When I met my husband, almost 11 years ago, I was a month out of college and he was — how do I put this — a few years older than me. One of the first things I questioned him about was a tattoo on his arm. He told me that it symbolized “balance.”
Wait, what? Balance? I mean most of the guys I knew who had tattoos had manly symbols like “courage,” “strength” or “fearless.” Why did this guy have such a weak, in my opinion at that time, word tattooed on his arm?
I mean, here I was never really having many responsibilities. I had never had a full-time job, napped when I wanted, ate what I wanted, and pretty much did whatever I wanted. And this all-or-nothing girl knew nothing about balance.
Pretty quickly after that, I got thrown into the grown-up world and was slowly finding out that good things can come in moderation — eating, drinking, exercising, even working. But most of my world still revolved around me. It wasn’t until I became a parent, and approached the age that my husband was when I met him, that I truly understood and appreciated the art of balance, or at least attempting it.
It is now an ongoing battle in my life, an ongoing goal that I am always seeking to attain. You see my life, like all lives, is busy! At any given second, I should be doing about 20 different things. And sometimes I try to do that.
OK, I can throw in a load of laundry, set up a craft for the girls and talk them through it while I do the dishes. Then I can sweep the floor (again) and run the bath water (much needed after said craft). While they are in the bath I can check my work email and fold some towels.
My mind is constantly trying to multi-task. I’m not sure if we as mothers are born with that or it arrives as they place that baby on our chest. Sometimes, it is a great thing. Get the girls some distractions, and I can knock out some house work. And sometimes it comes with thinking too much.
I mean I cannot not (yep, that’s right, double negative) clean the house. Someone has to do the dishes. But I also have to sleep, work full time and love on my babies. Yes, I know the dishes will be there tomorrow — and sometimes I live by that. My dishes may wait a day or two, but they can’t wait a week!
Sometimes, I cuddle my babies until well past the third snooze alarm, but I still have to get up and go to work. (We are still working on the balance of them staying in their bed all night, but it’s just another task to add to my balance list.)
Oh, and I also have to throw in being a wife. Thankfully, that also means sharing the balance (although the man won’t clean a dish). He does, however, cook and do the grocery shopping. Because when we became one and parents of two, I had to release some of that control that I like to hold so dear and figure out how we can make the scale between us as close to even as we could.
It’s not easy. I often question if I as a mother have given my babies enough of me that day. You know, the good me. How important is it that my daughter puts her shoes by the door and hangs up her coat? Can I just take a break from nagging them for a night? Did I check on my work too much that night? Could it have waited until after bedtime or the morning? Did I put my phone down and my eyes up enough that night?
It is a constant work in progress, and I will be the first to admit that I don’t have all the answers. I have to remind myself that, even if I yelled too much that night, snuggled with them way past their bedtime (and mine), finished up some work at home, or just gave in and hung up their coat, tomorrow is new day.
I have learned to accept that some days, my career or maid side of the scale might send my mom side through the roof. But other days my mom side drives them through the floor. In fact, I am not sure that the scale is ever really at 50/50.
But maybe that’s the point.
Maybe, true contentment is not found in a straight, balanced line across mom life. Maybe, just maybe, it is actually found in the seeking — the joy of the journey — to attain it.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.