Monday, June 20, 2011

Balancing Act

Allow me to describe a regular occurrence at our house. Matt sits in the living room watching TV while I pick up in the kitchen. (I'm not poking at him for not helping. This situation also happens in reverse quite frequently). He hears a loud crash and yells, "You ok?" I yell back, "Yeah, I'm fine." When I finally come back into the living room to join him on the couch, he says out loud what we both know just happened, "you knock over one of your balancing acts?"

Balancing act... a phrase Matt got from his dad who uses the same words to tease Matt's mom about her clutter. It's quite an accurate description of the condition of my house. You would never know it by walking in the front door though. My house (for the most part) appears clean and organized on the surface, but open any cabinet or drawer or dare to venture upstairs and you will find things stacked poorly on top of other things just waiting for the right nudge in the wrong direction. Crash! Although I often blame my tiny house and lack of storage space, I also need to take some credit for my inability - or perhaps unwillingness - to recognize when a tower has taken on all that it can handle.

After Reese's first birthday, we retired a bunch of clothes and toys and other baby items to our upstairs storage room. As I looked for an open spot, my eyes scanned over all of the "stuff" in that room - kitchen appliances, my yoga mat, cookbooks, baby toys, the vacuum, lawn chairs, wrapping paper... you name it, it's up there. I couldn't help but notice that the storage room looks a lot like my life. Every item represents something that I'm constantly trying to fit into the days and weeks that seem to grow shorter with each passing year. Every crash of a balancing act represents the days when emotions get the best of me as I realize that something's gotta give. And the fact that my clutter is stuffed in cabinets and stacked in closets represents my ability to look calm and organized on the surface even when I feel like I'm scrambling on the inside.

One of my biggest struggles as a mom is finding the right balance of everything. I feel like I'm always lacking in some area, and every time I try to fix it, something else gets demoted to the back burner and another thing falls off my radar completely. The weeks that I try to be better about meal planning are the weeks that I don't exercise. So I try to exercise more, but then I neglect my housework. So I try to clean more, but then I don't play with Reese enough. So I try to play with Reese more, but then I don't cook as much. So I try to cook more, but I don't have any meals planned... and the cycle continues.

Unfortunately, I have yet to find a solution to this problem. Even more unfortunately, I think that might be because there isn't one. At the very least, I take comfort in knowing that everyone seems to have the same problem. The best we can do is recognize the limits of our balancing acts, avoid stacking too much in once place, and give ourselves the leeway to knock one over once in a while. Just know that while you're doing this, every other mom you see is doing the same thing. We all look calm and collected on the surface, but underneath it all is one giant balancing act.

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