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...

6 comments:

  1. So wonderfully put. I have to constantly remind myself that I am not in this alone - to ask for that wisdom and drink it up! Thanks for putting so many confusing feelings into eloquent words.

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  2. The mother's plight...This is a post that a friend shared on her blog several months ago. It really had a profound affect on me as a mother and the value I do have as an individual.


    I am invisible. It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please." I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.



    She's going ... she's going .... she's gone!



    One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean.. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, " I brought you this." It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees." In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

    * No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.
    * These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.
    * They made great sacrifices and expected no credit..
    * The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

    A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it." And the workman replied, "Because God sees." I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become." At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there." As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot see if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

    nuff said!

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  3. cutler's-
    I've read that! I have no idea where or when, but I remember LOVING it. Thank you for sharing it here.

    And shelby,
    thank you. Yes, so easy to forget we're not in this alone. And I'm so thankful, cause I'd be in BIG trouble if it were all up to me.

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  4. I love this post! ADJUSTING TO IMBALANCE!...

    Since I got married and moved to The Netherlands I felt a bit lonely. New country, tons of unknown things to figure out (paper work, permits, finding a house... how we get a doctor?), Harold and his new job at the university (getting adjusted to the European system, which is totally different to the American one), no friends, no family, and boss in the distance demanding that data base done!... We survived... or I should say, I survived... and I tell you that it was tough!... Then I got pregnant and I felt the happiest woman in the world! I thought God heard my prayers and grant me with a little being so I won't feel lonely anymore... I had 4 big bleedings and I thought I was going to loose my precious gift, but we manage to get to the hospital on time: I will never forget the joy of hearing her tiny heart beat! And after Margui arrived and my life was all messed up and up-side-down but with any regret... Or maybe I have one...
    We always talk about our kids... I agree that it the most challenging thing I've ever faced... But what makes sometimes my life really difficult is my husband! Because of his nature, he gets super-focus in his work and that means he is in his own planet... We don't exists... he doesn't see me: how tired, how sensitive, how whatever!... He thinks I am though I can get through everything, and that if I need him I will look for him... Ok, ok, that's fine... but what about looking at what you have around? I know he doesn't take me for granted but, I tell you sincerely, he is not a help! He is like another baby, even more demanding!!!
    What's wrong with men?
    When I am very fed up of his sillynes, I tell him he should spend just one day at home, without talking to any adult, cooking, cleaning, and attending our little one, kicking his butt to run to the supermarket (which here close at 5pm!), etc, etc, etc... and when it's time to rest, wake up a few times because Margui is crying or, even worse, because some horrible and loud snoring!
    Being a mother is challenging... being a mother and a PATIENT wife, who is at the same time a mother to him, is even more challenging!
    Anyway, I love my Harold to death... and little by little, after 3 years, I get him and know how to deal with him without expecting. He is what he is, and that's the way I feel in love with him. And he gave me the most precious gift: my beautiful daughter!

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  5. I also love this post.

    Cutler's - that is such a beautiful response. We may just have to post that on Mama Manifesto for all to read. So well put. Thanks for sharing all of that. I think I got some of that in an email before, and I love it. Such a beautiful picture of sacrifice and work behind the scenes. These are our masterpieces.

    I am learning soooo much about learning to lean on God and not my own strength in so many areas of my life. Parenting is just one of those areas. I love that verse that talks about if you lack wisdom, just ask. Oh boy, I am asking. :) I am with you on that, Shelby.

    Marga- Thank you for sharing so vulnerably. I do think that we have all been given the most precious gifts in our children. It is a privilege to walk this road! Do you and your husband ever get a date night? One thing that has helped me and my hubby stay connected, even in the busiest times is doing the 5 A's every day. You can read about them in the post here: http://mamamanifesto.blogspot.com/2008/07/anatomy-of-tantrum.html

    Hang in there. Push through the loneliness. THanks again for sharing!

    -Ali

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  6. Love this post, Heather. Your sincerity just shines through here, and you stretch my mind as I read your musings.

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