Like many children, my girls love playing with blocks. Well, not so much blocks as a leftover Jenga game that went unplayed for years until they discovered it in the back of a closet one day and deemed it "Castle Maker game".
They start slowly and diligently, teetering and tottering their blocks on top of one another to construct pony palaces and Barbie mansions until, inevitably, one of the blocks shifts (or gets nimbly knocked by her sister) and the whole shebang come crashing down.
This is how I feel about every day as a mother. This is the myth of balance.
People use the term "balance" like it's the new "amazing". It's the little black dress of motherhood vocabulary, and if you can't find it then you must be doing something wrong. You either need to relax more, or get more motivated. You need to wake up earlier or get more sleep. You need to work out more, or slow down and have a glass of wine. Yo
u need to get out of the house, or you need to stay in for once.
We buy into the notion that "You're right. If I just did _____ then I could settle into a routine and this whole thing would click together like a puzzle and I'd be able to calmly enjoy the whole picture in the present like I'm supposed to!"
But, we aren't playing with puzzle pieces - we're playing with blocks. And what we want so earnestly to be a perfect fit that has the security of a concrete foundation, often comes tumbling down around us in the form of disobedient kids, play dates that cancel, cars that breakdown, jobs that fall through, relationships that disappoint us, or whole myriad of other unpredictable life events.
Balance is not found. Balance is created.
So, how do we "create" this balance? How can I possibly find peace or calm in the middle of a toddler's screaming tantrum? What in the world am I supposed to do when I feel like a failure for bribing my child to take a nap or eat her broccoli?
I used to wake up almost every day thinking Either my children are worse children than any other children on the planet, or I'm a worse mother for not being able to handle them. I am challenged minute-after-minute by motherhood, and I would berate and frustrate myself for not being able to get a grip on balancing it all.
Until I realized...every mother in the universe feels the same way. Each one of our children have their challenges. Every day there are times we would like to reverse time and redo the way we yelled at our toddler or overreacted towards their actions or something we snapped at someone else because we were simply at the end of our rope. Ladies - you are in good company. You are not alone!
We create balance by SPEAKING OUT. We create balance by BEING HONEST, with ourselves and with each other. We create balance by counter-weighting the expectations we have for our lives with the reality that doing the best we can is more than ENOUGH.
I don't know about you, but feeling guilty sucks. It literally shuts me down emotionally when I already am exhausted by the practical things in life like making snacks and reading storybooks. I have no extra energy to extend to feeling guilty when I turn on Netflix for my kids instead of reading to them. I am simply too spent to pour into feelings of shame when I buy my kid a Happy Meal instead of sauteeing vegetables they will throw on the floor.
My energy is better spent elsewhere. My energy is a precious commodity. My energy is a limited gift that needs to be managed with the same gentleness with which I extend my friendship, time, and love. And I'm so ready to use some of this energy to stir up some TRUTH and project it out into your hearts and minds to ponder and absorb.
The myth of balance can be truly detrimental to a mother's heart. In the midst of such a beautiful and challenging season of life, I want you invite you to release with me the burden of balance. Together, we can strike an honest chord of friendship and expose the myth for what it is. Let's reach out to each other, share our stories, and sincerely create balance in our lives that encourages meaning, purpose, and perseverance in these young days of motherhood.
C'mon, mamas. Let's build each other up with these building blocks of truth. With enough of them, we might finally have a foundation to help change the world.