I have been watching (Yes, not reading.) Eat, Pray, Love on my DVR, in bits and pieces of course. I was not hoping for anything other than entertainment. However, at the end of the movie, some dialogue really caught my attention.
To set the scene, Liz has broken up with her boyfriend because their passion was overwhelming her and she wasn't maintaining her "balance" and routine. She didn't want to lose herself again, as is possible in any intense relationship and her friend, Ketut, asks why she ended it. The response is as follows...
Liz: (Tearfully) I couldn't keep my balance.
Ketut: Please listen to Ketut. Sometimes to lose balance for love is part of living a balanced life.
A common theme in motherhood conversations and blog posts is struggling with balance. The relationship between a woman and her family is intensely important. I also know that trying to be everything to everyone can be overwhelming and exhausting. I know that it can zap your life of fun if you let it.
I am a daughter, sister, wife, O.T., Christian, friend, mother, homemaker, foster mother, neighbor, and volunteer to name a few of my roles. It is so easy to feel as though, at the end of certain days, that I am not enough to everyone. Sarah Markley blogs about this today and Tricia wrote about the many "moms" we can be, yesterday. Check them out too.
We have 4 small kids and a lot of responsibilities that go with that. There is part-time childcare (Thank you Grandma), games, bus schedules, preschool, practices, school projects, therapies, church, case workers, meetings, paperwork, blah blah blah. This is a paradise of our own making and some days I can not believe that I am a part of this blessed life. I am SO thankful.
There are also times when I haven't given our marriage enough attention. My career and hobbies have been put on the back burner (but not gone). There are sleepless nights, phone calls not returned, birthday cards forgotten, books not read, thanks and prayer not given, workouts bypassed and less-than-stellar mommy moments because I allowed my stress to affect my kids. I jokingly told someone last night that when I got married I lost my last name (it is actually my middle name now) and lost my first name when I had children. I am now commonly introduced as, _____'s mom. There have been nights when I feel so unaccomplished and out of balance. Have you been there?
The definition of "balance" is different for every woman and every family. The sometimes polarizing debate of SAHM vs. WOHM is mostly futile in my opinion. After all, it is a blessing that most of us now have some choices. What is more productive is to remember that most of us share the common belief that our family's well being is top priority. At the end of the day, we are all probably still feeling a little overwhelmed.
It is essential to find a balance for your family and for yourself. It is not selfish to make time to focus on your marriage. After all, you are the earthly example of love to your children.
It is necessary to make time to be healthy (I stink at this.) and find outlets for your skills and creativity. After all, God has given you those talents for a purpose, right?
It is important to dedicate time for God, friends, and family. You will need each other for support throughout this life. Relationships are a gift and need attention to survive.
It is okay to admit when you need to be alone for a little while. After all, in an airplane, they tell you to put the oxygen mask on before you help others. You need oxygen to be the best wife, mother, and friend you can be.
My husband and I have date nights, however, not very regularly. So we order in and eat dinner together after the kids go to bed or we talk on the phone or text during the day. I have also been known to let my husband know that "I need 15 minutes." This break allows me to get off the hamster wheel for a minute and recharge. My friends have supported me through tough times and I want to spend time with them too. It is hard to coordinate but there is facebook and phone calls and the occassional Girl's Night Out...even a weekend in Florida once. I don't have the time, money, or space for some of the hobbies that I used to do so I blog, volunteer for the food pantry, or go to a friend's house for a few hours of crafting a couple times a year. I am sure that I could do better if I were more organized but this formula works for my family...for now.
I find time to do things other than parenting but statistically, my life is out of balance. However, this is our family's balance. Sometimes, it works like a charm. Sometimes, I cry on the kitchen countertop (true story) because it is all out of control. My balance doesn't look like your family's balance. Our goals are probably similar, yet quite possibly our methods are not and that is okay.
Most of my time and energy is spent on parenting, cooking, cleaning, driving for my family, reading about parenting, earning money for the family expenses, writing or talking about parenting, praying for my family, or planning or volunteering for something for them. It is out of balance as Liz told Ketut. However, this is the season of my life for a little imbalance and chaos.
Why do we do this to ourselves?? LOVE!! Oh how we love them!
Moms, be reassured by Ketut's response, "Sometimes to lose balance for love is part of living a balanced life."
Are you struggling with living a balanced life?