8/20/08

Adjusting to Imbalance

A friend (who is similar to me in a million ways) was asked something in regard to parenting and her answer was along the lines of, "yeah, it's good. I mean...I'm adjusting." Her oldest is almost five. We had a good laugh over that one, but I feel the same way. I love my family. I wouldn't change a thing. (Well, okay I'd sleep more if I could change one thing. Oh! And less poop, I'd appreciate less poop.)

I admit that at times, I resist the complete sacrifice that is required of a mother, at the same time as I fully love being a mother. Such a strange paradox. A tension. A dichotomy. It's tiring. It is one of the many things about parenting that there was no way to prepare for.

Because of this tension, I wear myself out between acting out of a complete and consuming love for my boys, and feelings of shame over the moments that I feel frustrated; fighting for my own time, begging for myself, for my own head space and rest. At times, I dive fully in to time spent with these scrumptious little morsels, loving every moment, word and expression. Other times, I fall into a heap of martyrdom, fussing and fighting this exhausting role.

No matter what a mother's situation; if she waited a very long time to have kids, if she got pregnant quickly and easily, if she works or stays at home, if she adopted... there are times when the weight of this responsibility feels too heavy. Times when she recognizes that even after the sleepless nights have passed, it will not get easier. There are always new hurdles, stages, sorrows and joys. We don't get to know how it's going to be. We don't get to plan and prepare. We are never ready. And sometimes that's overwhelming and a bit scary. For me anyway. Because I love these boys so much, I so badly want to make right decisions for the life of our family, and then watch them thrive as they pursue lives separate from mine all too soon.

But I'm not all that good at making decisions. I want to try and I will. I want to focus on God's hand in this, remembering He's there and completely in love with my children. He's ready with over-flowing cups of wisdom to pour on my mothering fears and questions. Sometimes I'm just too tired to take the time to ask for a drink. To slow down and rest in His promises. I so easily forget.

Finding balance is probably one of the trickiest things about parenting. Balancing parenting with alone time, with your marriage, your spiritual life, your other relationships, your work, the list goes on. Balancing life while still sacrificing as much as parenting calls for, will I ever know how to do that? I feel spread so thin, I'm only leaving a tiny part of me in any one area of my life.

I often wonder if it's a good idea to accept that imbalance is an inevitable part of mothering. Accept it and be freed from the tension, the pressure and the unreachable goals? To let God do His work despite me. That's a hard thing to do as a recovering perfectionist/control freak. To just let go and trust, doing the best I can, even if my best doesn't feel like quite enough. It just so happens that my best is all I've got. And it just so happens that God is the ultimate perfectionist. He can take care of the rest. Now if I could just remember that...

15 clicked right here to comment:

Rebecca Talley said...

I know I've felt the conflict between loving my kids so much and being so exhausted I can't even deal with them.

And, yeah, I could do with less poop, too--I've had diapers at my house for over 20 years!

Becky said...

It really is all about balance, isn't it? I so wish that I could be consistent, too, instead of swinging from the mom who feels guilty enough to let the kids get away with anything to the mom who has 101 rules and expects all of them to be rigidly followed. The worst part is, I know. I know I swing back and forth; I know it works better when there's balance and consistency; I know how important my job is. Why, oh, why then is it so hard to remember all these things I already know? Maybe I should skip asking for patience or energy or good days. If God could just help me REMEMBER, those other things would probably fall right into place.

The Three 22nds said...

I am reading this book "Scream free Parenting". It is really good...it has definitely made me more aware of the times that I am allowing my kids to control my emotions. I let them control my moods with their behaviors too often! Ditto to Becky... why is it so hard to remember all I know on the hard days...

Peanut said...

We seem to be kindred spirits! I'm not sure if I feel relieved or not that you're still trying to find balance a few years ahead of me! I've been thinking about the same things lately... and thinking perhaps the answer is that life is always about trying to find balance. Maybe we are doing it right if we never feel quite balanced. Maybe we'd stop growing if we felt too balanced... and stop relying on God.

Peanut said...

Ok, maybe the week of camping has affected my math skills. It looks like you're only about a year ahead of me, not a few years! Forgive me please!

Kelly @ Love Well said...

Balance is a Big Word in my life. It's the answer to so many problems.

Right now, I'm out of balance, but not in a good way. I feel out of control.

But maybe that's partially what you're saying? That us perfectionists have to accept that life will be a little out of control now that we are mothers? Hmmm.....

MoziEsmé said...

Great post! Balance is TOUGH - thank God He is ultimately in control!

Eowyn said...

This post actually made me tear up a bit because I am struggling with this so much right now. This is so difficult to master.

Adventures In Babywearing said...

Oh, we all feel this way (at least I do!) Allowing for that imbalance and ebb & flow is how we ultimately find our "groove" in it all, I think!

Steph

heather of the EO said...

Kelly,
So true, there's a tricky line between a healthy imbalance and an out of control craziness. So hard to teeter. (what a funny word!)
Like Eowyn said, so difficult to master!
Peanut,
YES! I love what you said, about how we'd stop relying on God if we felt balanced. So true.
Becky and the 22nds say what I struggle with most-remembering!
So this post was largely me thinking out loud and wanting to document what I will soon forget. Again.

MommyTime said...

This is really profound in its observations about the pull and tug of parenting -- that it's possible to be intensely happy one day and feel overwhelmed and out-of-balance the next. It gives me hope, too, that I can work through my own issues in this regard. Thank you.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Sometimes the balance seems completely out of reach for a while, but stuff generally falls back into some kind of order in the end. That's what I keep telling myself anyway. Great post. :D

emily said...

My balance is imbalance!

The Mama's said...

This is so beautifully written. I could not agree more with all of it. I especially love the visual picture of God with his cups of wisdom.

Thank you for this nugget!

-Ali

Jordan (MamaBlogga) said...

Well put! Thank you for sharing the link with me!

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