Balance. It’s what most moms are striving for. And it’s what I’m struggling with the most during my current season of life. As moms, we all have so many roles to fill. I can’t keep up with the needs of my family, friends, and work.
So, lately, I’ve been thinking that balance is bogus. It does not exist. It cannot exist. I have a mental image of a pan balance, and I want everything in my life to be of equal weight. I want to be an amazing mother who is fully present in my children’s lives. I want to be a supportive wife and friend. I want to stay on top of all the household chores. I want to be the best teacher encouraging all my students to learn and grow. I want to connect local moms through the blogosphere and help women feel less alone. I want to take time for myself and enjoy life.
This drive forces me to always be on the go. I move from one task to the next with no patience for anyone who gets in my way. I mean, I have important stuff to do. From meeting with my book club to football practice, to baking for the bake sale, to date night with my husband, my days and nights are jam-packed. And the guilt for not being able to give each thing in my life adequate attention just doesn’t go away.
I want to be the best that I can be; who doesn’t? But we can’t do it all….well at least do it all well. That’s why I constantly feel out of balance. There is no way I can physically and mentally get it done. With limited hours in the day, there is just no way. When I am fully present with my kids, the laundry piles up, and the emails in my inbox get ignored. When I work all day and come home to prepare a meal for the family, my kids make giant messes (or watch TV).
This constant up and down makes me feel like a failure most days. I’m constantly thinking about what I can do differently. I know I can say no to things, but I don’t want to. I enjoy all these things.
Recently, I brought this up to my therapist. I explained my thoughts on the myth of balance and that it’s just not possible. As always, she took a deep breath and told me I might not be looking at it the right way. To her, balance is finding a counterweight. Rather than doing everything, why can’t I choose one thing to focus on and be really good at it. Then the next time, focus on something else.
So maybe one day I plop the kids in front of the TV and do five loads of laundry and write that blog post I’ve been meaning to write. It’s not hurting anyone. My kids are happy, healthy, and seeing their mom work hard. To balance that out the next day, I might plan an impromptu lunch date at the park and turn off my phone.
Balance doesn’t have to mean doing everything equally. Balance can mean giving myself a break. Balance can mean delegating tasks and setting priorities. Balance can mean being flexible and taking one day at a time.