In my journey as a mom and as a woman, finding a balance is a constant juggle, struggle and shifting. Right when I find the fit of things, the meshing of a perfect day, the next day comes and the recipe doesn’t work anymore. Recently a friend wrote about her struggle in her relationship with the man in her life who is also the father of her child; they aren’t happy and she is having a hard time. She wrote about her need to focus on the baby and not making him happy. My first instinct was “Hell yes, she should focus on her pregnancy and her baby!” But, then, after a moment I realized that attitude is wrong, maybe, for me.
If you lose sight of yourself, it’s natural to feel a sense of caged restlessness. To feel like you’re pacing in your trapped location/relationship/life…. It’s a slow feeling of suffocation. I felt like I was disappearing into motherhood at first, squirreled away without friends, work, meetings, errands, and exercise. Carving out a space for me, just me, in my role of being a mom allowed me to unfurl my cramped wings. It started out slowly, an hour here and there, a walk around the block alone, a dinner out with friends.
Then it developed into a realization that I need to continue to fulfill me, my dreams and goals. But, as a mom with a small baby, it again started out small. When my son was four months old, I decided if I had to be away from my child, it would be for something I loved to do. After ten years of practicing yoga, it was time to become a yoga teacher. And after years of playing sports, coaching teams and working out, it was time to become a group fitness instructor. It was hard to be away, but by leaving my role as a mom to pursue these other parts of me, I became a better mom. Yoga taught me patience, how to breath through a difficult situation and the inner strength I didn’t know I had. Yoga reminded me flexibility will get you through and that you are perfect, as you are, right now, in this moment. Group Fitness let me exercise my demons and sweat out my stress.
If you lose sight of your relationship, you’re quitting on someone you love and something you love to have. Taking the relationship for granted is a slippery slope. I believe in unconditional love with a healthy dose of personal responsibility for constantly communicating and setting boundaries. If I fail to honor my husband, my partner, my spouse, my relationship with the father of my children, then I have broken my promise to make this journey together and to be there for him. My marriage takes constant effort to stay good, and in turn, my marriage helps make life good for my kids and to support me as a person.
If you lose sight of your kids, you’ll miss out on the precious days, hours, minutes, years of their childhood. I’ve been told, we only have this opportunity once to see our babies become toddlers, toddlers become children. These are the years of snuggles, kissing booboos, time outs, tantrums. I’ve learned that by advocating time away as my own person and by including time for my marriage relationship, then I’m more capable of being completely present for my children.
This is clearly the long way of me saying that I don’t think it’s the right answer to pick one priority. I can’t be all mom, all wife or all individual person. I must be all three, in varying order, in varying degrees, on varying days. Some days need more of one. Some days, I just can’t give anymore. But it’s about shifting the priorities around, finding the balance, that I’ve started to feel like I have the beginnings of my center point. And here’s a quote that I have loved since the moment I read it:
“It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.” ~Joyce Maynard