It all starts at 5:00am, Central Standard Time to be exact.
Read the Bible and another book, make the coffee, pour and consume said coffee to the tune of 3 cups a day (60% decaf, but still). Crank out an hour of work before the kids wake up – the list never ends, which is totally fine because I love what I do…but the list never ends.
The first one is up and asking for food. I make pancakes plus food for lunch that day. Second one is up and asking for food too. This one wants toast and a very specific cup for his beverage. Vitamins, probiotics and elderberry syrup down the hatch. Crap! We have to leave for school in 10 minutes and NO ONE IS DRESSED. Why isn’t anyone dressed?!
We leave for school and I am continually thankful that it’s not a long commute. We pray and recite affirmations every day, and by the time that’s done we’re there. It doesn’t take us long, but all of the other parents have their own agenda. That lady cut in the drop-off line again. I get annoyed…although that was totally me yesterday. I push my feelings of hypocrisy to the side, give a huge hug and kiss to my boy, and wave as I pull away. Say a prayer for him today because there’s nothing that hurts like leaving your babies in someone else’s care. I remind myself, with tears in my eyes, that I know it’s the right thing for him at this stage. I miss him terribly already.
Back home and time to get my younger one ready for his school! Clothes, cups with his name on them, extra clothes, all the papers filled out, don’t forget the backpack. I also run through the house to get my workout clothes, my laptop case, stuff to change into after the workout. Oh, and food – I forgot food! Thankful for leftovers most days because that ends up being breakfast on the go.
Take my other son to school, cry about leaving him too, then hustle over to a trail somewhere to get in a run. Every day looks different, but today it’s a running day and I’m going to do it regardless of the fact that it’s hotter than the surface of the sun outside. I do the run and listen to podcasts, then hustle back over to the car. I look both ways then change before the next pedestrian strolls by (hopefully). Time to put in some more work!
Run to Starbucks and order an iced tea. Crank out another 90 minutes of work, adding to the to-do list as I go. I think some day I may throw the to-do list out, but it just feels so good to cross those things off…so maybe not. We’ll see. I do a coaching call with a team member, then hit the road to pick my little guy up from his half day. We eat lunch together, get him down for a nap, and then I have about 90 minutes to shower, finish up work for the day, do the dishes and laundry, and maybe lay down for 10 minutes. It’s rushed, but I look forward to that lunch with him every day!
After nap it’s time to pick up brother and then move on to our afternoon. As the weather cools down we’ll spend many of those afternoons outside, but today? Today it’s insanely hot and we have an appointment to make it to. I decided to get them cookies from Starbucks earlier and am currently praying that it wasn’t a terrible idea. Thankfully they’re fine and the sugar fix is just enough to get us through the afternoon. We get through the appointment with minimal fits, then it’s time to head home and start dinner.
We get home and I let them zone out on devices for 30 minutes. PRAISE THE LORD FOR THE PBS GAMES APP! I get food on the table for the boys and continue to talk to them about their days while I pick up a bit. I hate that I could even seem distracted to them, but I also know that it’s good for them to see what it takes to keep up a house. I hate that constant pull – being present, being “on” all the time, and also doing the things that are required in life (like cleaning a house). I’m cooking dinner for Nate and myself now (yes, I make two meals a day for dinner…don’t get me started) and the grill breaks. Like, the bottom literally falls out. I freak for a moment, then realize the burners still work so YAY ME at least the burger patties can still cook. I try to make breadcrumbs in the blender because my food processor is broken, and it works fine but now the blender is dirty. Oh well, just add it to the list!
I realize that I still haven’t changed out of my street clothes, which isn’t a huge deal except that they give me anxiety. Actually, all clothes do – which ones are fitting me this week? I don’t remember…plus they’re all in the laundry. I pull on a pair and a white T-shirt, then run out into the kitchen because the boys are screaming at one another because someone drew the wrong roller coaster on his paper. It’s an emergency, obviously. And then, immediately after I settle that down and get them started on homework Nate calls and the dog barfs…at the same time. I can do two things at once…but really want to pull a Big Daddy and just throw newspaper on top. It’s fine…I’m fine.
We settle down and I give the boys another 10 minutes to play games on my phone because mama just needs to sit down. The timer goes off – time for bed! According to my children their lives have imploded because mom won’t let them play games anymore. I knew there was a reason I made that “no devices before bed” rule…
We get them upstairs, wiped off, teeth brushed, clothes changed, book read, songs sung. The little one decides now is a great time to poop, so we do that too and then back to bed. A few more trips up the stairs for mom while dad starts the laundry (again…OMG it never ends). Once everyone is F I N A L L Y settled down I jump online to answer emails, crank out blog posts, and then realize all the things I didn’t actually get done today.
Here’s the deal y’all: I don’t say all of that to make my life sound hard. Sometimes it is, sometimes it’s easy and sweet as pie, and oftentimes it’s all the in between. What I do want you to notice, though, is that there’s absolutely no perfect balance. And the reason? The reason is that perfect balance doesn’t exist and is a false reality that so many are striving needlessly for. Balance is elusive and fickle, and every time you think you’ve found it then a variable in your life will change and you’ll have to “find” it all over again.
But what if you could change one thing about your mindset and create a more joy-filled life instead of one constantly striving for balance? What if you could switch gears and focus not on balance, but on joy? How would your life change if you did that?
I don’t have a yoga practice, I don’t journal, and I don’t meditate or make French-press coffee every morning from freshly ground Jamaican Blue Mountain beans I roasted myself. I don’t create picture-perfect meals that we all eat happily together for every meal from stonewear and perfectly weathered bronze utensils. Our schedule is insane 90% of the time as I tuck my work into the nooks and crannies of our days. I try to figure out a good mix of devices and creative play, but I always second guess myself on what that mix looks like. My life right now a pants-on-fire mad dash until bedtime every night, at which point it slows down to a brisk walk as I prepare for another pair of flaming pants the next day.
It’s not even remotely balanced. But gosh darn, it’s so packed with joy. Joy at the moment I get to hug my boys good morning. At the look on their faces when I make their favorite pancakes, or let them pick out their own clothes. Joy and thanks for good schools that they love, for friends and teachers who lift them up. Joy at the moments of time I get to have to myself to learn and do meaningful work. Joy from time with friends, both near and far. Joy when I get to see my kids after school, joy because I get to be a haven for them. Joy because they’re mine, even with the hard times mixed in there. Joy at seeing my husband when he gets home from work, and joy when we get to eat good food together. It’s hard, it’s not balanced, it’s not picture perfect, and it is totally nuts…but I’d choose the joy over balance any day of the week.
I’m wrapping this up so that I can go climb into my pair of flaming pants for the day, but I want to challenge you to seek joy and not balance. Kick that lie of balance to the curb – and then take inventory of the little joys you get to have in the every day instead. Soak them up, meditate on them, smile. And let’s make joy the goal – the legacy – of our lives!