Finding “balance” and letting it go

I’ve had the word “balance” on my mind a lot recently, probably because the concept has felt elusive for a long time.

I try to grab hold of it by making the most of naptime and planning our days the day before, making sure we have a good mix of days in and days out, parent initiated activities and free play.

I sometimes successfully edge closer to it by going to bed on time.

I strategise for balance by sending my kids to a childminder (both girls for three hours one day and just the toddler for three hours another).

I’m pushing for balance by taking up running – I’ve been twice so far with a local group of mothers.

Yet I’m beginning to think that balance isn’t an achievable goal. Not for me, anyway. Not in any sense that’s total. There are days when the toddler doesn’t nap but clearly needs to nap. Days when I didn’t plan because…so many reasons…I just didn’t. Days when we don’t go out because I can’t face the effort of getting out and talking to other people. Sometimes that’s OK. Other times I end up wishing I had taken us all out.

Too many nights I lack the discipline to make myself go to bed when I should. Or I do but can’t shut my brain off. Sometimes I feel like falling apart just looking for that hole punch or that glue stick. I look around at all our stuff and want to throw it all away because I can’t find anything.

My children seem happy with their new childminder (a local friend from our church) but I worry every time I drop my nineteen-month-old off, just like I worried about her sister at that age. But I need the time and she’s so obviously happy there. So in a sense this gives my life some balance and in another it doesn’t.

It’s hard for me to tell whether balance skirts away because of something I’m neglecting to do or whether it’s, even at least partly, beyond my control. I find myself blaming myself for not feeling settled, for not always being happy, for not being all the things that it looks like good mothers, good people, are.

When I take it to God, I know that “balance” has become in my soul another word for “perfection”. And if I cling to it, I will end up beating myself with it. But that if I give it to Him, I can be free.