Tuesday, October 16, 2012

In Which I Walk the Tight Rope (Or: Struggling to Find Balance)

I don't like being a working mom, blah blah blah. I’ve said it (a million times), you’ve heard me; Let's move on.

You know what's hard to believe? My tiny baby is almost 10 months old. TEN.MONTHS. Just like everyone says, the time goes by in a blink. And yet the day she was born feels like a loooooooooooong time ago. Most moms struggle with finding balance, as new moms, as moms with more than one kiddo, okay okay, as moms period. (can I just pause here and say that single parents should probably get a standing ovation wherever they go. And a medal. And lots of chocolate!) Where is the time in the day to devote 100% of yourself to your child, your spouse, your home, your friends, your job and yes, yourself? No, really. I’m asking. What? Oh, you thought I was going to give you the answer? Nope. Just like my struggle with yearning to stay at home was so strong, I feel like my struggle with balance is more intense than some gals. I don’t even want to compare my mothering to other women; some who were out on the town two weeks after delivery, some who find they need more balance in an opposite direction because they are home with their littles more often, some who hermit themselves in the house until their kiddos are in pre-school. Each mama has her own story, and this one is mine.

After 10 months, I’m able to not only SEE how unbalanced my life has been I am also finally ready to DO something about it. Or at least try. I’d say for the past couple of months I’ve realized how wobbly my tight rope walk has been, but I was okay with it. I’m still pretty okay with things, yet I’m ready to work on all the pieces of my life that I’ve dropped while hanging on so furiously to my baby. I’m not saying that I think I’ve done a good or bad job. I’ve done my best. I’ve clung to Olivia as if her breaths were my own. I’ve hovered too closely. I’ve worried too often. Hell, I was in the hospital with a migraine and rather than get the meds they suggested, which would have taken another 30 minutes, I told them I’d rather just leave so I could get home to my baby and husband. I cut my finger to the bone and we left Olivia with our neighbors. Sure, I cried about the pain and fear about my finger, but I was almost in a panic over not being with the baby and then about how I would feed her and dress her with this freakin’ cast-like splint thing on. These are a few of the bigger examples.

When I had to go back to work I became a total B word. Well, I may not have been rude to anyone’s face, but I confess I was not the sweet, caring employee I was pre-baby. I didn’t want to work and that attitude spilled out of my pores. I’m positive my colleagues noticed, and for that I am ashamed and sorry. I probably hovered over Jeff so much during the summer when he cared for Olivia that he may have wanted to scream, yet as always, he was the steady, reassuring husband I love, never mentioning the nagging I was most likely doing. Anywhere I went, I wanted Olivia to go, too. The grocery store. Denver to see friends. The mall. I dropped out of book club (let’s face it, there is not time to read when you have a baby, but more to the point, I didn’t want to leave her 1 night a month. One. Night.) I dropped the gym. Yes, for financial reasons, true, but also because there was no way I was going to take even more time in the day away from my baby when I was already gone for 9 hours!

Look, I’m not sitting here saying that these things are bad. If you become a hermit when you have a baby because that’s what it takes for you to be your best mama, then more power to you. If your baby becomes a social butterfly because you refuse to change your schedule with a newborn, more power to you. However long it takes each mama to figure out her groove, more power to her. I’m finally figuring out my groove, or lack thereof! I’m not ready to go back to the gym. I don’t even think I’m ready to join book club again (although I am ready to start reading some good novels!) BUT, I’m ready to LET GO, at least a little. Not fully. I’ll still have a hold of her hand and certainly her heart. And don’t get me wrong-I’m not going to suddenly be out and about every night, sans Olivia. This change will take part in huge part in my mind and emotions. However, I’m ready to take a deep breath so I can focus on my poor, darling husband. So I can become better at prioritizing things. So that I can learn to trust others with my precious cargo. So that I can take care of myself (I bought new sweaters! I straightened my hair!) So that I can take care of my sweet, loving Baby Daddy and our marriage. So that others can relish in the most amazing gift that is our daughter, and love her deeply. So that this very baby of mine, that has completely swallowed my heart, can see what a strong, confident, together (mmm, sometimes, partly together!) woman, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, looks like.

I will still relish and guard my time with my daughter. I will crave it. I will hate the fact that I’m not with her more. I will hover and worry. But hopefully that will all be in my right hand so that my left hand can carry the rest of my life while I shakily walk along the tight rope. It helps that I have so many people holding my hands along the way, and catching the things I drop, too :) I’ve heard the rope doesn’t widen out much, even when they are long out of the house. Parenthood! Who knew?!


Ashley said...

thanks for sharing ter!

Ashley said...

thanks for sharing ter

Sarah said...

always love reading your thoughts! you are such a great mama, and always inspiring to me. I love seeing you enter this new stage. I still remember so clearly something our family doctor said to me... the twins were a few months old (I don't remember exactly how old)... and I came to an appt FINALLY with a clean shirt and a haircut... and he said that he loved seeing moms turn that corner and start to take care of themselves again! I'm glad to see you taking care of you (and Jeff!) again... not that you weren't before... but Olivia (rightly) took up the vast majority of your time and energy. Just remember that she deserves a healthy (in all ways), well-rested mama!! Love you Ter!

Cheryl said...

You are NOT alone! I've tried to find my balance for 7 years and am still re-defining it with regularity. My balance includes catching up with friends on my drive home from work, knowing it's okay to have a messy home if it means spending more time with the people I choose to spend time with (friends and family), having the strength to say "no" to some social gatherings when I'm not up to it and saying "yes" to the ones that seem to fit into my stress/emotions of the day; and in taking long bubble baths with the bathroom door locked so I can be alone.

You WILL find your balance, but it will take time and most likely will change over time. In the meantime you are doing just right by Olivia!