I have long struggled to find balance in my life and the struggle is real, folks! According to my calculations, I need a minimum of thirty-six hours a day and approximately nine point seven days in a week to accomplish everything necessary for optimal equilibrium. In order to be the mom, wife, daughter, writer and friend I aspire to be, I require two clones, a cleaning lady and a cook. In short, I’m screwed.
I have friends who assure me that taking care of myself first is the key to successful balance. “If you do too much for others and don’t do for yourself, you’ll wither on the vine!” (or some equally inane nonsense.) I’m torn between wanting to hug them for their astonishing naiveté and smacking them senseless for wasting even a second of my life with such stupid drivel. “Me” time is something that was snatched from my grasp by wide-awake infants in the middle of the night, by Norovirus spewed on freshly painted walls and by constant butt wipings during the potty training years. I’m pretty sure “me” time is a mythical entity right up there with unicorns and fairies.
I was so sure that when both of my girls hit full-day school, I would have my life back; I would have the illusive “me” time, we wax on about. My house would always be clean, I would write three times as many books and everyone in my sphere would feel the full force of my presence. What a load of horse hooey!
Both girls have been in full-day school since September and I am no more productive for it. Well, that’s not entirely true. I actually go to the gym three mornings a week now and feel marginally healthier/ less snatchy, so that’s a good thing. The house is cleaner but only because the mess makers aren’t in constant whirl and I occasionally get to talk to an old friend on the phone. But sadly I’m still buried under the weight of my “to-do” list. How am I ever going to find the balance I crave?
One friend suggested hot yoga as the cure-all. She’s currently in traction, or would be if I had any telekinetic powers. I’m forty-eight. I’m as hot as I ever want to be again this side of a boiling pit of lava. Her suggestion is right up there with proposing the key to world peace is through regular mani-pedis or perhaps group hugs. Can you just see the start of every U.N. pow wow starting with downward dog in a ninety-eight degree room, followed by OPI’s “I’m Not Really a Waitress” painted on everyone’s toes? Ludicrous.
I just returned home from a very informative writer’s conference and couldn’t wait to get back and start implementing all these marvelous new techniques into my life. I learned that even if I have to force productivity, I have to be productive, that organization and involvement in social media can make or break me. I learned the faster I publish my books, the more momentum my career will have. Essentially, I learned that I will never be the huge success I dream of being if I don’t give my career two hundred percent. Every. Single. Day.
I dwell on that when I’m making my littles their breakfast and packing their lunches. I worry about it when I pick them up from school and take them to the bounce house instead of coming home so I can go back to work. And when we’re cuddled up in my bed at night watching the Next Food Network Star, I finally realize, who cares? My girls don’t care if I’m a household name or not. They don’t care if all the laundry is perfectly folded in their drawers. They don’t even care if my gray roots are dyed in a timely fashion. All they care about is that I’m present with them, actively participating in their lives.
In a ditch effort to save my sanity, I’ve decided to prioritize the various compartments of my life. My children come first. My husband is somewhere near the top of the list but I often say to him, “Remember those twenty years we had together before having kids? Cling to those memories.” I don’t even know what to say to my parents except, “Man, did I take you for granted!” And then comes work, laundry, vacuuming, shopping for groceries etc.
I’ve come to the conclusion that balance is probably not something I will ever attain in a single period in my life. The hope is that at the end of my journey, I’ll realize it was something that developed along the way. I envision sitting under a big oak tree with a good book, an afghan and a mocha, somewhere in the distant future, with a smile on my wrinkled face, reminiscing, “I’ve had a clean house, I’ve had wonderful times with friends and I’ve written a lot of good stories along the way. But more importantly, I raised two kind and compassionate children who helped make the world a better place. I’ve had a successful and loving marriage and I was a good daughter. As a whole, I balanced a lot and did a pretty darn good job of it.”
For now though, I’m a hectic mess just taking it one day at a time.
Author Bio: Whitney Dineen is an Amazon bestselling and award-winning author of romantic comedies and middle reader fiction. Her first rom com, She Sins at Midnight, won a silver medal in the 2015 Reader’s Favorite Awards. Her second, The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan, won Honorable Mention at the London Book Festival, is a finalist in the 2016 RONE Awards (and the reason for her trip to Southern California) and won a silver medal in the 2016 Reader’s Favorite Awards. Whitney lives in rural Oregon with her family and chickens, who just happen to be named after Barbie Princesses.