Monday, November 8, 2010

Balance doesn't exist...does it?

I should win an award for World's Most Inconsistent Blogger. In all of the October whirlwind, I couldn't find the time (or desire) one one day to write. I'm okay with this.  Life is busy, very busy in fact!  So  busy, that in the back of my head all month was this question: is it really possible to be balanced?  And if so, what does that mean?

The month of October was full of activities, responsibilities, and deadlines.  Between an increased work schedule, moving, school, and everything in between, sometimes I'd find myself asking "what kind of nut-job puts so much on their plate?"  The question of course is ME.  Friends would say "wow, how do you balance it all?", or "why do you do that to yourself" or "you really have your hands full".  I was starting to second guess my own sanity.

I would fall asleep pondering questions of balance and the realities and perceptions of working moms.  Am I seen as a mom who has no balance in her life?  Do my kids see that in me?  Do I see that in myself?  And perhaps more importantly; what is this elusive thing people call balance?

You can't find a definition of life balance in the dictionary.  So I'm making up my own.  In doing so, I decided that  life balance cant be established with any sort of scale, it's different for each person, and when you think you've achieved it, life changes.  It always changes. Balance for me is feeling fulfilled, contributing meaningfully to my family and to my community, doing things I love, feeling challenged doing those things, continuing to learn, and still having time to enjoy it all.

Because I love lists, and because I didn't know how to evaluate my own sense of balance without looking at my own experience with it, I decided to record my Balance History.

MY BALANCE HISTORY (or lack thereof)
  • Before I had kids I worked full-time, and had lots of fun when I wasn't working. I felt balanced.
  • I had a child, worked full-time, commuted into work, tried to maintain a social life.  I felt balanced...until I didn't.  
  • I had a second child, quit my job, became a stay-at-home mom.  I love it.  I felt balanced, but something was missing.
  •  Started my own home business of making and selling handcrafted baby items, sold every weekend at the Portland Saturday Market, felt balanced.
  • Got pregnant with 3rd child, felt unbalanced...quick the market...balance regained.
  • Had a baby, continued to stay at home.  Still loved it.  Felt balanced (most of the time). 
  • Settled into my role as a mom of 3 but something was missing....oh balance.  
When my youngest turned one,  I started working again.  I started with just a few hours a week and over the last year and 1/2 have tripled those hours.  I've surprised myself by learning to manage all of the responsibilities.  And guess what, I feel balanced.  I love my kids, and I love my job, and I love all of the other things I do that make me me.  I may look unbalanced, but for me this is balance.  It's busy, it's challenging, I feel good about the work I do at home, at my job, and in my community. And I take time to enjoy it.

Of course I couldn't do it without help.  And to maintain balance is knowing that it will change.  Tomorrow is a different day.  Tomorrow, I may have more work, or more laundry, or I may have a little one who needs more snuggles.  I go with the flow, ride the days as they come and try always to remain flexible.  I'm no different from other mothers (working or not), balance is what we do.  In various ways, with various influences, we all play the balancing act.  And we all hope tomorrow is as good as today or better.  

And November brings me something to be thankful for: rest.