Thursday, February 24, 2011

Balance

Last week we had a warm day, didn't quite feel like February in our wintery locale, and I took my girls to the park. While I read, they pumped on the swings, and tried to butt-bump each other down the slide. Too, they spent time on the teeter totter, and I'm thinking back to their balance. Or lack of.
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There's a 2.5-year age difference, height and weight variances. My older daughter can easily sink low and hold herself, while her little sister happily flies high. That is, until they both tire and wish things were a bit more balanced. Something must change, they realize. Do they try harder, use more (or less) force? Hop down and walk away? And are they just taking a break, or moving on entirely?
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I often wish my own personal, existensial seesaw--life as a wife and mom at home on one side, work as a determined writer on the other--were more balanced. Typically one seems so much heavier, pressing its need at me, while the other lifts away, suspended, just out of reach.
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Pick a day and I'm perched on one side. Mom and wife. Errands, housework (laundry, dishes, vacuuming, cleaning my bedroom--which I thought wasn't an issue once you turned adult), phone calls, school functions, meals. Ack! And the next day I've climbed to the opposite end, writer. Blogging and networking and reading and studying and writing (and doubting and pep-talking).
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There are days I can't juggle all the tasks being a writer demands. Visiting friends' blogs (I'm sorry, friends) and finding new, relevant, relatable ones, or updating my own, or editing that last chapter, or squeaking out an assignment that isn't due quite yet.
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And then there are the days writing takes all my attention. It's the bill-paying I delay, calling on that volunteer project, loading the dishwasher, putting away the mounds of clean clothes (really, I'd rather just walk away entirely).
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What gets me is that I'm leaving something undone. Always, there is something undone.
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This balance thing is so tough. But I think about the example of my kids on the teeter totter, and how if they altered their positions, or pushed with a deeper effort, it may level-out better. Is that a lesson for me? For us?
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There are days I understand it's okay to leave the laundry. I understand that my family will not cease to function because there are no clean forks. Likewise, there are days I can rationalize to myself that it's not too likely I'll lose a blog reader because I haven't posted in five days, or that somewhere a red mark will appear next to my name because I procrastinated with an assignment.
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Maybe the balance is in my head. In what I tell myself, in the concessions I make, in weighing the heaviest side and choosing what holds the most at any given moment. Then again, maybe I have too much weight. Maybe I've pulled too much to one side.
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How does one know? How do you know? How do you balance?
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I think I'm going to closely study that teeter totter next time we're at the park. There has to be some way to figure it out.

15 comments:

Glynis said...

No matter how I try to balance my time, something comes along to push it over.
The art is knowing what is important, what can wait and what is no longer needed in your life.

Good post.

Jill Kemerer said...

Did you read my mind? I feel like I'm on the seesaw with you. Yesterday I spent the entire day catching up on house stuff--groceries, dropping off piles of donations to Goodwill, recycling, you name it! The whole day gone. And today I'm looking at a pile of dishes and not caring one bit. Writing took precedent.

(And don't apologize for missing blogs. I miss them all the time--and I love reading them. It's so hard.)

Indigo said...

"writing (and doubting and pep-talking)."

Yes and yes! I'm better at talking people through whatever they're dealing with and being supportive. More so than taking my own advice.

What helped me (at least I'm hoping it does as I just finished with this), I made an area of my own surrounding my desk. I needed a space cleared in my head and home to selfishly claim as mine. So much takes up the rest.

Life is definitely a see-saw. It's not easy carving out those minutes or even space in your head, but it's a necessary kindness to keep moving forward with our writing. (Hugs)Indigo

Janna Qualman said...

Thank you, ladies! I appreciate your insights, and it's always good when others relate to what I'm feeling.

Hugs!

Sharla Scroggs said...

It's never balanced...and I think anyone who says they've truly found that is heavily medicated. Something IS always left undone. My house is perpetually undone. I do what is necessary after working an 8hr day, I try to make sure everyone has socks and jeans (the two most yelled about items at my house), try to keep up with cleaning but it sorely fails. Then I try to get a little writing done every night. That fails, too. But I grab early morning weekends to even that out a bit. My daughter will be driving soon, and that will help, but also make me a lunatic, I'm sure.

Don't worry. Blogs are just blogs. Dishes are just dishes. Nothing will explode or set alarms off if you don't do them that day.

Watching your kids on the teetertotter...that's the good stuff.

Kelly H-Y said...

I am SO with you on this ... there DOES have to be a way! When you figure it out, please do tell! :-) Thank you for this post ... it was so relatable!

Diane said...

I usually run to whatever fire needs putting out the most and just do the best that I can. Hugs :O)

Terri Tiffany said...

I hear you. I started my new job this week and already I feel the balance tipping. Do what you can and love what you do:)

The Hat Chick said...

Teeter-totters are fun because they go up and down. It's the ups and downs that blow your hair and and give you that funny feeling in your tummy. I've given up on balance. It was making me feel bad. So some days I blog. Some days I vounteer. Some days I cook. Some days I have lunch with friends. Some days I do it all in one day.....yeah, funny feelings in my tummy all the time (and don't look at my hair).

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Here I am teeter-tottering about answering this.

The balancing act is a tough one. When I had children at home I had to snatch hours alone and I shut myself away in my herb shed, dried flowers and herbs drifting down on me whenever I moved. BAD for the computer.

Anyhow, I am torn between keeping my home and garden in order and creating. I feel so lucky to earn my living writing, but I earn my living writing non-fiction and I ADORE writing fiction. Fiction is my outlet and joy (just like gardening). I feel guilty when I dive into fiction and lose myself, but I need to do it so I can sustain my creativity...wherever and whatever that is.

How to balance the teeter-totter? I don't know. I just try to do the best I can.

Love,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

Melanie Hooyenga said...

I love this post. I'm sure it applies to all of us, and as always, watching how children figure it out is often helpful.

Love the pictures of the girls too. :)

Capri K said...

This is just a really hectic time in your life! I can tell you, from my place about 10 years ahead of you, that it does get better.

The kids do more for themselves, the house doesn't get as trashed, the school obligations taper off considerably after elementary school.

It IS about balancing, and recognizing that there are seasons in your life. Kids are a BUSY season.

Honey and I are shifting into a different season. In my opinion, they are ALL good. Enjoy where you are right now, it will change in a blink!

I am missing you though :)

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Been thinking a lot about this lately. We've been cooped up in bad weather, cancelled playdates b/c of sickie kids all week (break).

I get this.
~ Wendy

June Kramin said...

Wow - deep thoughts for play time :)
Nice post. :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Janna -

Your seesaw analogy is an apt one.

Perhaps the answer is to blend the two extremes. It's not always possible, but having a time slot for each segment might be helpful.

I also spend time with the Lord in the morning. Without that, my day gets derailed. When I'm synchronized with His agenda for the day, things go much smoother.

Blessings,
Susan :)