Over thirty years in public education as a teacher and administrator, a high school football/baseball coach’s wife, and mother to two strong-willed children, I have developed a disdain for the word “balance.”
Largely, this disdain grows out of a sense of failure, a daily inability to reach an equilibrium between my passion for serving my school kids and my overwhelming love for my man and the two kids we brought into this world.
Not to mention all the details -like which socks to wear with ankle boots versus tall boots:
We can’t wear skinny jeans anymore; we have to wear the high-waisted-expose-my-entire-menopause-shelf-mom-jeans and follow the mascara tips for women no longer younger than 49 when really we are just praying our eyelashes don’t fall out like our hair does!
Oh, and what the heck is wrong with my side part?!
I admire those of you who chase balance - who have healthy boundaries. I am quite positive my “need to please” and my enneagram-two-with-a-one-wing-self could find a pathway to balance.
I must say that for those who expect me to have a growth mindset, I couldn’t stand to disappoint you. Yes - that’s sarcasm, but only the tiniest bit, as I want to make you laugh. But seriously, I want your approval.
Are you watching me mentally run from one end of the teeter-totter to the other? It is a skill I have perfected.
Sometimes serving and hustling and remembering that I don’t have any lips if I don’t put on lip gloss depletes me. When my babies were younger, chasing dance, cheer, golf, baseball, basketball, football, church youth group, and healthy social lives, and my coach and I were ambitious professionally, I remember waking up one Saturday completely D.O.N.E.
Bloblike - much like Clair Huckstable when she curled up in the fetal position and said, “I have nothing more to give.” If you don’t know her, you need to meet her. The woman could raise an eyebrow and level a room.
I had shopping to do, a baby shower to attend, and Saturday morning chores. I was so spent.
I looked at my favorite-over-grown-eighth-grader and said, “You have to take me today. Drive me around. Tell the kids to do their chores and fend for themselves - to approach me only if they are vomiting profusely, bleeding, or on fire. I am seriously done.”
He looked at his usually very independent, don’t-even-try-to-control-me wife, saw the emptiness in my eyes, and offered, “Okay.” Almost like he was the one waving the white flag.
I truly believed God saved him that day; I mean- us. God saved us that day.
How did I get to ‘empty’?
Is it as simple as a false sense of pride?
“Nobody can do (fill in the blank) like I can.”
Is it an inability to say “no”? (My kids would assure you that I don’t have this affliction.)
Is it a need- to be needed?
I think those of us who give it all away only to find ourselves in the fetal position on Saturday morning have to explore these questions because (for me anyway) there isn’t a list of “steps” that will assist me in finding balance.
The people who I perceive to need me always outweigh the logic those lists hold. ALWAYS.
And because I can be ridiculously hard on myself, if I try one of these lists and fail, I have just added to my load, to my failure.
*sigh* BIG * sigh *
What can I do?
I have learned that self-reflection clears my slate and enables me to look at the situation more clearly, take responsibility, and make a mental note for the future. Self-reflection allows me to value characteristics about myself and identify characteristics that need maturing or growth. It also lets me mentally give permission to others - who may not be pleased with me - to be displeased with me.
Or, as my mama says, “They’re just gonna have to get happy in the same pants they got mad in.” (She often told me to go quietly, too - but that one didn’t stick as well.)
I mentally weigh the importance of being kind, a servant-leader, and an encourager - because these actions fuel me; practicing these acts gives me energy and fires me up.
So, I weigh those actions or characteristics against having:
time for myself
- a perfectly organized, decorated, and perpetually clean house
- answering all my emails the same day they arrived
- knowing what the newest fashion fad is or
- how to stencil in my eyebrows.
Y’all - can I confess that I just don’t even have the beginning of an understanding for all this attention to our eyebrows? Will someone give me permission to skip this - because like the return of high-waisted mom jeans, it just isn’t going to happen. I still don’t understand what happened to good ole 501’s.
Seriously, I can still look up at the end of my day and have more on my “to-do” list than I have “today” left to accomplish.
However, the act of honoring
- what I value
- who I feel like God has asked me to be
- and what gifts he has given for me to share
protects me from sitting in a dark closet underneath all the coats, hiding from the souls that love me.
Last idea: don’t make yourself feel bad if self-reflection doesn’t work for you. We are not the same; we were not created to be the same.
You are probably completely competent at stenciling in your eyebrows and wearing the right jeans, and I not-so-secretly (now) want to be like you.