The balancing act we all face: juggling with kids

One of the hardest things I struggle with is finding balance.

Not so much between keeping work, motherhood and social life juggling at once. I’ve gotten better at that, interestingly, since I became a mother and realigned my perspective about what is important in life. (In my 20s I was a workaholic, in my 30s I was rediscovering the value of HAVING a social life, now in my 40s I am setting aside as much time as I can for family life.)

And not the yoga kind — I’m actually great at balancing there.

What I mean by finding balance is understanding when to persevere….and when to let go.

We hear how we have to “set our intentions” and “make a plan” to have a goal come true.

But especially as I get older, I recognize the value in letting some things happen naturally, and that it is folly to try to force square pegs into round holes. The trick is: how long does it take to recognize when something won’t work, no matter how hard you try, or how much you ask the universe? And: when do you have to fight off despair, hopelessness and frustration so you don’t give up too easily?

In the Thinking stage, we wonder if we can handle single motherhood, and if we should keep dating. In the Trying stage, we wonder if we will ever have the child we want so desperately, if we are too old to make it happen, if we will pass that home study even without perfection. As Moms, we wish we could see what we are doing with our children today that will have the most impact so we can focus on that: preparing a sane family meal after providing financially and getting them to extracurricular activities while making time for play and extended family and reading and cleanliness and homework and our own mental break is hard to do every day.

Most of us tend to have a lot of stamina, which is how we got to this point in our journey rather than giving up and settling for something less.

How much pushing is too much?
How much hope for a miracle is simply not realistic enough?
How much time can we spend waiting and wishing, before we sit down with ourselves and make a new plan?

No one has answers to these questions. Which is what makes it so hard. There is no formula to achieving what we want.

But I did hear yesterday some sage advice on the subject.

I heard a story from author Rachel Naomi Remen about the Concorde jet that first flew across the Atlanta. A reporter discovered that computers kept the plane on course, essentially feeding each other readings and making course corrections accordingly. The reporter asked how often the plane was off course. “About 99 percent of the time,” was the answer. Yet the plane was also expected to land in its destination within one minute of the scheduled time.

The lesson being that we might deviate greatly, daily — hourly even — as we move toward our goal. But as long as we remember where we want to be, it gives us the purpose we need. As Rachel put it: “Serving anything worthwhile is a commitment to a direction over time…It is less a work of the ego than a choice of the soul.”

With that in mind, as I hem and haw my way through another week of choices and second-guessing and errors, I can keep front of mind that ultimately I am trying to find balance as a single woman — juggling with kids, several jobs, an old house –and trying to improve a social life that needs work. There is no perfect course to that. I just need to be prepared to keep re-aligning myself whenever I get off direction.

What about you? What are you trying to stay on course to do?

— Mikki


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