'Balance Is for the Birds' When You're a Parent, and That's OK


Last night, I caught up on the laundry. The overflowing baskets had been in my family room, staring at me, for several days.

All seven of them.

While I sorted and folded, I started thinking about that elusive thing we call “balance.”

Motherhood requires an incredible amount of juggling. Whether you are working outside the home, staying at home, homeschooling, whatever… we all have multiple balls in the air.

No one is immune to feeling off-kilter.

Last night, as I tackled the laundry, I wondered whether “balance” is even possible.

This week? This week I was terrible at laundry. There are times when I’m a laundry rock star. Other times, I’m better at meal planning. And then there are the times when it feels like I’m failing across the board. I never feel like I’m rocking all the things at the same time.

Do you know what I think? I think balance is for the birds.

I think this concept of balance is a nice idea. It’s wonderful to think about, but it is an impossibility. You can try to balance all the things, but it is inevitable that you end up listing to one side, off-kilter.

This week I failed laundry. Meals weren’t all that impressive either. My house is messy.

But I was really good at focusing on my family. And that is always my first priority as a wife and mom: to love on and take care of my family. Some weeks, for whatever reason, this takes more time and energy and heart and love. Because there are times when life feels harder. Sometimes, the news is scary. Sometimes, bad things happen to good people. Sometimes, friends get sick, or their children get sick, or their loved ones get sick. And sometimes, families experience incredibly heartbreaking losses. When everything feels harder, all you want to do is to love your family and be grateful for this moment, right now, because you know it could change in a blink. These moments are wake-up calls; they force us to focus on what is important while the laundry mounts.

So, no I don’t think there’s such a thing as balance. You can try to get close, but you’ll never fully achieve it.

And to be honest, I believe there are times when it might even be healthy to let yourself dip to one side and feel wildly off-kilter, especially when it allows you to be more present as a parent.

The truth is, years from now, no one is going to remember that week of fantastically planned dinners, sparkling clean bathrooms, or perfectly folded laundry. Instead, they are going to remember the beautiful moments in between all of those things… even if those moments were spent in a messy house, in jammies, with laundry baskets staring at you.

Image via Thinkstock.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Other

Frustrated woman.

When I Want to Answer 'How Are You?' Honestly as a Special Needs Mom

“How are you doing today?” is a common greeting. Most of the time we say “fine” and move on.  It doesn’t seem that anyone is really interested in finding out how we feel anymore anyway. I used to be like that too.  As a former teacher I would ask parents that question, feign interest, and [...]
mom and son smiling

The Answer to 'How Are You?' Is Complex When Your Child Has Health Challenges

While I’m sure this probably isn’t just a southern thing, my whole life I’ve followed, my greeting of choice (“Hey”) with, “How are you?” It just sort of runs together, and people usually answer with the obligatory, “Fine, thanks,” or “I’m good. How are you?” We all say it because let’s face it – do people really want to know how [...]
A mother and daughter watching a boat

When You Start to Doubt Yourself as a Special Needs Parent

If I had been granted the power of seeing the future 20 years ago, I’m not sure I would have believed the life I have today was actually my own. I wouldn’t have believed it was me standing by the hospital bed of a critically ill child. I wouldn’t have believed it was me substituting [...]
The author holding her baby with her husband standing next to them

6 Things to Know When We Tell You Our Baby Will Have Special Needs

Our second pregnancy was not met with smiles and congratulations, though we had the same hopes as any expecting couple. Our baby, a giggling little girl, is amazing, but some people had no idea how to respond to the news that we were going to be a special needs family. This is what they needed to know. [...]