking care of everyone and everything else. Reading is something I do WHILE I'm doing something else - eating, waiting at the doctor's office, or visiting the restroom. Television watching is in the same category. When I watch TV I often have a craft project handy (knitting, cross stitching, or scrapbooking) or I'll be doing something domestic, like folding laundry, ironing, or paying bills.
So sitting down to read, and do nothing else, tends to fall in the realm of "wasting time". My Conscience tells me I should be straightening out my piles of fabric, or dusting off the knickknacks in the living room. Sometimes I tell my Conscience, "Just fifteen minutes, and then I'll get to work." And the fifteen minutes stretches to three hours. Oops.
I think that's why these are my favorite authors. They have the ability to create worlds in which I can lose myself, forgetting - momentarily - the world in which I live. For those hours, I'm wrapped in the lives and the conflicts of someone else. My own problems and concerns fade away. Until I close the book and realize I've lost an entire afternoon or evening.
But doggone it, the kids are fine and don't need me to take care of them. My husband can take care of himself. So taking a few hours a day for myself should NOT make me feel guilty!
Now if only I can convince my Conscience to leave me alone so I can read.