Balancing on the edge of a curb is not an easy thing when you are carrying groceries and following the lead of your child back to the car in the parking lot during a spontaneous game of, "stay out of the alligator pond!" It can be scary even; stumbling for a split second, feeling your heart thump like it’s outside of your chest, the sensation that your face is about to kiss the pavement…suddenly, by instinct, you grab something sturdy nearby and you're upright again.
Finding balance with children is a constant battle; with them, and with ourselves. From making sure they don't watch too much television, to getting healthy food in their bellies, providing access to creative materials, spending enough time outside, using positive discipline without yelling, and finding time for ourselves (or with our spouses). More of this, less of that, and please, dear God, let me get a shower today!
Even though I've studied and worked in the early childhood field, even though I know what is "best practice," even though I know what's "developmentally appropriate," I don't always practice what I preach. Some days I don't even recognize myself, because I'm still in my pajamas, and I haven't taken the aforementioned shower yet – when my husband pulls into the driveway at 5pm after a full day at the office.
For example, yesterday, I spent most of my day catching up on laundry and keeping a cranky baby happy, while feeling bad that I didn't play with my four year old. He played on his own, with the same toy all day long, while following me around the house, and he didn't complain. I've had days completely opposite from this, and I wish I had more of them, but I know it's okay to miss the mark occasionally. My friends won't shun me...I think, because my house is a mess and I suffer from CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome). My kids aren't going to "fall behind" because I didn't offer engaging activities that supported their letter and number knowledge, and play outside everyday with them. I know it’s ok, but I still beat myself up over it.
I'm trying to find my balance. Between those absolutely awesome days filled with little moments that put a smile on my face, and make my heart feel good. To those days where I can't find the right words to redirect my son, or get out of the house on time, or eat something better for me, or send that cute homemade gift in the mail, or take the boys to the pond to explore the muddy waters edge, or just be in the moment with them.
Being in the moment…something I find I cannot slip into as easily as I once did like children do. Yet that is the key to finding and maintaining balance. It allows me to drop the trappings and expectations that I place on myself and focus instead on what is really important – my two wonderful children. Not every day will go the way I think it should, but if I am in the moment I will enjoy them all. Being in the moment, my something sturdy to hold on to.