As a nurse, a full-time RN to MSN student, and a parent now trying to figure out how to be a stand-in teacher for my kids, I am experiencing a huge amount of guilt. I like to call it Time Distribution Guilt – someone or something important is always getting the proverbial short stick. Prior to March 13, my guilt primarily stemmed from not being able to spend as much time as I wanted to with my children or being impatient with a loved one after a long day at work. Now my guilt looks different and feels much stronger.
Listening to the president declare a national state of emergency is a memory that will stay with many of us forever. Being notified our children’s schools were closing for an undetermined period of time compounded the disbelief. I watched as some nurses’ jobs went into overdrive and others’ came to a screeching halt. Some were in a position to sacrificially serve their communities while others had to forgo their jobs and financial stability to serve the little ones in their homes.
Amidst all of this, I could feel not only my guilt but the guilt of others around me begin to change. We used to feel it when we missed a child’s field trip or school Christmas party because we had to go to work. Now Time Distribution Guilt sets in hard when we start thinking about our fellow colleagues worrying, stressing and tiring themselves out while you’re relaxing at home with your family. Or, for those who are in grad school, it rears its head when you find yourself unable to give your program the time and attention it deserves.
We want to further our education, help our family and better contribute to our communities. But the struggle to balance it all feels very overwhelming, especially right now.
During this trying time, I want to remind you to seek your grace just as much as you find your guilt. Grace is giving kindness when it is undeserved. As an RN, you certainly deserve it, as you’re a force for good each and every day. And yet giving yourself grace is one of the hardest things to do.
Dwelling on doubts leaves one ineffective in one's choice, no matter what one chooses. So I want to encourage you to pause wherever you are and show yourself grace. Maybe you turned in a big paper past the due date. Show yourself grace. Maybe you rose your voice at your children in frustration and feel terrible. Grace. Maybe you’re staring at a bill that has accrued a penalty because you couldn’t get the check in on time. Grace. It’s okay to make the choice to forgive yourself in those moments you feel you are the most unworthy.
And make sure to give grace to others as well. Give it to your kids who didn’t ask for schools to close. Give it to your fellow nurses who made different choices than you. Give it to your spouse who may be having trouble getting used to his or her “new normal.”
Let this grace you show the world and yourself carry you through to sunnier days ahead.
Learn more about American College of Education's RN to MSN program.