I'm so tired of the lie that mothers find happiness when they strike a balance in their lives and work. That is not true!
I've been a mom for 15 years and I have a 9, 12 and 15-year-old. I can count on one hand the days that were balanced perfectly. No two days have been exactly the same in my life, ever. Imbalance is something that happens every day in motherhood.
Moms fight imbalance instead of embracing it. We never publicly admit the ongoing struggle with laundry, carpooling requirements, healthy/unhealthy dinner preparations and our need to get off the roller coaster. We wrestle with the imbalance of the division of labor with our partners while raising our children. In my family, no matter what is going on in my day, I can always expect that dinner, doctor visits and permission forms are my responsibility. The imbalance that happens as a result of having active children who are involved in extracurricular activities, play dates and friendships that result in me driving and carpooling throughout town . The imbalance that occurs to every woman who becomes so busy managing life that she forgets her own.
"Life is a dance between making it happen and letting it happen." -Arianna Huffington, Super Soul Sunday
I have stopped living the illusion in motherhood that said I needed balance to be happy. What I found I needed is:
• Be consistent and intentional about my own self-care. Yes, that means that I date myself 90 minutes a week and I teach others mothers to do the same in Time for Mom-Me groups. I have learned that self-care is the foundation for great parenting and my marriage.
• Set boundaries. I express what I can and cannot do. Period. I don't apologize for being honest.
• Verbalize my needs with people who are in a position to help me. Take off your superwoman cape because doing it all long-term isn't sustainable.
• Accept my limitations. Be transparent. My husband had kidney transplant surgery in March and I immediately reduced all my commitments and extra-curricular activities because I saw no value in modeling that for my children. Doing it all wasn't something that I needed to prove to anyone including myself.
• Supportive circle. I have no idea why mothers are uncomfortable when I verbalize that doing less is my secret sauce because it is. The only way I can stay present as a mom is to do less, well. I don't overschedule myself, family or children because it doesn't make me more productive or fulfilled; it make me busier.
We live with spoken and unspoken myths of motherhood that say:
1. If you take care of yourself then you are not taking care of your family. Not true. If you don't take care of yourself long-term you will resent your family. You will watch everyone around you pursue their dreams, plans and goals and eventually, you will wish you could identify one dream of your own.
2. If you aren't doing it all, then you are a slacker. Not true. Doing it all forever is exhausting. Motherhood can be a competitive sport and many moms keep score, but you don't have to.
3. Your best isn't enough. Your children deserve more. Not true. Your children deserve a mom who accepts her limitations and one who teaches her children how to communicate their own needs.
4. Hide your failures from your children. Children need their parents to be strong. Yes, your children will learn how to handle their own mistakes, failures and shortcomings by your example and lesson.
What I have learned and shared with many other moms is that being a great mom is congruent with being kind to yourself. When a mom grows her life, she can share more of her life with her children, spouse and friends. Taking and making time to refuel yourself allows you to give from your overflow and not from your reserves.