I meant to click on the Safari browser but I clicked on the Freedom button instead. The box popped up on my screen. If I pressed “okay” I would get 60 minutes of freedom from the internet. I hesitated, even when I knew the errant click had been a generous gesture from the universe. I had opened my computer to write, and I needed Freedom to focus on it.
Isn’t it true that our favorite things can also be our worst enemies? Booze, sugar, caffeine, the internet. You know what I’m talking about. Even a beautiful romance can be ruined by codependency.
Life is a delicate balance. I’m guessing that most of us struggle with balance in one or more areas of our life. Learning balance, like most things, often involves failing. Falling and regrouping from the bathroom floor. At least that’s where I landed recently. I knew I needed to get up but it felt so good for the moment while it lasted. I belonged there. I had the stomach flu and the virus was taking my digestion system through the ringer.
The toughest balance for me these days is Mommy versus Self. I love my kids with every piece of me, it is easy to want to give them all of me, all of the time. Alas, this is not healthy. Every mom needs to be a person apart from her kids. Many moms, if they do not ask for and take their own time, don’t get it. For you maybe it’s balance between discipline and indulgence, work and family, work and play, friendship and partnership, adventure and rootedness.
It wasn’t just my stomach that made me lose my balance. It was my husband traveling, the sleepless nights on my own, the puddles of puke to clean up, the piles of laundry to sort and put away, the diarrhea in the bathtub, the unexpected temper tantrums, the absence of writing time, the shortage of alone time, the never ending to do list, the feeling that this cannot go on much longer–or can it?
But there’s a flip side to everything. Depending on when you ask, I am also thriving. I’ve started to find my groove at the gym. A literary magazine picked up a short story I wrote. Said literary magazine liked this story so much they asked me to be the featured fiction author for the issue and write yet another piece for them. My artist moms group, Maker Mamas, is in the midst of creating something special. (More on that, later.) I am making connections and enjoying meaningful conversations. I am praying. I am supported and loved and known.
Best of all, I am filled with awe. Awe for my children. Their beauty and sweet spirits. The shape of their eyes and the pitch of their laughter. The purity of their needs. The lessons they impart if I pay attention. Awe for this city. A city of transplants and foreigners and art and technology. For the friendly people who comfort me when my daughter pitches a fit and the open people who share their stories so willingly. Awe for my privilege. That I live here in this year in this place with these people. That I get to write words people read. That my family is healthy. That I have good food available whenever I want it. That I get to sit in a steam room every now and then. Awe for my relationships. For the love that bounces among us.
The understanding seems to be slow in coming, but it’s coming. There is a richness to the chaos. There is a purpose to the falling. There is a method to the madness, so to speak. There are people who can help you, if you ask. There is a divine intelligence at work, but it cannot be directed, it can only provide direction.
Some days are nuts. Some days we are in it. This is good. This is where we are supposed to be. Even if it’s the bathroom floor.
“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work, it means to still be in the midst of those things & be calm in your heart” – Unknown