Thursday, June 24, 2010

Finding Balance

As I near my 30s (far too rapidly, might I add), I have come to value something in life that until this time really just hadn't been on my radar: BALANCE. Why is it so hard to find balance? It's not like it's magic, and there are no complex mathematical equations involved. It is no respecter of age, or money, or education... so why have I struggled so much to get and maintain it?

I work outside the home as a teacher. (Please don't use that as an excuse to hold me to the highest standards of grammar and punctuation. I try to do my best, but I don't teach English. And I make mistakes. Sorry.) Today Cassidy had to leave school because she was sick. So, in addition to bringing home a sick kid, I have to get everything ready in the middle of the day for a substitute, because things are different when I'm teaching and when someone has to babysit my class. The whole time I'm feeling guilty because I just missed work on Friday when Lauren was sick, and here I am missing again. It's not like I have to seek special permission to be gone for this. I have sick leave for the purpose of missing work when I or one of my children are sick. So why do I feel bad when I have to use it? It's like there's this constant conflict between work ethic and the desire to be the mother my children need. I just can't seem to find the right balance.

But the issue is there with the good stuff, too. There are all the social events, family activities, weddings, showers, professional development opportunities, fun things to do with the kids, trips to the gym... the list is virtually endless. With so many wonderful possibilities facing most of us, how do we find balance?

Well, I'll be honest. I don't have it figured out just yet. But I am getting better. And I talked myself out of feeling bad for missing work, because that was pointless. And I watched a movie with my sick kid because it made her happy. And I'm writing because it helps me think. Most importantly, however, I'm learning to say "NO." Not so much to other people as to myself. It's like I have to constantly run interference against myself to protect my sanity and the time I have with my family. I'm saying "no" to some of the activities that I know would be fun and enjoyable, because I just need to slow down. Nothing is enjoyable once you're past the point of exhaustion anyway. I'm re-prioritizing to focus on the jobs God has given me and nurturing the life and body I have. I never want to answer the question, "How are you?" with the word "busy" again. Because nobody cares how busy you are. We're all busy. But my girls will always remember how available I was. Oh, and if you're really struggling with balance, you can always tell your husband. Chad has been extremely helpful in helping me identify opportunities to practice using my new word. And he knows me well enough that most of the time I end up feeling like I made the decision on my own.

Good luck with finding your own balance. And feel free to offer up a prayer for me in your free time!