Busy/still…work/play…give/take…social/alone…confidence/anxiety… All day long, all week long, all year long, all lifelong, I battle with these polar opposites. And I know I’m not the only one- I grew up watching the cartoon devil and angel sitting on each shoulder of a large variety of television characters, pulling for good and evil. The big puzzle is how to find and maintain balance in the face of everything pulling for my time and attention. When and where and how can I be quiet and alone, ever? Balance is a moving target which seems to depend almost entirely on outside forces. What are the kids doing? What is my husband doing? What does work require? What does home require? When are friends available? When is the dentist available? When do I finally get to the point when I am yelling “STOOOOOPPP!” and find a place for a time-out?? In reality, it’s my ability to react and be proactive that helps me find balance. Way easier said than done.
Our personal and family motto has always been “work hard, play hard” and we take it very seriously. If you don’t believe me, ask our kids. Or some of our friends…I constantly hear, “I don’t know how you do everything you do.” When we were raising the children, they were our #1 priority. Dinner every night together at six; bath and bedtime routines; sports; day trips; playdates; school work; vacations; pool time: sleep was a commodity and alone time was my thirty minute ride home in the car from work. I was emotionally and physically stretched thin to the point of nearly breaking. Even vacations were work for us (see my post So Tense). My husband and I tried to find some date-nights but in truth we knew the time with kids would be short and sweet, and we enjoyed it so much. Date-nights were just not a priority. We would tell each other that G-rated joy would suffice for the next twenty years, and in retrospect it really did.
Aside from raising kids, since we didn’t have any the first eight years of marriage and don’t have any at home in the present, other things pull us in different directions. We like to have fun of the not-G variety; but can only really enjoy it on weekends and vacations. We are both givers, and enjoy being able to help others; taking is not something either of us do well, but we are working on that (correction: I am working on that for both of us). We love our friends and value our time with them; but need to take some time for us and for each of us. We have learned to live parallel lives as opposed to enmeshed lives- we respect and like each other as people and work to keep from monitoring each other’s every choice. That’s huge. It involves finding balance between caring and controlling.
It has taken me YEARS to become this reflective and to feel somewhat balanced. I’m currently coasting along, knowing that there will be blind curves and trees down in the road ahead. I am hoping that this period of my life will give me the strength I will need for the rest of it. Wish me luck!