Guilt on top of stress just equals more stress. And guilt.
For some reason I continue to struggle with finding a balance with everything. There are good weeks and bad weeks, and it seems like just when I think I have everything balanced something unexpected sneaks up on me and throws me for a loop. For me, the week of Christmas was like a perfect storm for an unbalancing act, if you will. When all the holiday events were over and I finally achieved the cleanliness and organization I wanted needed in our place, I decided that what I really needed was to find a way to not only balance life, but keep it balanced.
Just one year ago I had balance in my life mastered to a T. I knew could get up as late as 6:43 a.m. and still fit in a shower and coordinate a cute outfit before heading out the door no later than 7:18 to easily get to the office a mere 3-miles away before 7:30. I knew if I got to the gym, located 1.5 miles from my office, by 4:13 p.m. that I could still beat the after-work rush and snag one of the good treadmills or hammer out what needed to be done on the most popular weight training machines. I would make sure I was home after the gym with enough time to walk the dog and prepare dinner—sometimes meals that took up to an hour to prepare—before Husby came home so food would be hot and ready minutes after he walked through the door. Most days I even had a beer open for him and a glass of wine poured for me (prior to becoming pregnant, of course).
Oh how times have changed. One year ago I felt like I could confidently look in the mirror and know why my husband was married to me. I was confident in my role as a wife and carrier of our unborn daughter. At that time I had an image of who I would be as a mom from the day I stepped foot out of the hospital. I would be up early every morning, without an alarm, preparing for each day, all dressed, hair done and cute shoes on before anyone else in the house awoke. I would have coffee made and softly sip it while I had my own quiet time. I would be the wife my husband dreamed of and the woman that my daughter needed, always singing through the house and using a gentle voice.
Dear Past Self,
That did not happen.
It’s not that I’ve failed at all these things, but I certainly have not succeeded at achieving this perfect image. Every time my tone is harsher than it should be toward my husband, even just due to my own exhaustion, I lose confidence in my role as a wife. Every time I feel so tired that I actually pray Adelyn isn’t quite awake yet, I lose confidence in my ability to be the mother she needs. And every time I go through a day that I didn’t completely put myself together, I lose confidence in my image as both the wife and mother I had hoped to become.
So for 2014 I am committed to resolving my resolutions. That is, I'm determined to define my purpose as a wife and mother so I can stop aiming to acheive such an unrealistic persona.
I’m an avid reader, so my first place to turn for the answers was to someone who wrote about these exact same experiences. You have no idea (or maybe you do) how frustrating it was when I couldn’t find even one book that encompassed the struggles of finding balance as both a wife and mom who works fulltime! Everything I found either focused on being a stellar a wife OR mom. But I need to learn how to excel at both; in unison. After almost an hour of searching I settled on three books to cover all the topics:
Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe
31 Days to a Happy Husband | What a Man Needs Most from His Wife
The Fruitful Wife
To some people this all probably sounds ridiculous. But I’m scared—so scared—to become a wife that no longer affirms her husband. Especially when my husband is a great as he is. Before having kids women tend to use their motherly instincts to nuture their husbands. What that entails may be different for all of us, but it's true in most circumstances. Then we have children and stop, redirecting our nurturing energy on our babe(s). I know I've caught myself thinking He doesn't need me. Adelyn needs me. But that's neither true, nor is it fair to assume. Just because he's a grown man and is capable of doing the things I used to do for him, it doesn't mean that he needs that nurturing any less. How is it fair for me to neglect him just because we now have a baby? It isn't. I just need to learn how to balance it all.
So far I'm three chapters into Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe and I feel so much more...zen. Sarah Mae is a Christian blogger who writes about her disparity as a mom, always falling just a little shy of the image she had for herself. It’s both encouraging and helpful to read about her experiences and what she did to overcome the difficult times as well as what she learned in hindsight. She wrote the book with her mentor, Sally Clarkson, and it’s made me understand why an older mentor can be so important.
Since I've vowed to read and learn from these people, I’ve reached out to an old mentor friend of mine, someone who I looked up to so much when I was 20. I look forward to hopefully meeting with her more regularly and learning how to become the God-serving wife and mom she has been. She gave me such beautiful marriage advice over dinner when she learned about my engagement that I just want to take all of her words and tattoo them onto my brain. Now that her youngest of two children is a senior in high school, I’m hoping to jump on the opportunity to snag a little of her time once a month and pray to become the godly wife and mother she has always been!
Who knows, maybe someday I’ll write a book that encompasses what I learn in all three of these books because oh my gosh, I still can’t believe I couldn’t find one. And I refuse to believe I’m the only person out there who feels like she’s failing at least a little in each area.
Do you have any advice on maintaining balance as a full time working mom and wife?