August 31, 2010

Oh, the Guilt...

It was a beautiful late summer day and I was heading outside to paint some window trim. I noticed a large, bright green insect crawling across the fresh black asphalt in the parking lot at work. It looked pretty neat so I walked over to get a closer look and was horrified by what I found. Sure, it was a praying mantis alright - a HEADLESS ONE! The head was on the ground and it's zombie body was walking around in circles. I contemplated stepping on it when my mother interjected "Leave it alone, maybe it still has a chance!" Now, in my own still-attached head, I knew this was impossible - things aren't meant to walk around headless outside of indie horror flicks. Besides being extremely creepy, it sure would make eating and seeing much more difficult. But despite that, I took her advice, hoping that nature would take it's course sooner than later.

Three hours later (!) I walk back to wash off my paint brush and who should I find still doing figure eights in the parking lot? At this point the creep factor had gone off the charts and I was torn. I could squish him, getting praying mantis juice all over my sneakers, and feel guilty about ending the life of such a neat looking creature. Or I could ignore it (somehow) and continue about my day, and feel guilty about extending the poor things' suffering.

Since when had I come to this? Not too many years ago, decisions came fairly easy to me. I didn't get into moral squabbles with myself over insects. If I wanted to do something, I did it. If I wanted to buy something, I bought it. There was no deliberation, there was no back-and-forth, there was no guilt. But ever since I had kids, my guilt-o-meter has gone into the red zone. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it isn't just about me anymore, or that I've become more maternal, or maybe I'm just getting old. But I feel guilty if my kids eat too much, or if they don't eat enough. I feel guilty for buying myself a new shirt, even if the kids have plenty of clothes already. I feel guilty about letting them watch TV. I feel guilty about not giving to charities enough. I feel guilty about throwing away an entire hamburger that may or may not survive a night in our fridge. I feel guilty about eating an oatmeal cookie at 10pm. I feel guilty that I bought a box of oatmeal cookies to begin with. I feel guilty when I see ASPCA commercials come on TV. I feel guilty when my daughter wants to run and play and dance at a morning hour that most human beings should never have to be awake to see. I feel guilty when I spend time to write a blog when that time should be spent with a vacuum and a dust cloth. I feel guilty over bugs.

In the end, I never did make a decision about the praying mantis. I was told that someone kicked him into the alley to let a car mercifully run over his robotic body, but I never saw him again. Which is probably for the better, because if I'd have been the one who crushed him with my tires I might not ever live it down...


  1. Wow, that is crazy! I wish you'd taken a video! It would be a YouTube sensation! I'm going to tell the biology teacher at my school all about this tomorrow!

  2. Okay- I'm not a bug-ologist but I'm pretty sure the female matis bites the head off the male after they have sex.
    At least your little guy was happy before he died!


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