Sunday, November 7, 2010

on achieving balance (hint: impossible)

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of speaking at a mom’s group that a college friend helps lead.  While there, I also met another blogger.  I had come across her blog not too long before meeting her and was intrigued because she is a mom to three girls and I knew of her husband and their band from my college days also.  Check out her blog.  You’ll keep going back.

Anyhow, I digress.

Back when I spoke, I intended to share the content here on my blog.  But time got away from me, and then I couldn’t find my notes.  I thought I had it typed up on my computer, but all I could find was an outline with blanks.  And I couldn’t remember all the fill-in’s.  But last week while reading one of my Bible’s, I found my original notes!

So I can finally share them here with you.  I’m going to break it up though into a few days of posts because otherwise it will be too long.  I get wordy.

As moms, I think we often strive for balance in our lives.  We want to have all our ducks in a row.  We want to have a clean and organized home, homemade meals, laundry clean and put away, time for ourselves, time with our husbands and to be showered would be nice too.  All in the same day. 

When was the last time that happened for you?  Oh, and for me and other working moms---add in working to that balanced day too.

But honestly, it’s not realistic. 

Balance, is defined as a state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc.

This sort of balance, where there is equal distribution is almost impossible.  As a mom, as human being living on earth, things are always changing.  You can’t predict which day your baby will take that glorious three-hour nap giving you plenty of time to catch up on the housework as well as your favorite TV show.  Because it could just as easily be the day your baby is teething and refuses to nap more than thirty minutes at a time.

As a working mom, illness is what often throws the wrench into my “perfect balance.”  When my kids or my caregivers are sick, it often means I lose time at work.  So I’m trying to work at home.  Or trying to get more done in less time.  And the balance goes out the door.  Because then I get stressed, and I have anxiety over what I’m not getting done and because I’m caring for a sick child, I’m not getting anything else done.

The list goes on for what disrupts balance; car trouble, weather, broken appliances, or fill-in-the-blank.

I prefer a different definition of balance when it comes to motherhood.

Balance does not necessarily mean equal.  If your life were represented by a pie (mine would be apple crumb if you’re wondering), you are not going to be able to cut that pie in equal pieces each day.  Some days, one piece of the pie will need to be bigger than the others.

Three days a week, when it’s all said and done, about 11 hours of my day are devoted to work.  It begins when I wake up—and maybe run on the treadmill—and get myself and the kids out of the door (with Bean’s help too), work and then pick the kids up and get home.  Even once we are home, the time goes quickly and I’m tired from a long day, and trying to maximize the time I do have with my kids.  Housekeeping is usually low on the list—the smallest piece of the pie.

The days that I am at home, balance swings more towards housework and quality time with children.  The hardest days for me are those where I truly need downtime and I don’t push myself to accomplish much.  I feel guilty, selfish and lazy. I want to have that perfectly put together home and fully homecooked meal ready for dinner.  But the pace of my life catches up with me sometimes, and I need a semi-catatonic day to reboot.

Instead of feeling guilty that you aren’t getting it all done in one day, look at the big picture.  It gets done, when it needs to get done, when you can get it done, when what’s most important has already been done.

Balance is individual.  I am amazed at the status updates I read on Facebook from a college friend of mine.  She never stops moving!  When her kids are napping or sleeping at night, she’s doing laundry and housework.  When my kids sleep, I sometimes don’t do anything!  But obviously for her, as a stay at home mom, cleanliness and organization and completion of tasks are important to her. 

We all have our priorities.  We all have those areas of our house that need to be clean or organized, lest we go crazy.  We also have those areas that aren’t as important. 

My balance is extremely individual.  I am a working mom in a position where I am the only one who can do most of my duties.  Sundays are workdays for me.  Yet, I’m off two weekdays.  Sometimes my job requires evenings or weekends.  It’s not just a job, it’s a calling, a lifestyle, it’s emotionally demanding at times.

I get in trouble when I compare my life to the life of a stay-at-home-mom, or a mom who can leave work at work.  My life is unique.  Thus my approach to my life must be unique.  And the balance I must achieve varies from week to week and I am the only one who can determine it.

We all have different personalities.  Our priorities and needs in life are individual.  And how we cut that pie each day will be different.  And that’s okay.

Own your own sense of balance.  Don’t judge another mom for her sense of balance. 

Take a deep breath and live your life, according to how God made you.  Just like it says in Ecclesiastes, there is a time for everything.  It does not specify how much time for each thing.  Because it’s different for each of us.

Just to recap…
Balance is almost impossible
Balance does not necessarily mean equal
Balance is individual

More tomorrow!

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