Sunday, April 12, 2015

On Finding Balance

As I sit here typing with a crick in my neck, I imagine a colonial mother carefully dipping her quill in an inkwell and moving her hand fluidly across the page.  I am her, she is me. We are both mothers, writing. She at least partially educated her children at home, so do I in the 21st century. Poetry and verse tend to bring two mothers and writers together.

For a long, long time I believed that I had to be a mother. Solely a mother. I don't like to say "only" a mother, as it implies diminishing this all-important, encompassing role. However, in being a solely a mother I forgot myself. Yes, I tried to do some things here and there to find myself again, but the demands of three children was alive and real, and my life was all about the kids. I still put them first, but now it's different.

I matter too. And I'm not being petulant about it or passive aggressive. I've learned to watch the kettle and see when the steam is about to rise. I turn off the switch and make some tea.

A wise, older friend told me this years ago. "Take care of yourself," she told me. "Don't feel guilty for taking some time off. You can take even more time off as you're with the children all day." Even though I understood in my mind, I didn't completely understand in my heart. The heart has to be swayed, swept away. A few years later I understood. It took the image of the mother on board an airplane putting on her oxygen mask before she put one on her child to really reach me. How could I be the best mother I could be if my resources were depleted?

So at thirty-eight and with children 11, 7, and 4, I'm seeking balance. It's a funny thing, this seeking balance. Once you start taking care of yourself a bit, your worldview expands and you enjoy life more. You keep seeking balance in everything - your relationships, your homeschool day, your spiritual life with God. The crucial matter is I let God take care of me now.

I know He does, He always has. Just like a toddler who shouts impatiently, "me do it myself!", I used to think that I could handle everything on my own. But now when I feel overwhelmed I stop and listen - I step out of the way and I let Him. I let Him help me. Balance. It makes all the difference.

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