It’s maybe the most elusive thing out there. We’re all looking for it, but no one seems to have captured it. The quest for balance sounds like a George Costanza monologue from Seinfeld.
Do you have balance? I can’t find balance. I couldn’t find balance if it kicked me in the pants. Larry Tomaselli went looking for balance and was never seen or heard from again. I’m gonna tell ya, I don’t think balance even exists.
If balance isn’t something we can find, we think we can make it happen, just like it says in the title song from the movie Flashdance. We write down lists, and plan our time more carefully than the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company. We strive to get everything done, just like Boss Calendar says.
But then the baby has a poop-to-the-neck blowout just as we’re about to leave the house, the dishwasher floods, or somehow we forgot the one ingredient we need for that new dinner recipe, and it’s all shot to hell. Our elaborate plans to get everything done, to feel whole and sane and capable have been thwarted. Losing our grip on reality, we’re certain the universe has made express plans to crap on our cracker.
And this thwarted feeling is anything but balanced.
A mom friend and I were talking about always feeling a day late and a dollar short. Our busy lives make getting it all done impossible. If we find ourselves with an empty slot of time, it’s spoken for almost immediately. If we take care of one thing, something else goes undone. We take the time to get a mani/pedi and only to realize we’ve totally spaced on a meeting. And it’s impossible to feel relaxed when you’re convinced you’re a disorganized asshole.
We're trying to find balance, and it’s not working. We’ve got it all wrong.
Because balance is not getting it all done, and propping your feet up like the lady in the commercial with the clean house and stocked refrigerator. It’s not a checked off to-do list, or letting it all just roll off your back.
Balance is prioritizing because no, you can’t get it all done, not just not perfectly, but not at all. We need to stop telling ourselves that vicious lie that we can work and parent and exercise and cook and shop and have hobbies and look great and see our friends and stay up-to-date on at least four social media outlets and find a sense of peace.
Even the most well trained seal can’t hold hundreds of balls while balancing on the point of a pyramid.
Balance is understanding that when bad things happen it is normal to feel and to react.
Balance is looking around at the things you swore you’d never have or do – a messy house, kids who ate a processed or (gasp!) fast-food dinner, wear nothing but yoga pants for a week and saying this is the best I can do.
Balance is asking for help. It is getting better at saying, quite simply, “No.” It is realizing that sometimes putting yourself first means doing nothing.
It is believing, not fatalistically, but realistically, that stuff happens.
Balance is being present.
And it is forgiving yourself for being unable to be present, or say no, or to put yourself first.
Because maybe, just maybe, balance is one of those things that finds you when you stop desperately searching for it. It gently settles upon you when you remember to breathe.