#AtoZChallenge: T is for Three Hundred Writing Prompts (Guilt)

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Way up here, there’s no Wi-Fi.

AtoZ2019TWhich is good. That means I can’t check email or get lost on Instagram. Again. It means it’s a good idea, while I’m on this flight, for me to have packed a couple of books loaded with writing prompts on my way to San Jose.

I got a little help from the girl next to me on the plane – after we’d sufficiently gushed over how incredible the cookies they give out are (I even scored three extra packs from the flight attendant – and folded up an origami peacock in appreciation).

My seatmate chose two prompts for me to write on from the book 300 Writing Prompts (Piccadilly 2017):

Write about the last time you felt guilty?

Are there any lines that you simply will not cross?

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I did them both. There’s plenty of time, it seems, to nap, eat cookies, and expound upon writing prompts in the air between Charlotte and Silicon Valley.

(My friend Brittany gave me this book on the last day of my unceremonious demise at my last employer. Ideally, I’d have recharged from the rigors of job searching by sharing thoughtful discourse and enlightening words in this book.)

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Promptly answering the prompt

Instead, I finally sullied its pages months into what just might be the best job I’ve ever had. Huh. Here’s what I came up with for the first prompt:

Write about the last time you felt guilty

I’ve felt guilty, truthfully, the past 13 or so instances in which I gave in to late-night, watching The Office and playing online when I could be writing my damned blog urges to finish off the remainder of tortilla chips from the pantry.


For calling out at Target. It was Father’s Day. I’d covered a soccer game that afternoon and planned to grill out honey-sriracha chicken thighs while the family lit the fire pit and tried to get a questionable Jason Bateman-Rachel McAdams movie to show on the outdoor projector.

(They could not.)

Accidental humor

I feel most guilty, though, when I hit the brakes a tad too much in the Southpark Mall parking lot and a smidge to close to on purpose and my Hayden landed forehead-first on the dashboard of my Hyundai Elantra. Because I really didn’t do it on purpose, but still …

I will preface this story by disclosing that the best humor, to me, is accidental humor. Accidental and physical especially. You know, a trip over a misplaced soccer bag or splatter from a jar of pickles hitting the ground in aisle 4.

Even better if the jar of pickles and the soccer bag are somehow related.

Only, I felt bad enough that I didn’t even (hardly) laugh when Hayden tumbled over the passenger seat. We’d just dropped Madison off at her job at the ball. Hayden, the next heir, had a claim to the throne – or, at least, the passenger seat.

We actually saw the bottom of her Nikes for a brief moment – although the actual physics of it doesn’t seem to compute.

Did you do that on purpose? She asked. I hadn’t, but just sending your kid into a swan dive kind of takes any fun out of the physical humor. Luckily, with these girls, by the time the spot had faded from her forehead, we’d moved on to stories of everyone else falling.

And really, what’s the guilt in that?

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The real stuff

I’d closed the laptop and conceded that the extent of my guilt ended there.

It does not.

I feel guilty when my daughters spend lots of their own money on my Father’s Day gifts. iPhones and screen protectors, NFL memorabilia and health journals.

I feel guilty when their friends take awesome trips. And we stay home.

I feel guilty when everyone’s together, and there I am, putting on a red shirt and looking for my Target nametag. Setting out for another shift at a part-time job, at age 46, because we kind of (really) need me to. (I thought I wouldn’t have to.)

I feel guilty griping about such things when my low points would be others’ highs.
I feel guilty when I miss the girls’ plays and games. When I’ve missed a call or text.

I feel guilty when I tell people I’m a writer – and go weeks without writing.

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Plenty of adventures at home

I feel better, though, when I write it out.

I feel better when Hayden says, “dad, this is how I show my affection for you (as she gifts me an iPhone). Not like this (as she rubs my back with exaggerated exuberance.)

I feel better that my girls find plenty of adventures at home – and that there’s a getaway or two in our future (still wish I could take them to cool places I go for work!)

I feel better knowing that the shift today or next week will help with groceries or pay down a bill or even equal the cost of one of their uniforms for next season.

I feel better knowing that maybe this charity thing I’m dreaming up will help someone.

I feel better knowing that the girls will always text or call after I’ve missed something to tell me all about it.

I feel better about writing. Getting the stories out that I have and also the thoughts that I want your thoughts on. And then there are friends who also write. I like to read their words and even share them here on this blog.


A to Z Challenge:

A is for Almost (and also At Last)

B is for Baggett (as in Laura, the actress, and #GirlsRock interview)

C is for Cursive, Cats, and Chinese Restaurants (Go Ask Daddy about them)

D is for Drawing the Line

E is for Every Day Gratitude

F is for Fieri, Falling in Love, and Focus (Weekend Reads IV)

G is for #GoAskDaddy: An interview with realtor Kristen Foxx

H is for Habit of Peace

I is for I Shot the Sheriff, Item Lifting and other Illegal Activity (Go Ask Daddy)

J is for Journalist, a #GirlsRock Interview with Esther Robards-Forbes

K is for Kickass Kindness (to go with #gratitudeandshit)

 L is for Low Self-Esteem, Life Sucks, and Electric Lit (Weekend Reads V)

M is for Manifest your dreams? No thanks. (Here’s why.)

N is for a new path (and why you don’t need one)

O is for old people, other police dogs and one business day (Go Ask Daddy!)

P is for Patience (and how to procure it)

Q is for quality (and other #gratitudeandshit items)

R is for Ruining our lives, but also rules for divine timing and happier parenting (Weekend Reads VI)

S is for Superpowers (a guest post from Cindy of Simple Steps)

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  1. ksbeth says:

    I think that’s the way around it. we all have guilt for things we can and cannot control but we also can remember how much worse others have it, and just try to do our best again the next day.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I figure if I try to act out of love, I’ll have less guilt. Sometimes that love has to be for ourselves, Beth. That’s the tough part.

  2. I am afraid guilt goes hand in hand with parenting. Its just part of the territory, hopefully, balanced out with all the good stuff. 😊

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      They’re inseparable, Jo. The good stuff way outweighs it.

  3. Cindy Magee says:

    Loved reading this!!! I guess everyone feels guilty bunches for different things. I felt guilty year before last when I had to work at Red Lobster for extra $ even though my parents put me through engineering school (hard to get back into that after being out 10 years, no body wants to hire – c’est la vie!). Keep writing! It’s great to read. PS what’s the charity about that you’re starting?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Cindy! I like to acknowledge the guilt, then move on. What made you feel guilty about taking the part-time gig? I can’t imagine going without writing now. I appreciate your kind words!

      My charity is called Balls and Bears, and it’s in its infancy. The plan is to get kids who don’t have them soccer balls (or other sports) to play with and teddy bears to hug. I think all kids should have these things! I’ll write a post about it soon – I have an idea for a unique delivery method!

  4. Kathy G says:

    Right now I feel guilty for not spending the time I should on my blog. However, that’s all it is at this point…a feeling. With no follow-up writing.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      How much time do you think you should spend, Kathy? What’s one thing you want to write about, but haven’t?

      I went through a dry spell, too. In writing, that is.

      1. Kathy G says:

        In an ideal world I would put up a new post every two or three days, but it seems like that’s getting harder and harder to do. And after ten years I feel like I’m recycling the same topics over and over. I guess it’s time to change some things in my life so I have new topics to write about.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        I struggle to find time to write, Kathy. I know a couple of tricks to generate new blog post ideas. Also, have you tried to google writing prompts? This 300 Writing Prompts book I wrote about is awesome for that, too.

  5. Parent guilt is always there. Yes, if i’d been the perfect parent, i would have ….

    They didn’t get the perfect parent, they got me, and i love them and they love me and that’s what matters.

  6. My guilt list is way to long to put in a comment… But my most recent one is waiting until one day to comment on a friend’s blog posts! Then he has to read them ALL at once because he MIGHT feel he has been neglected. But I am just speculating. 😉
    I have missed writing. School has not been consuming this semester, but life has, thus the hiatus from all social media.
    Hope you are well my friend! 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I am determined to get through all your comments today! I will not feel bad for having to do this, by the way. I think you should write something. Soon. Small, even.

      But soon.

      1. I did post last week. Ahem…. but you’re right I need to get back to writing.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        I need to get out more.

      3. And stop by 😉

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