Balancing Balance, Part I: Embracing the Truth

Note: I recently attended a gathering of homeschooling moms and was part of a panel of four mothers who answered questions submitted by the audience. The following question requires an answer much longer than I could give in five minutes, so I promised to write a series of articles about the topic. Here is the first.
Question: Balance, balance, balance????? It seems if I do well in one area (say homeschooling), then the home is falling apart. If we are doing well in the home, then being a servant is lacking because we are so focused on our home. Any strategies on balancing it all, at least well enough that I don’t feel like I’m a failure in all the roles I take on?
Balance is the overused, much-abused, always-elusive state we in the Western cultures spend our lives trying to achieve. We beat ourselves up about not being good at it while we assume most other people excel in it. We wistfully look back on short periods in which we think we had it, but we grieve that it didn’t last. We hope to get there again – next week, next month, next year, after the baby stops nursing, when we move, when the kids leave home. We think if we could just identify our purpose, organize our priorities, and discipline ourselves well enough, we could get our lives in balance once and for all and everything would be perfect!
I have bad news.
When it comes to balance, there is no “once and for all” and there is no “perfect.”
Think of straddling the middle of the see-saw. You stand with legs outspread, trying to keep each end of the board in mid-air. You feel your muscles tensing and easing, shifting over and over to keep the correct weight on each side of the center. Balance inherently involves flexibility, adjustment, and change. In fact, one might see someone balancing and correctly comment that she is always on the verge of becoming unbalanced, because also inherent in balance is that at any moment equilibrium may be lost to the forces that continually work against it – balance is always tenuous, something barely held onto.
Life balance, too, is tenuous and one must be able to flex, adjust, and change over and over again. This truth has to be embraced: when it comes to balance, there is no “once and for all” and there is no “perfect.”
Ok, you say, I get it. I have to get my life in balance now, but I’m gonna have to do it again and again in the future. Fine. I embrace the truth about balance. But how do I get started?
More about that next time. For now, be thinking about the big chunks of your life, the roles you inhabit – wife, mother, friend, homemaker, teacher? What about hobbies? What about work? What fills your days? What would you be lost without? What do you never manage to fit in? What do you always end up doing too much of? Just think. If you are a list-maker, you can write, but mostly just think. And don’t let your head explode.
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One Comment

  1. Posted September 18, 2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    This is a really great post! I am a young mom with young kids. I used to homeschool and now my kids attend a wonderful school nearby. To be honest. I’ve given up on balance but trying to find harmony or keep priorities for this stage of life. I find that I have less stress by focusing on keeping priorities. But you are right that there has to be flexibility for recalibration always. Looking forward to reading the next posts!
    Dija recently posted..Believe…your soul is worth it.My Profile

  • Your comment is the best part of this blog! Share what’s on your mind here.

  • In My Kitchen, In My Life is a place where women (and the odd male) can be encouraged, nudged, and occasionally kicked in the pants toward living their lives on a higher plane. Oh, and readers get plenty of chances to laugh at the author's foibles, which is always worth a click.

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