Balance, by definition is, “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady” or can also be defined as “a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.”
Balancing life has been something I’ve always strived for, almost to a fault. It makes me feel “in control” when things in my life are balanced, evenly distributed, there is a place and time for everything and things are “in order.”
Balance BK (Before Kids)
Before kids, it was easier to find balance in my life, even though I still thought it was hard then (I had no idea how different things would be once I had kids – woo wee) – and balance to me meant having structure and a schedule and a place for everything. There was time for work, exercise, time with friends, volunteering, travel, etc. I was very structured and liked to feel in control of my schedule and what I was up to, which made me feel like there was balance, but I was always hard on myself if I fell off my schedule or if things didn’t go according to the plan on paper or in my calendar. If anything shifted, weighing more heavily in one area than another, I immediately felt like things were out of balance, and I was quick to make myself wrong for it and beat myself up.
Enter Baby #1
Enter my first baby. She came into my life as a magnificent surprise, and one that I honestly had been waiting for since I can remember. I always wanted to be a Mama. With her, I felt peaceful during my pregnancy, and I felt immensely humbled and grateful for the opportunity to be her Mama. After she was born, I definitely struggled with expectations around all the things there were to do and that weren’t getting done and how was I going to make it through a life without order and full of chaos with a messy kitchen, piles of laundry, work, wifely duties, and and and….
I had a lot of people say things like, “leave the house a mess, you’ll never get this time back,” which that just made me feel worse, honestly, because I wanted to be able to do it all. I wanted to be able to spend time with my baby, have a clean house that brought me peace of mind, still eat well, exercise, see friends and do all the things. And. I. Just. Couldn’t. There wasn’t enough time in the day, and I wasn’t good at asking for help. I heard myself say things like, how do other women do it?! Surely I’m not the only one who feels like I’m drowning. Am I the only one who wants to spend time with her baby AND have a clean house? Is this too much to ask? Why doesn’t this matter as much to my husband!?!?!
Enter Baby #2
Enter my second baby. Another surprise, and this time, honestly, a surprise that leveled me. We got pregnant when my daughter was barely 4 months old and we didn’t find out until she was around 7 months old, and I was well through my first trimester (I know – crazy). If I thought it was hard to do all the things there were to do and manage and find “balance” after my first baby, well let me tell you how many expectations and ideals were shattered at this point. I was terrified honestly. I had no idea what I was doing yet with my first baby and couldn’t feel any less prepared for a second. And I struggled my entire pregnancy with that guilt and fear.
When he was born, thankfully, we had family close that could help us with bedtime when my husband traveled, and other times we needed it, but the day to day still piled up and overwhelmed me. I think I just barely survived that first year. I was forced to let my expectations and ideals go. I was right smack dab in the middle of chaos, and I didn’t do it gracefully. I suffered over having to let things go – feeling defeated, buried, unworthy, incapable, and like an utter failure. Most days, it was brutal and overwhelmingly tiring. Don’t get me wrong, there were amazing moments, and things I’ll never forget, but honestly a lot of it is a blur. Talk about having to reconcile an expectation in my head about how it was supposed to go vs. how it did go. There was no balance. There wasn’t room for all of it because my expectations of how I was supposed to be doing it, how it was supposed to go, and how it all began were all in my way.
5 Years Later and I Wish….
I wish that I had given myself permission to be where I was with more grace and compassion instead of feeling like I’d lost a battle almost every day.
I wish that I would have asked for more help, hired a housekeeper or a postpartum doula or that I would have gone to more Moms groups and sat with other women who were in the trenches with me instead of feeling like I was the only one going through what I was going through.
I wish I’d made room for all of the things I was feeling and that were important to me instead of feeling immensely guilty all the time for doing, what I felt was, a second rate job at everything as a result of spreading myself too thin.
Balancing Life vs. Finding Balance
What I’ve come to realize is that “balance” has evolved into “finding my balance” amidst the busy-ness and chaos of life. Getting my feet underneath me and steadying myself vs. trying to make everything around me fit into a perfectly orchestrated “balanced life.” It’s making room for all of it – an understanding that nothing is going to be “perfect.” Some days will be better than others. And some days the house will be a mess! And some days it will be clean! And some days I’ll rock being a Mama, and other days, well I won’t–at least to my expectations of what “rocking it” looks like. It’s learning to trust that I’m doing my best and that at the end of the day, I’m still an amazing Mom, Wife, Human that is worthy of love and belonging!
So, I will leave you with these questions to ask yourself, when it comes to finding what balance looks like in your own life.
Can you make room for “all of it”–the good the bad and the ugly?
What expectations can you let go of?
What is truly important to you and your peace of mind?
Can you leave out perfection and have your best be enough?
Can you allow yourself to own your worthiness, no matter how the day goes?
Can you ask for help somewhere that you haven’t in order to help bring peace of mind?
Can you let something go that no longer serves or really matters anymore?
Can you listen to that quiet voice inside?
Can you give yourself permission for Grace, Love, and Compassion while you do your best to find your balance in this new life as a Mom?
Come join us at Breath of Life on May 21st for our next Normalizing the 4th Trimester Moms Group, to talk more about how expectations can take us out of the present moment and take away our peace of mind, and how to find YOUR balance in life. I look so forward to seeing you there.
Dawn Herring is a Childbirth Education Teacher, Birth and Postpartum Doula, recovering perfectionist and an Empowerer of Mamas. She teaches at Thank You Mama in St. Pete and also offers in-home private education classes as well. Follow her on FB at www.facebook.com/empoweredbirthsandbeginnings