The word balance has been haunting me since the moment I became a mother. I see it on my Instagram feed and the blogs I read, and people keep telling me to “find it.”
This b-word seems to be what all of us mothers are ultimately striving for. If I can just find balance, and be present, and enjoy each moment with my toddler, then I’ll feel like I can breathe again, right?
As mothers, we are juggling everything. Sure, some of us are fortunate enough to have spouses who are incredible teammates and extended family members who are willing to lend a helping hand. But, the battle is accepting the help and letting go of the control. I am sure doing so would help achieve this so-called “balance,” but there is something about “doing it all” that makes me believe I can prove my value as a mother and wife. (Check that one under the “skewed mindset” box!).
As mothers, we are trenching through the physical demands of less sleep, bouncing babies, and wrestling our toddlers during diaper changes. But, it’s the emotional demands of motherhood that are far more complicated to explain to our partners and loved ones when we reach our breaking point. Did I schedule his well-visit appointment? Does he have enough diapers? What healthy meals can I make that he won’t stick his nose up to? Will he be a kind human? Will my marriage survive when we become empty nesters? Does my child feel like they’re getting enough of me? What about my spouse? What about my friends and family? When’s the last time I walked the dogs? What about ME?
This internal rhetoric is a bad dream on repeat, and I feel emotionally exhausted at the end of the day. This self-talk coupled with other people’s opinions start creeping into my “balanced life,” and the guilt sinks in. I question if my career is worth it when I can’t stop thinking about my toddler screaming “MAMA!” at the top of his lungs at daycare this morning. Sometimes I don’t think of my son at all because I am so busy with work, then I feel guilty that I didn’t think about him. I don’t talk to my husband until 8 p.m., and then I’m too exhausted to talk about anything. My brain is on constant overload, and it’s all stemmed from this unrealistic cloud of balance hanging above me.
I know I’m not alone in this because every other mom I know seems to complain about the same. It’s as though none of us have figured out the secret to having 48 hours in a day, showering, exercising, putting our laundry away the same day it’s folded, and making nutritious meals for our kids. Maybe we haven’t figured it out because it’s, quite frankly, a lie.
Maybe the secret to balance is that it will never be there. It’s a fictional state of mind that pushes a notion on us as mothers, and, in turn, to our children: perfection is what we should be striving for in order to feel worthy and put together with a pretty little bow.
Balance, to me, is just another word for perfect. If we feel balanced, then we must be handling all of our responsibilities perfectly. I’m tired of hearing about work-life, marriage-children, or self care-motherhood balance and, instead, just want to be validated when I say this season is hard and that raising happy kids surely has to be enough.
Maybe balance is falling off that high tight rope in order to get both feet firmly on the ground. Maybe it’s giving ourselves a break and seeing ourselves as the superheroes that our kids do. We sacrifice our balance to provide balance for our children and our families.
This season of the colder months is the perfect time to enjoy this unbalanced life we’ve created. No matter how messy the house is or how many pounds you have to lose, your children are obsessed with you, and you should be, too.