and that's okay...

All this time I've been seeking balance. In motherhood and in life. I had no idea I was striving for the wrong thing. I mean, I guess I did kind of know. Because I did write that one post about accepting imbalance quite some time ago. And I also did say that if I'm going to be such a perfectionistic parent, "I'm going to have to learn to take breaks. Real breaks."

But I didn't do it. I didn't accept that perfect balance is impossible and I did not take real breaks. That is, until I found myself drinking too much as a way to deal with my perfectionism and lack of acceptance of the way things are going to be in motherhood, imbalanced.

I was living in fear.

I still am, at least partly, don't get me wrong. I didn't have some lightening bolt moment that fixed everything, even when I quit drinking. I wish I could tell you that I had and then give you step by step instructions on how to have your own and then wala! we'd all have balanced lives.

That would be nice.

Here's what I know as of today, things I've recently learned that are helping me inch closer to this acceptance and contentment thing we're all, ironically, rat-racing after:

1) If we don't learn to let go of the guilt over taking care of ourselves, something will happen that forces us to set down our pride and ask for help. Maybe that will simply be a gentle and graceful thing, but I kind of doubt it. Usually it's something like an earthquake or an addiction or an illness.

(I am in no way saying that we will be punished with traumatizing events for not slowing down. I'm just saying that some of us won't learn to try to honor our own free time and to love ourselves until the inevitable hardships in life come along. And then we'll have to see a therapist or go to treatment or lay in the hospital to finally get it.) (I'm thinking it might be kind of good to get it before then, so when these inevitable life hurdles come along, it's a little less...uncomfortable to rely on others in our powerlessness.)

2) We try to find balance by shifting our schedules and working on being present when we do have time with our kids and we meal plan, etc. etc. etc. When really, all of that good stuff would fall together, at least part-way, naturally, if we were spiritually healthy and joyful. (How to do that is a whole otha post, friends.)

(I'm not preaching at you and although this "spiritually healthy" thing may sound really lofty, I believe it's the truth. Our soul health spills all over our lives if we're willing to nurture it.)

3) I was powerless over alcohol. I had to admit it, surrender to that fact and get help. There are still things in my life that I'm powerless over. We need to kick out the impostors, the things we think we need but are actually only distractions and crutches in large doses. We won't ever find a balance that helps us feel a bit more at ease, and maybe even serene, if we hold on to those things. There is no "at ease" involved in overindulgence.

(I'm talking addiction, but sometimes that's disguised. Alcohol, nicotine, pills, etc...those are the obvious ones. Those things that drive us can come in the shape of a computer or TV or shopping or food or self-hatred...the list goes on and on, and I also truly believe that every mother knows in her gut when she's giving too much to something.)

I'm right with you, friends. And we have to remember...we don't have to be perfect. Ever. We need to progress, to move forward, to take baby steps toward positive changes in ourselves and our lives. The comparing and perfectionism game will only keep us stuck. So often I look at myself on my own journey and want to just give up. As if growing more wise and healthy were a magic wand sort of thing. I want it to be, I hate waiting, especially on myself. All too often I ignore the strides I'm making and get frustrated that I'm not "good enough." This is one of my greatest weaknesses, to beat myself up and throw in the towel. My mantra these days really is "progress, not perfection."

It's good. You are good, and so am I, somehow.

We may never find that elusive perfect balance, but we'll be left saying, that's okay because I'm okay.

Just some food for thought, since I like to do a whole lot of my thinking out loud.

Rock on, Mamas.

Heather writes at The Extraordinary Ordinary

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