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For me, life is about balance. Just as in family systems therapy, I see life as a child’s mobile. Each piece is weighted strategically to create harmony as a hole. Were one piece to take on additional weight, or be robbed of its proper weight, the entire mobile would wobble and shake, attempting to find it’s proper balance and proportion. It could adjust, but it might look disfigured. To remedy it, other pieces could take on additional weight, say if the wounded string was cut. Or perhaps if the wounded string weight more than its fair share, the others would have to sacrifice. This is life to me. A series of checks and balances. This, for me, since I struggle with anxiety, is the way to survive.

What are the components?

–       The physical – which includes exercise, adequate sleep, good food and emotional wellness

–       The psychological – which includes a well-formed conscience and rational thinking

–       The social – familial, friendship, and communal ties here

–       Intellectual – learning, the acquisition of knowledge and practice of creativity

–       The environmental – clean surroundings that have some bit of silence

–       And the spiritual – communion with God, living in a state of grace, practicing devotions, living life with a sense of wonder and awe of the beauty of God’s creation, being in nature.

If we had that we’d have it all.

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I am the mother of five children: three born, two in heaven (see my blog “The Madness of Miscarriage”). My first daughter will be four years old in October, my son will be two in November, my youngest reached three months of age yesterday. “Wow, you really have your hands full” is the mantra I hear repeated to me at the grocery store. I don’t mind it or see it as a sign of an anti-life culture because it’s just…so…true.

After our first was born, the physical weight was wacked like it’d never been wacked before. You can imagine. The social weight, however, was miraculously expanded by our becoming parents and learning to live for another person. It took creativity (the intellectual weight)

I see the same occurred as I reflect on the birth of our son. The social weight expanded and the physical deteriorated following his birth.

And what took place between the births? A slow, uphill climb to rebuild the spiritual, which needed a new location on the mobile because the social expanded so much, depleting my alone time and rigorous schedule; the environmental, learning to be a wife and mother with babies that have their own “stuff” and grow to make their own messes; and in time the physical . The psychological weight, for me, could be maintained by finding creative ways to support the physical weight (ha! In more ways than one, I had some weight to lose postpartum) and develop a routine for our family.

“Routine is beauty,” said Mark Berchum as he trained a new batch of missionaries to serve with the National Evangelization Team in 2003. Routine (a predictable order of events, not a schedule) gave me a sense of peace, expanded the hours of the day and helped me feel a sense of accomplishment. I had one chore a day. As a morning person, after cleaning up from breakfast, I completed my chore. My children learned to expect I would not be available for play at this time and seemed happily occupied while I worked.

Our routine was as follows:

–       Wake up and dress

–       Breakfast

–       Clean up

–       Morning chore

–       Lunch prep

–       Nap time – a project or more chores or nap to be completed here

–       Snack

–       Play time/walk with stroller

–       Dinner prep

–       Bedtime

 

My most recent pregnancy was the most physically difficult. I lost of my proactive chore schedule and was too tired to walk on most days. We also moved to a new environment that lacked signs of nature, felt unsafe at times, and was very noisy compared to our home in the country. Walking was unpleasant and tiring.

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So now with three babes in tow, I’m still trying to learn. Instead of walking as my exercise I try to do some exercise routine first thing in the morning. I’m gradually coming back to doing chores and keeping the house clean (difficult though, because we moved and are still settling in). We have a beautiful, albeit small, yard and my parents’ house with their almond orchard is only two miles away (so we have some nature). Silence is the most difficult to come by these days, and probably the area that makes my husband and I suffer the most. I put a lot of my energy into making this house our own, making it beautiful by painting and decorating…for my sake and my family.

 

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So life is always a work in progress. I believe if we’re living right, our life will keep changing and we’ll have to keep balancing. With each step, I ask God for guidance and grace. We’re getting our flow again, though I wish I could help my husband more with cooking. We’ll get there. Salads help.

What do you do to maintain balance in your life?