I’m not sure I believe balance is a real thing. I mean, I know it’s a word, and when you are standing on something high and you don’t fall off you are, in fact, balancing. But when it comes to life and living I’m not sure I believe it’s a thing. Well not for women like me. And maybe not for women like you, if you’re reading this.
I’m a woman who loves lots of things. I don’t want to stop learning or growing. I want to be a great mum, and a beautiful friend, and a hot wife and an ace sister and a funky aunty and a loving daughter and granddaughter.
And I want to be amazing at my job, and make a difference in the world, and read 42 books at once and learn new stuff daily and talk intently to people about new stuff and dance in the kitchen and go to the beach and eat healthy and have a full and happy life.
I spent so much of my life wondering if it was possible, the concept of “having it all” and having work/life balance and not feeling guilty about fucking up some part of another (like swearing in your first blog post and it putting people off) at least once a day. I thought perhaps it would better if I was less. Or if I did less. Or if I lowered my hopes and dreams. I tried all those things. Sometimes for years, and it didn’t make me feel balanced. I didn’t feel overwhelmed but it did send me down the other crazy road of underwhelmed. Not what I was after either.
So I decided to stop trying for balance. To embrace the part of me who is a bit (lot) crazy, and a bit (lot) loud, and bit (lot) ridiculous and unapologetically be her. And to go for gracious juggling instead. Sometimes you will drop a ball (or three). Sometimes you will swear. Sometimes you will get thrown off because some of the balls need to go a bit faster or a bit slower or a bit higher or just get out of the whole cycle. Some of those balls (especially the ones who are your children) will be uncontrollable. In all of that you can still be gracious though.
Graciousness comes from a deeper place in you. You know it. You feel it sometimes, when everything is just flowing like it should and so much is getting done and your are WINNING. It’s natural but not naturally easy. But it can be. So this blog, and the work I do is about that. Helping us all, as woman, not be less and not hide ourselves or our gifts in the impossibility of overwhelm or underwhelm. But to just be all of who YOU are that is possible in where you are in your life right now. This is not about perfection. It’s about realness.
Here’s something I wrote a year or so ago. In the depths of sick kids and snotty noses. Two of my girls had the day off school on this week because they were”sick”. By 8.30am I wanted to throttle Miss 6 because she said being sick was “boring”.
My girls are all healthy today but it made me realise once again how tricky the balance is. And as a woman, finding balance is like the panacean of life. And just to make sure I’m covered here let me pre-empt this rant by clarifying that I truly do love my kids more than work. Any day. Just not the bits of mothering that challenge me to be more when it’s not all that fun. Except the times when I am more, and then it’s easy….
I love my job. I love working more than dealing with sick kids. I love working more than stacking the dishwasher and hanging out washing. I love working more than doing the school run with a screaming toddler. I love working heaps more than grocery shopping, sweeping the verandah, negotiating outcomes when there is only one pram and two small children, and way more than tantrums at bedtime by a small creature who is overtired.
I have a great job and as far as it goes I’m really, freaking good at my job. I work with people. Sometimes people throw tantrums, but as an adult you can generally get them to recognise it and look at the pattern of behaviour that might be holding them back. With a two year old tantrum I find it hard to be that patient, and not say things like, “don’t be ridiculous, here have something to bribe you to stop making that foul noise (chocolate, Dora, my Iphone) and I might just go into the office for a while and do something I enjoy more than this” (accounting, cutting my toe nails, online grocery shopping). I’m no doubt instilling beliefs in them that will support a tantrum as a useful pattern of behaviour later in life. Alongside the one where they remember their mum worked all the time.
I don’t even feel guilty anymore for admitting to not loving those bits of motherhood that drive me nuts. I’ve transcended Motherguilt apparently (ha ha, I think if it’s still a term in my vocabularly this can’t be entirely true, but it sure sounds powerful when I say it!).
I’m quite OK to say “oh snotty tissues just aren’t my thing” and be OK with them wiping their noses on their sleeves (oh gross, I hear you say, does she really admit she lets them do that???), and later on knowing that I’ll love them so much more and want to snuggle the soft place under their necks when they’ve had a really long and very bubbly bath.
I admit I’m not a gracious mother of sick children, and although I am grateful that so far our illnesses have only been as simple as colds, snot, coughs and a couple of minor broken bones, in the moment of not even being able to take a quick wee because someone is utterly tragic you’ve left the room, I’m not gracious at all. And I honour mothers who are, and hope I can apply graciousness in other places in my life where it fits for me. For myself I have to acknowledge I have this driving force inside of me that believes I have a gift to share with the world, and being a warm and loving mother is part of that, but working at something I’m passionate about and has made me see what I’m capable of has enabled me to be a better mother than I ever would have been. The best mother is somewhere in between life passion and nuturing soul, juggling gracefully with arms outstretched.
What I dream of for my daughters is that they grow up knowing their own unique and divine beauty. And so to do that, I have to model it to them. So I’m not perfect, in fact I’m beautifully flawed, but I believe when they see me – the real me – the part of me that is so alive right now because she has finally discovered where she fits and what she’s meant to do, they will get a sense of their own beauty and possibilities. And not to think for a second that they have to be gracious when things suck, or pretend perfection on the outside is easy. And then they too will discover their gift and find a way to put all the pieces together for their own possibilities.