Since returning to work after my second sabbatical of maternity leave ( Yes, that’s what I’m calling it- it’s less invasive and then I can laugh it off), the word balance has been playing over and over in my head. I am constantly saying to myself balance, when I fall short for the day.
If you look up the word balance- it’s described as:
- an even distribution.
- Keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall.
Lately, the balance struggle has been real, so much it put me back into what I call the second sabbatical.
When I found myself emailing for work at 10:00 p.m. after working all day, dinner, baths, homework, dance class, Girl Scouts, church callings, running the books for my Dad’s construction business- it has occurred to me that balance is a MUST. I hadn’t been doing that. I had been running on super fast speed for so long, I didn’t even know how to stop- but my blood pressure made me. So I put the laptop away. I didn’t go to work. I turn the phone off. I took a time out from Rodan and Fields. I took my kids to daycare and gasp, I did mostly nothing. I went to the gym. I hiked. I went to the pool. I read for pleasure. What is that? Reading to just read. I haven’t done that since ummm- high school. I was told, if you don’t stop, you are going to be back in the hospital. You wanna see your kids grow up right? So I stopped. I wanted to see them grow up.
Let’s flash back to ummm 2002-
I had a recent conversation with a friend about the first time I was offered a beer. I had just turned 18. I was at a party in college. Guilty by association right? Eh. Everyone goes to parties in college. Hear me out- Sure I had seen people smoking pot in high school, heck I had even been ask to- but beer? Liquor? I had NEVER been asked to drink alcohol. Why do I remember this? Why is this relevant to balance? Why was me being ask to drink a beer vs. me being asked to smoke the wacky weed ( which I do remember but in not so much detail) pop in my brain when I was thinking of balance.
Hang with me.
Balance. MY ENTIRE LIFE I HAD BEEN TAUGHT THAT ALCOHOL WAS TABOO. When I was eight I literally sat in my family’s black Subaru with red velvet seats and watched the jaws of life try to pry open a single cab truck because a drunk driver hit my childhood best friend head on. She and her Dad did not make it, but the Mom did and they are forever etched in my hearts. I am 34 and I still go to her grave and take flowers. You don’t forget something like that. It could have been me. So alcohol- nope, it was taboo for many reasons. This was just the icing to the taboo topic.
ALCOHOL. That was the soul root of all evil. Not POT, NOT CIGARETTES, NOT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, NOT SEXUAL ASSAULT, the list is endless. BUT ALCOHOL.
Bless my sweet parents. They were the BEST. I love my Daddy with my whole heart. My Momma was the best of the best. I grew up LDS, part Pentecostal, and with a whole lot of praying and church services and not a single drop was part of my childhood. All my association to alcohol was bad. Bad things happen to good people that drink alcohol. Or so I had heard, learned, and witnessed.
At 18, in a townhouse on townhouse row, in Wise, Virginia – with people I met hours prior I can still smell it. I can tell where I sat. I can tell you what color the furniture was. The texture. The odd odor in the room, that well ( it’s college- but it together). I can tell you where Brandon sat. I can tell you the look Brandon gave me as the guy casually offered. He shot me daggers. Good ” don’t talk to him, don’t you do it, I’m your boyfriend” daggers.
I shook my head, ‘no thanks’….. and I looked around to see if the heavens had opened. I thought oh my gosh, my Momma is going to be here any minute. She is going to know I was around alcohol. I gotta get out of here. Bad things are going to happen to me.
Did it bother me as much as when I had turned down the pot offer in high-school? No, heck no I can only tell who was present- not the details- but this- this I was actually OFFENDED that this random guy whom I did not know at the time was called ‘Bulldozer’ offered me a beer.
I left the situation just as I had been advised by my sweet Momma and my forever hero youth leaders. ( By the way- these leaders are my modern day heroes). I flew out of there. Went back to my dorm room and I can remember feeling my heart racing.
It did not offend me that the girl was getting grouped, or that some other guy came in that was so high he couldn’t talk, but it OFFENDED me that there was a beer and that GASP- somebody might think I drank beer and that gasp- he offered it to ME! Who did this guy think he was? Did he not know who I was? What alcohol meant? I was at a college party- but I didn’t want beer or pot or to be grouped. ( When you are 18- girl, there is just no logic or reasoning).
There is SO MANY THINGS MESSED UP WITH THAT??!! First, I should have been offended that my soon to be friend would be crying later over some guy she didn’t know was trying to take her to his bed, or that the guy that came in high might actually have a drug problem. Or that Bulldozer was actually pretty nice, he just like lifting weights and beer- and honest; he just was trying to figure out who the dumb new freshman was.
Sure, I went through the local dare program, I finished my Personal Progress and I had a boyfriend that respected ( taboo again: intimate limits), but BEER?? NO WAY. HOW DARE HE?
There was no balance to that thought. No balance to the situation. NONE. What triggered this memory? I was thinking about things in MY life that were not balanced. My thoughts. My activities. My time. My thoughts on a trail in the National Forest have replayed this memory so many times. It was not balanced.
After Max, I was not balanced. Not even close. My thoughts- out of whack. My activities- out of whack. My body- out of whack.
I had to and currently the struggle is still real, but better- balance work and home life and the demands of being a Momma of two now. I have to not get offended at myself when I turn down a project, just say no to that crazy looming email in-box at 10 p.m., a dinner date with a friend, to yet another meeting after hours or to a Rodan event that I actually might want to go to, but holding my babies is more important right now. I had to let that guilt go and bring back the balance.
On one of my long hikes this summer- I remember my Grandma Scott’s saying:
” You can either swept that dirt under the rug, or grab that rug right up and sweep that dirt out of the house.” It was time for sweeping the dirt out of this old house.
All the dirt. The lack of balance. The lack of sleep. The lack of feeling like a normal human. It had to go- and out it went.
Just like alcohol, nobody talked me about how to deal with another taboo topic – OVERLOAD. That overload of life it was going out the door too. Give me the biggest shop broom you can find. It’s going out the door- ALL OF IT.
Was I ashamed? Absolutely. Just as ashamed as when Bulldozer offered me a beer at a college party. Absolutely. Because let’s face it- I thought I had my crap together. I thought oh yea, totally got this. Work, two kids, life, etc. I GOT THIS, but I didn’t. Nobody not even close to me had these issues. Not ever. Good grief, my mom suffered through Chemo treatments and still worked a courtroom like a champ. Defeated? That would be one word to sum up how I felt.
Once again at 34, I was absolutely OFFENDED at myself. I only saw how everyone else was perfecting life. The momma’s who did it all. They worked. They had perfect cross fit bodies after literally giving birth two weeks later. They had well manicured and children in every activity from here to there and perfectly cleaned homes with homemade dinners every night. The momma’s who wore heals everyday to work and their hair looked like they were in magazine. Or so I heard? hmmmmm…. if they could do it- I could too, right? I was wrong. SO. SO. WRONG.
Then a friend, sat me down and she said “girl, I love you- but you are too damn hard on yourself. You have seen my daily messy bun, right and my two year old that acts like a crazed person?” and then I cried. The first time I had let myself actually cry about everything with Max and the pregnancy and work and how I was so guilty about being a failure. She listened. Then she told me how hard it was on her going from one to two- and she knew how I felt.
After 8 weeks and a week long beach trip- when the crying finally stopped- I realized I had to bring the balance back to my life.
Currently balance to me is:
- 1st: Work is NOT everything. Yes, I said it. Nope, it’s not. Those emails will be there tomorrow and those cases I needed to pull- heck- those law books will be there too. And guess what? If they really want you to be in your job- they will listen and if they are nice people, they will work with you.
- Second: We talk about Taboo topics in my house. Whatever topic that might be. Currently, I had a conversation about why some kid’s don’t have the same Daddy. When my kids ask the hard questions. I’m straight up HONEST, honest in a way for little kids to understand.
- Third: Self- Care- Yes, I find myself yearning to go for a long walk and hit the gym ( even in this state of weight)- because it’s self-care. I yearn for girl time and for also just out there doing things that fill my cup that make me happy. Know what fills your cup- and DO IT.
- Fourth- Do I see having my faith in my life useful that balances me? ABSOLUTELY. I’m so grateful for my faith and relationship with God daily. I’m SO grateful that at night Mallie cuddles up and wants me to sing ” I’m a Child of God” and ” Mary’s Lullaby” and that we read scripture. I’m also SO grateful that she has a daycare program that prays with her and that she sees how others worship. On the flip, I am also SO grateful that she goes to public school and she is exposed to all kinds of experiences- BAD and GOOD and that she talks to me about the things she deals with. Yes, in 1st grade we’ve had to explain things. Shocked? Nope, not really. Remember I use to work in Criminal Law and when peers talk to her about their home life- you gotta explain it somehow to a little person. I’m so grateful that I’m stuck in the culture and that I see how the world interacts everyday and then it apply it to principles of my faith.
I think the problem is we get to hung up on good choices, better choices, the best choices or even the bad choices and we forget it’s all about how making those choices balances our lives. We focus on perfection and avoiding taboo topics that we forget that in the midst of perfection and taboo- we have to understand the gray area- the middle ground- the balance to all of that. The explanation. So yea, sometimes I eat french fries on Friday night while my kid runs around like a wild manic and I don’t care that laundry is piled and that the baby is really cranky. It’s called– this is the gray, the chaos, the balance to everything.
Job in the Old Testament even said while he was asking for God’s judgement , ” Let me be weighted in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity.” Job 31:6 I’m pretty sure if Job saw that he needed balance, the man who suffered for years upon years, the man who devoted his heart and soul – then we too can balance our life.
God- He knows my heart. He knows my goals. He knows my thoughts. He knows I’m trying my best and when I fall short, I pray that I will be judged on how I balanced it all and not how well I perfected one or two items on my list.
So, here’s to balance. May I figure out how to do it gracefully.