Decisionmaking: What The Cheetos Won’t Tell Me

Do not run to your calendars, it is not Wednesday. But… it is guest writer day. I’m switching things up on you this week. That’s how we keep our minds, uh, keep them, hmmm, oh – sharp. How we stay sharp. Or it’s just what we do when schedules get wonky and the best solution is to run the guest post on Tuesday instead of Wednesday.

My guest today is my friend Gigi. You may know her as KludgyMom. Gigi is one of my very first blogging friends, and also one of the very first people that crossed over from the virtual world to real life friendship. Sadly, I don’t see her much these days, because she had the nerve to move back to California, but thankfully I still get to “see” her online. I think her post today is one that will resonate with a lot of people, especially if you’ve ever had to make a decision. Surely you’ve made one or two before even eating breakfast today.


I have a health problem.

One that affects me not only physically, but emotionally.

I have Sporadically Mute Gut Disorder. I’m sure you won’t find it on WebMD, although I diagnosed my symptoms there and if I don’t have SMGD, I might very well have osteoporosis, colon cancer or just a nervous eye twitch.

Sporadically Mute Gut Disorder is a condition in which your gut doesn’t tell you anything when you’re trying to ask it a question.

I try to go with my gut and my gut is utterly MIA.

Not always, though. On really uber major life decisions, my gut is there for me when I need it.

Last year, I asked my gut: Should I do a cross-country move with two kids, a dog, an unemployed husband and an unsold house in ten days’ time from beginning to end?

YES, my gut said emphatically. And we moved.

When Boy Wonder was two and not speaking, I asked my gut: I think this kid has a developmental delay…I’m not being a helicopter parent, am I?

NO, my gut stated. And I took my kid to the pediatrician, ignored him calling me a worrywart, and was vindicated when my son was indeed diagnosed with developmental delays.

But I have other decisions to make that ambush me daily – and for those, my gut disappears like a toddler in the crowd at Disneyland.

I listen carefully in case it’s just speaking quietly. I try to fold my head into my lap…nothing but the sound of Cheetos digesting.

When my gut shuts its mouth like this, it causes another chronic condition: Second-Guessitis.

Should I have punished Little CEO that severely for ignoring my seven requests to pick up her Littlest Pet Shops? Have I just broken her spirit? Will she no longer trust me? How long before she ends up on an episode of Intervention?

How much damage did I just do to Boy Wonder in feeding him that frozen, highly processed corn dog? Are the chemicals coursing through his body at this very moment, mutating themselves into some debilitating disease that make his life hell when he’s older? Did I just sign his death sentence?

Was I hasty in sending off that snappish email to the PTA mom? Should I have volunteered to contribute yet another $100 to the Teacher Appreciation Fund, even though some parents contributed nothing? What nasty things is she saying about me to her kid that will get back to mine? Will my kid be an outcast on the playground tomorrow? Worse yet, will she get a crappy teacher next year, thereby precluding her from ever getting into Harvard?

It’s times like these that I want to trust my gut. I want my gut to tell me: yes, Gigi, you’re doing okay, or no, Gigi, you shouldn’t do that. But instead, there is silence. And I spend the rest of the day in a tornado of self-doubt.

Other times, I want my gut to talk to me so badly that I just pretend it’s answering, giving me the response that I really want. The response that makes me feel like a better mom, wife or friend, justifying my bad or impatient behavior, giving me an excuse.

By day’s end, the symptoms of second guessitis have passed, only for another round to return the next day. I can count on it, as reliably as I can count on my Hillbilly Bob neighbor parking his bombed-out military vehicle on lifts in front of my house.

And so it goes.

I don’t know if I’ll ever kick this condition. My gut fails more more the older I get; the older my children become; the more complicated the problems we face together. All I can do is hope that next time, I’ll hear something besides those Cheetos.

I wonder…

:: Do you experience situations where your gut doesn’t tell you what to do?

:: How do you make decisions when you can’t trust your gut?


 About the Writer

Gigi writes at KludgyMom, a snappish take on parenting, pop culture and technology. She’s also the Editor of DailyBuzz Tech and DailyBuzz Healthy Living. Connect with Gigi on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Ah self doubt and guilt, a mother’s closest companions! I think my gut speaks a foreign language because I can never understand what it wants me to do. I tend to just shut down and do nothing, which is generally not very productive.

    • yes,I should have added that I also do nothing sometimes. Decision by omission.

  2. Thanks for letting me take up residence here, today, Missy! :) xoxo

    • Thank YOU for being here!

  3. My instincts are all screwed up; I second guess myself ALL the time.

    • It’s so exhausting to keep questioning your own judgment. I have to be better at not beating myself up over stuff and just moving on!

  4. Gigi,

    My gut’s okay when I’m in the moment; but I’ve been known to succumb to raging cases of Second-Guessitis.

    Often in the middle of the night. (Why does everything always seem more awful, serious, irreparable in the dark? WHY?!)

    Most of my worries center around my kids, of course; but I do also fret about hurting other people, disappointing my friends, letting down extended family…

    I think I make good decisions, by and large. I have only the best intentions. I try hard to be a person of conscience and integrity; someone others can trust.

    But I’m not perfect. And I beat myself up sometimes over molehills instead of looking at the mountains I’ve climbed.

    Anyway, you’re not alone. So let’s meet up soon to remind ourselves of this in person…

    • YES – the nighttime is horrible. That’s when the bouts get the best of me!!!!

      I’ve always been a pretty indecisive person. I think having kids has exacerbated the problem because it’s easy to slip into the mindset that EVERY decision you make can be so very impactful on them. It’s hard to remember that as they grow, how they turn out is in large part up to them and circumstance, too. Sigh.

  5. I’m finally learning to trust my gut, actually, having suffered from Second-Guessitis for my entire life. I think sometimes that my husband’s tendency to labor over every.single.decision to the point where he stops making forward progress is teaching me this lesson: Just trust my gut and go with it.

    • It’s great that you’re learning while you’re still young. It’s harder to change the older you get. Ahem. :)

  6. I trust my gut completely and it talks to me frequently but then I struggle with Second-Guessitis. I have it BAD. I make decisions – good decisions – but then I undo them when Second-Guessitis hits. If I could get rid of Second-Guessitis I’d be good. Any cure for that?

    • I wish I had the cure. I have been known to jump through hoops to undo decisions once Second Guessitis strikes, just like you do. I’m in the middle of one right now, as a matter of fact. I’ll never learn.

  7. My gut hates me. I never know what to do. Sometimes I can work out the hard stuff, like when the preschool asked if I wanted to separate the girls midway through the year. I knew they had very valid reasons for asking me, but my gut told me to keep them together in their 1st year. But yeah, the little things, especially the decisions that must be make quickly? My brain just shuts down and I can’t even process anything.

    • Yep…the little things are just TOUGH. Even the smallest decisions with kids can seem weighty, though, and I think that’s where we can really fall prey to doubting ourselves. Parenting. So damn hard.

  8. The only cure I’ve ever found to Sporadically Mute Gut Disorder and Second-Guessitis it the constant reminder of: I do the best that I can do. Always.

    Bad news is: they are both definitely chronic and incurable … I think?

    Good news is: It is VERY common :)

    • See, I’ll start to tell myself that I did the best I could…which then leads me to the question…did I REALLY do the best I could? :)
      Vicious circle, I tell ya!

  9. Oh yes, this.

    I make quick, snap STRONG decisions.

    And then I doubt them relentlessly.

    (My poor husband.)

    Fabulous post, you two!

    • I drive my husband bananas. What a saint!

  10. Now that I have an (almost) teenager in the house, the doubting has become stronger. Should I have let him get that Facebook page? He wants a cell phone. All the other kids have them. Am I ruining his life by NOT getting him one right now, but making him wait a few more months, just until the end of the summer? He wants a laptop. (*headdesk*) We told him he could select ONE thing for his bar mitzvah. That’s what he wants. Do we reneg? Do we create a 17 page legal document telling him what he may or may not do? Or do we trust him to be the responsible person we believe him to be.

    I didn’t have this syndrome until recently, but lately. Yes. A lot.

    Which is why winning something from one of your fabulous giveaways is so very important to me. 😉

  11. You know when I can’t hear my gut speaking to me? It’s when I start asking other actual live humans for advice. I must stop that. By now I should have realized that my gut is going to say the exact opposite of 99% of the population…and so far my kids have turned out fine.

    Thanks to your post, right now I’m thinking “8:23am is not too early to open that new bag of Puffed Cheetos”. It’s a good thing that today my gut is also under your spell.

  12. See this is what I do… throw my choices in a hat and pick one. Easy peasy!

    Not really…. I either think about them to long and hard or I just make a snap decision and hope for the best!

  13. Two of my favorite bloggers all in one day! My challenge is that my gut speaks to me, loudly, and sometimes I ignore it.

    Gut: I think you should say no to yet another volunteering job when you’re trying to grow your blog.

    Me (inside): Gut, you are totally right.

    Me (outside): Sure, I can help you out.


  14. See, now my gut usually steers me in the right direction. Normally I am quite good at discerning personalities when it comes to evaluating the people I meet.
    Then the other side of me steps in, and says, oh sure they are better than you think, trust what they say, look how they behave.
    This would be the second guessing …

    Then down the road, my extreme talent at this steps to the fore when these people prove that I was right in the first place and had I not second guessed myself – all would be better in my world.

    Thus proving that overall I am an idiot.

  15. Sometimes my gut is super quiet and shy. Like she’s at a party, but hiding in the bathroom. I have to get right up next to the bathroom door, with my ear to the wall, and listen very carefully. The trouble is that sometimes I’m just drinking a beer in the living room.


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