Dearest mama, sitting there on the kitchen floor wondering why you can’t seem to do everything, be everything… why you can’t seem to balance all that you have on your plate—I see you. Often, I amyou. You are very much not alone. At times, it may feel like you’re the only one who can’t seem to have it all together. You wonder what’s wrong with you. The answer is absolutely nothing. I’m writing to tell you that I understand, and you are amazing—you are enough—exactly as you are at this very moment.
Throughout most of my adult life, the ever-elusive concept of balance has been the source of many journal entries, countless conversations, and quite a bit of frustration. It's something I've never felt good at—balancing work and marriage, self-care and motherhood, the keeping of a home and the necessity of time alone. I am interested in so many things, and I frequently lament the limits of time that prevent me from reading every book, experimenting with every art form. There are days when the work of running a business takes over my life. My house feels like a disaster and my children don't get the best of my attention. Other days, I'm an attentive and hands-on mother, perhaps even with meals planned and a clean floor, but I'm sorely behind on work tasks. (And sometimes, for the sake of true transparency, I can’t seem to do even one single thing right, in any area of my life.) For some reason, somewhere along the way I set the expectation for myself that I should be able to do everything, and do it well, all the time. I have a feeling you can relate.
The more experience I gain in this dance of life, the more I learn that "balance" the way I once idealized it is completely unattainable. But it isn't the goal. We all have many things vying for our attention, and only so much of ourselves to give. Managing all of this is really more akin to juggling than balancing. Life is perpetually in motion. Only one thing can be on top at any given time, but it's constantly rotating and as long as there aren't too many things involved at once (meaning, as long as we prioritize wisely), everything gets enough of us in the big picture…in theory.
Balance doesn't require us to give one-hundred percent and attain perfection in everything we do; it's more about knowing how much we can handle and aligning each part of our lives with our deeper priorities. Whenever I feel chaos and overwhelm—or when, for the sake of the juggling analogy, I've lost my grip and allowed it all to crash to the floor—I try to evaluate each thing I'm attempting to handle at the moment. Are these things in line with my values and vision for myself and my family? Is there anything that needs to take back seat or be removed entirely?
For me, this vision includes a sense of peace and joy in my home, and a life that is simple, uncluttered and unhurried, creative and close to nature. It includes physical health, nourishing food, great books, and ample time together as a family. My husband and I have seen clearly the need for time as a couple to invest in our marriage and keep it strong. I have learned that my personality type requires a certain amount of time alone to recharge so I'm capable of pouring into everyone else. These are some of the things that guide me as I edit which things I choose to juggle and which to let go of. But above all of that is relationships. Am I making sure the people in my life feel loved?
For me, the principle is this: Identify that which is most important, use it as a measuring stick for what you allow into your world, and then aim to be as present as possible in whatever is in front of you in each moment, and just let go of everything else that calls your attention away from what's truly important to you. And when you strip this concept of prioritizing down to basics, I think letting go andbeing present is really the key. More than balance, or a great juggling act, or trying to control everything, it's learning to let go that brings the sense of peace we're really chasing when we talk about balance. Letting go of the need for perfection and order, letting go of the idea that any one of us can do it all. When we not only accept, but fully embrace the fact that life is messy and often chaotic and that we are each only human, we are closer then to that sense of peace.
So now, when I find myself sitting on that kitchen floor—exasperated, overwhelmed, exhausted, defeated, feeling once again like I’m failing at this balance thing—I shift my focus away from balance entirely, away from striving and away from anything that even involves me. Instead I cultivate peace by centering myself in the present moment. I bring my attention to my senses, take deeper breaths, let all thought go and only take in what is happening around me right now—letting peace flow through my body and mind. Then, I remind myself of what is most important, which happens to be the one thing that comes most effortlessly to me (and to you too, mama)—my family is loved, fiercely and completely. We are wired to be the very best at loving them; it is innate to us, ingrained into the cells of our beings. That love is always enough. Everything else is excess. Let that bring you peace, and let that peace infuse and inform every other aspect of your life
Journalist: Hannah Mayo