I'm sure so many of you can relate to the title of this post.
With so much going on in all of our lives, it's a wonder we parents balance it all. After being a mom for just 4 months, I have so much respect and appreciation for the balance that all of you (including myself now, finally) must constantly strive to maintain. It's such a fine line between keeping all the plates spinning and happy--and succumbing to the chaos, allowing the plates to crash to the floor.
So, how do we do it? How do we keep family life balanced with career, personal goals, etc.?
Well, you tell me. This is my first "interactive" post. I'm hoping that you all will respond via the "Post Comment" feature on this blogger.com site or, if you're my friend on Facebook, by posting a comment there.
WHAT WORKS FOR ME
The fact that Jeff and I truly share our parenting responsibilities pretty much down the middle. He's not the kind of dad who's never changed a diaper or who sits in front of the TV ignoring his kids. If anything, he's even more engaged with Matthew than I am. They have so much fun together! I think he has less fear about what is "right" and "wrong" about parenting. He just does it, opinions be damned. I tend to think I'm being judged more, so I'm more cautious. (I know, you would have thought the reverse would be true, if you know anything about Jeff and my personalities.)
The fact that we take Matthew everywhere we go, and even it's scary at first, we do it. Like the first time I took him to a restaurant...I was absolutely terrified that people would be giving me dirty looks if he cried...he did great, by the way. Sometimes I think we don't give our kids enough credit. He surprised me that day, for sure. And then I look at his personality and think, "But were you really surprised?" Now, he's used to being out and about, and thoroughly enjoys it. He just looks around and watches people. What comes to mind is that Saturday in early March when we had him at the car dealership for 6 long hours while we purchased our new Forester. Not one meltdown. I think I was more ready to melt down than he was!
I won't lie...the fact that he's a great sleeper and eater and napper? Yeah, that works for me. That really, really works for me. Those 2 hours in the evening are my most priceless hours of recuperation (frequently accompanied by mindless TV).
Getting him outside in the sunshine and fresh air. It benefits everyone involved...the dog, the kid, the mom, the dad.
Being a working mom (see discussion below).
Admitting that I need a break, and taking it (for example, going away on girls' weekends...I've already gone on one). And not feeling guilty doing it.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK FOR ME
Being a stay-at-home mom. God, I love him to the moon, but I was happy to go back to work. I found more balance in my life, and everything kind of clicked. I loved being at home with him, don't get me wrong: But it was far from easy (especially being 100% housebound due to several blizzards and 3-4 ft of snow) and sometimes very, very trying. I missed my job, and my friends at work, and my yoga teaching. I'm finally comfortable saying all of this with no guilt, with no fear that my friends who ARE stay-at-home moms will resent me or think ill of me. (I think the world of them for the ability to do what they do every single day. [insert deep bow here]). It's a personal choice, and I think I made the right one for myself and my family. As my friend Kellie told me (and it's stuck ever since), I'm a better mom to my kids when I'm working.
Overscheduling. My favorite moments are the times the four of us (dog included) are out on the deck, just playing with toys in the fresh air, watching as Matthew points up to birds flying around our treetops. I hope that as Matthew grows, I will remember to strike a balance: keeping him active in various things but not TOO active, to the point where there is no time for that gloriously fun free play.
SOME FUNNY THINGS THAT MATTHEW IS DOING
Now I'm going to shift gears a little and tell you some funny things that Matthew is doing lately.
--The other day, he starts crawling toward the dog's dish...while the dog is eating. I calmly tell him "no." He swivels around, pauses, stares me down, and promptly sticks out his tongue and gives me a giant, lingering raspberry. Ooooh, kid, you are tryin' my patience. It was all I could do to suppress my laughter!
--He has taken to feeding Cheerios to the dog, dropping them off the highchair tray one by one. Jupiter is definitely not complaining. Mom and Dad are working on addressing this, with little success.
--I finally taught him to sign "more" when he wants more food! The shrieking just had to stop. It wasn't that he was unhappy; it was just his way of asking for more food. I was told it would take just a few days and he'd get it. Well, it took us and Kim (his daycare provider) four long weeks of constantly signing "more" (while he was in mid-scream) before he finally got it. Now, instead of shrieking for more food, he bangs his hands together (it looks more like clapping than the true sign-language sign for "more" but hey, whatever works--I know he knows what it means).
--He pushes this light wicker chair all the way across the deck. Back and forth he goes. If he encounters the occasional bump, he just pushes it harder until the chair leg clears the bump. The actual walking toy is not something he's interested in...the household furniture is much more appealing. But hey, he's safely practicing his walking. I'm not complaining. One of these days, I know, he's going to start walking. Jeff and I are trying to be patient and not worried about this. He's only 13 months old...some kids don't walk till much later than that (or so I'm told).
Coining the phrase of my favorite t-shirt company, "life is good." Being a mom is fun, challenging, hilarious, busy, demanding, different from my old life, and sometimes makes me crazy. But I absolutely love it.
Have you seen that commercial for the new TV show, "Parenthood" (which I love, by the way)? They are interviewing random people on the street. A woman says "Parenthood is...the most fun I've ever had."
I can't think of a better way to describe it than that. So that's where I'll stop.