A Story of Unbalance
This week, my daughter reminded me in her always unfiltered way that I wasn’t spending enough time with her. “Mommy, you are always working, and daddy takes me to the school bus everyday”, she said in her sweet little voice. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that her words cut me to my core. They cut me because she was right. The past few months, I have worked non-stop at my many ventures and while physically and mentally I have been feeling the effects, the impact of an overworked me is never more apparent than when I am reminded by those that love me most. In that moment, I wasn’t reminded that I had lost balance, I was reminded that I had lost perspective.
I make no excuses for a life lived at full speed and I have never been shy about my life unbalanced. I can stare myself in the mirror long enough to know that balance for me is a life jam packed with work, life, family and a never slowing mind full of dreams. I often scoff when people has me how I “do it all”. I have never claimed to do it all nor to I wish to try. What I do want is to do what I am doing with my whole self. That’s the perspective my child gave me this week. She wasn’t asking me to stop working, she wasn’t making a call on me as a mom. In fact, what she was asking me was simple, she wanted me to walk her to the bus. She just started middle school and it has been a big transition and she needed her mommy in the mornings. I am sure through her innocent eyes, the reason I don’t walk her to the bus stop is because I work all the time. She was telling me what she needed, and she was trying to identify the fix. I am committed to being there for my children, to be the mom that creates a safe place for them and my sweet girl was holding me accountable to that. She wasn’t asking me to find balance, she wasn’t asking me to work less or to be like the mom’s that show up for every school event; she was asking me to do what I have always promised, which was to help her in a big scary transition in her life.
Boiling down the moments when we feel like we have failed at balance will usually produces an answer like the one in my story. When we are feeling unbalanced, it is likely not the balance or lack of balance weighing us down, it’s that we believe we have disappointed someone. This is a beautiful revelation once you can pick yourself up off the guilt floor and decide to fix the thing that got you there. You see, if you can recognize that seeking balance is often drive by other people and what they might think, you can better prioritize the hours in your day to direct your energy towards those you don’t really want to disappoint. Rather than feel bad that we aren’t being like others, we should decide to only care if we aren’t being who we promised we would be to those who matter most. It’s beautifully freeing for me to not beat myself up thinking that the PTA moms will think I am a bad mom. I never promised them I would be anything and my children don’t need me to be a PTA mom to be the mom I have committed to being for them.
That’s the truth of balance. It’s different for everyone one of us. It doesn’t exist in the form of doing it all. It exists only in our ability to understand we can’t do it all, we never committed to doing it all and the only people who should get an opinion of what we are doing are those we owe our most committed selves to. I promise this philosophy will set you free from yourself. The people you owe your committed time to are the same people that will love you when you don’t get it right. I have been working too much and trust me, long before my daughter pointed it out, I was beating the hell out of myself for it. My sweet girl saved me from myself. I was running myself into the ground not just from long hours of working with a million balls in the air but from sleepless nights of feeling guilt over it. When I realized that one way to recommit to my girl was as simple as walking her to the boss stop, I reminded myself how unkind I had been to myself in the past few weeks.
I have walked my girl to the bus stop for the past few days when I didn’t have an early meeting and I did with a coffee in my hand and it has been wonderful. I’ll lose sight again, I’ll fall down the trap of mom guilt, boss guilt, wife guilt and personal accomplishment guilt again. What an eleven-year-old taught me this week is that when I fall, I’ll remind myself to be kind to me and I’ll remind myself of what really matters and whose opinions really matter. Imagine a world where you realize a small change can move mountains for the people that matter most and a world where you are as kind to yourself as you are to the people you love. Go find that life unbalanced.