When exactly did we buy into this lie that we could (and should) indeed live a “balanced” life?
A quick search on Google lends all kinds of advice::
7 Secrets of Successful People for Living a Balanced Life
5 Tips for Living a Well-Balanced Life
How to Get Your Life Back into Balance
How to Create a Balanced Life
I’m calling bull, ladies.
Learning Bad Balance
From the time I was young, I was taught to balance. Balance on the beam, on train tracks, on anything linear. The notion evolved as I did:: balance grades, activities, friends. Make the most out of college; have a social life but make your grades. Use this time to figure out what you want to do with your life.
Move to a town while you’re in your 20s and somehow land the job you were meant to have and become some modernized version of Mary Tyler Moore. Land the dream guy, get a dog, have 2.5 children. (Must do before you’re 30.)
Take yoga. Eat organic food. Don’t drive a minivan if you can avoid it. Balance.
Somewhere along the road, we were fed lies and self-help books that told us if we just tried harder, got less sleep, and were all-around more organized people we could have the perfectly synced life. Our careers (whatever they may be) would be right on track. Our precious cherubs would have the perfect blend of all the food groups and bounce off to receive unmatched knowledge before one day saving the world. Our bank accounts will always be in the black because you, my friend, know how to be thrifty while still looking like you stepped off the runway.
Creation of the Mega Mom
Ladies…stop. We are all good at something but here’s where I think we get messed up. We see our friend Julia who is phenomenally good at bake sales. Never brings a store-bought treat. Like, ever. Brittany is over here nailing it at the party planning game. I wish I could be like that
The PTA mom.
The soccer mom with the best snacks.
The mom with the killer calf muscles. (Just, how?)
The entrepreneur mom slaying her dragon dreams.
The mom who finally wrote the book she said she would.
And then we take all of those fabulous friends and mold them in into one super mega mom and we look at her and think, I should be that. All of that. And you can’t. You simply cannot.
We were all given whole and complete packages that make up who we are and then because we lack certain qualities, we were given other people in our lives whom we can admire (and ask to plan our child’s parties).
Cast a smile on these beautiful mom qualities and celebrate them, don’t absorb them. Magnify your excellent qualities and give them with abundance. Maybe you have exceptional administrative skills and can organize the bake sale/food drive. Kudos! If that’s not you, don’t try to make it you. Think of it this way, you could be robbing someone else of their chance to shine.
Life’s Balance Beam
I invite you to stare down your balance beam. What belongs there? As you dust off your hands and step onto that vault in whatever season you are in, what can you bring with you?
For me, my mentorship with my high school students brings me immense joy. I promised them if they stayed, I stayed. It stays on my beam. (After they graduate, it may be benched for a year.)
Currently, being a children’s ministry volunteer is a little too much for me emotionally. Off the beam.
The book club that I so eagerly wiggled my way into wants me to read a novel a month and I’m doing well to finish one a quarter. Off the beam.
Dinner dates with some of our favorite couple friends. Life-giving. On the beam.
This will change with the seasons of littles. Seasons of life. Living a balanced life isn’t about having it all and making it all work in every aspect of your life while crushing your soul. It’s about balancing what you can and letting the rest fall (even if that’s painful for some of us).
If it’s absolution you need friend, let me formally give it to you. You are resolved from guilt; from the need to be everything to everyone in every facet of life.
Let’s redefine what having a balanced life means.