Balance - Baby Steps in High Heels

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Balance

I laugh when friends and well-meaning co-workers ask me how I 'do it all' ... surely they're kidding. Most days I feel like I'm juggling about a dozen balls in the air, which could be fun, except that I do not know how to juggle. I can barely throw a single ball in the air and catch it with any level of intended accuracy.

We run in a million directions all week long, balancing kids' school and activities, our own work schedules (which are never consistent from day to day), friends, family, etc. In fact, I think I rewrite this post on a regular basis, changing up only our current set of circumstances -- ballet, soccer, and my business travel is what we have going on right now. In this season, we are also adding in orthodontics for my oldest and an amblyopia diagnosis for my youngest, which will require quarterly visits to a pediatric ophthalmologist.

Y'all, I do NOT have it all together. Not on my best day. What keeps me moving through are two distinct lines of thinking...

First, this is not hard stuff. For sure, it is exhausting. We don't just do soccer practice during the week and games on Saturdays. We also balance family who want to visit for those games with family who want us to sneak away after to visit them. We balance meal prep Sundays so that Thursday nights are easier when two kids have to be in two different places; meanwhile I'm on a 3 hour drive home from a work trip. It is most definitely exhausting, but there are real people in this world who deal with truly difficult issues. Gratitude for our capacity to lead these busy lives is ever-present in my mind.

I'm no some saint, though. I am not one who walks through life thinking about how grateful I am that I got four hours of sleep last night, but at least it was in a safe and comfortable bed. No ... I definitely struggle with gratitude, but I do my best to still keep it at the forefront of my mind.

The second mantra I am working on wrapping my brain around is this:

Having it all does NOT mean that we have to do it all.

I continue to hear that balance is a myth, and I adamantly disagree. It seems we have confused the idea of balance with the notion that it is only achieved if you're a baby food making, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, free range mom who has kids that excel in 17 activities while getting all As in school AND you work a high powered, high earning career that everybody accepts as successful and philanthropic. And you run 5 miles before 5:00 a.m. every single day.

Seriously. Just .... no.

Balance is NOT about doing it all. Balance looks different for every working mom. YOU get to decide what balance looks like for your family and for yourself. YOU get to select the areas of life that deserve your attention, your focus, and your time. There is as much power in saying no to the PTA hospitality committee if your schedule is full (or it's just not your thing) as there is in being the mom who bakes ALL the organic cookies from scratch for the PTA bake sale. If that's your thing.

I don't mean to preach here, mostly because I still struggle with this notion, as well. I'm the mom who feels like I'm not doing enough if I'm not doing everything asked of me. But I got to a point where I was doing so many things that I wasn't doing any of them well.

I started my 'recovery' process by simply saying no to things that didn't make sense for my schedule. There were often so many times that I could make something work, but it would require jumping through ridiculous, exhausting hoops. I don't do that nearly as often anymore. 

I am now in the phase of trying to say no to things that do not bring joy or fulfillment to me or my family. For example, my husband takes the kids to soccer practice ... both of them, on two different days of the week. Because it's hot, and I'm not good in those situations anyway. Bless all of you die hard soccer moms, but I know myself and I will not be the best mom that my kids deserve if I'm a hot, sweaty mess. Instead, I greet them at home, after practice, with dinner, quality time, and lots of air conditioned love. (And I DO go to the games.)

The point is, my kids have TWO parents (and an awesome grandmother who helps out most days, too). When we divide and conquer(ish) our schedule, a sense of balance begins to emerge. We are still busy. We are still exhausted more days than not, but we are less frantic, less stressed. And, yes, I am mostly talking to myself here, hoping for a self-fulfilling prophesy. There are plenty of days that don't run as smoothly as these words would have you believe, but there are more days now than ever before where I do find myself more grateful, accomplished, and balanced at the end of the day.

What baby steps are you taking toward balance?

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