Recently I went on a quest. As I have been progressing toward better health, I have been trying to organize and prioritize my life again. Cole was 15 months old when I got sick. He is now coming up on the two-and-a-half mark and has turned into a talking, galloping little boy. He needs different things than he did a year ago. I was trying to figure out how to be a work-at-home mom when I have a munchkin who is a constant distraction and delight, wanting to sit on my lap while I am at the computer, constantly needing something cleaned up or gotten out or turned on. If he’s not throwing a tantrum when things don’t go his way, he’s looking for a hug and kiss to remove the bumps and bruises of life.
I am a researcher by nature. To solve problems, I like gathering information and then using the bits and pieces that mean something to me to formulate a plan of action. As I faced the dilemma of how to balance my work, motherhood, my health, and all the other things that I have slowly started to merge back into my life again, I began the research process. It was informal but highly trustworthy. I asked other working moms, friends who I admire and want to emulate, what they do to find balance in their lives. How do they make decisions about their time and pay attention to all the things that are important?
One friend that I asked this question to, gave a little response, but then said, “Let me know what else you find out. I would love any tips you get!” Which, of course, reminded me that I am not the only one trying to be more successful as a mother or simply as a woman. After gathering information and ideas, anecdotes and experiences from working moms that I trust, I have formulated a plan of action for keeping balance in my life. Here’s what I sorted out for myself.
My life is not what others would consider “balanced.”
75% of my existence is taken up by my child and husband with some home responsibilities thrown in. With the final 25% left over to squeeze in work deadlines, church service, and all the other stuff like…read a book or chat on the phone or finish a project.
And I’m ok with that.
I don’t think that right now, as the mother of a two-year-old, that there is supposed to be an “even” division of my time, with 15% going toward my family and 15% going toward my church and 15% to my work and 15% to my home and 15% to my hobbies…etc. My child is two. He needs attention and help and a playmate and time with his mom. My husband is a quadriplegic. He needs attention and help and a playmate and time with his wife. That’s what matters right now. That is the season I am in. Does this mean I don’t do other stuff? Of course not. But balance right now means something completely different than it did before Cole was born. And balance means something different than what it will probably mean when Cole is in school full time or going off to college.
I think that true balance is paying attention to the things that matter most at the time that they matter most.
Ahhh! The revelation!
I don’t need to work like a crazy person right now. But I definitely had to as I was building my business a few years ago. So although it was necessary to work my guts out in the beginning, work doesn’t need to take up most of my time at this stage. And here’s the trick…no one can tell another person what is most important at that particular time. I believe that personal revelation from a higher power and our own common sense is what helps us work all that out as individuals.
So I’ve decided that balance is in figuring out what is the most important and feeling confident when we are paying attention to those things at each stage of our lives. A little asymmetrical but balanced still the same.
I was shocked by the freedom and confidence that this realization gave to me. I’m smart. And I can make smart decisions of how to balance my life appropriately for each stage in my life. This understanding empowers me and gives me courage. And it even helps me be a little more patient as I am interrupted half a dozen times while composing this post to to play “Who Can Eat the Goldfish Cracker the Fastest” game.
But just think! If I hadn’t paused to play, I would have missed out on the best little two-year-old laugh six whole times!
Enjoy the unbalanced balance, friends. And while you’re at it, the giggles and laughter of motherhood.