I balanced the children on either side of the seesaw and told them not to move. I just wanted that one picture. As I got all of the settings right on my camera and was about to snap the picture, my oldest son — who had been balancing the seesaw — lifted his feet and smiled as the other side lifted into the air.
The children all giggled while I sighed in exasperation. All I wanted was one decent picture that wasn’t 10 years old to hang on my wall.
“Knock it off!”
My son made an attempt at being somber, “Sorry, Mom.”
“Ok, now everybody smile,” I said with a sad attempt at happy.
I snapped away, begging the baby to look at the camera the whole time. I finally declared that I was done and let everybody pile off carefully, asking my son to keep the seesaw balanced. My daughter, the second-to-last one off, hopped off too quickly and sent my eldest crashing to the ground with the sudden unexpected drop.
He hopped up rubbing his backside and yelled at his sister. My brilliant picture idea was maybe not so brilliant.
In thinking back on that day and remembering how important it was to find balance for those few moments, I realized how important that same balance is in my family and in myself. It is precarious and when I lift my feet even a little I can send my world off kilter. If I shove something off the other end of my imaginary seesaw, it will likewise send me crashing to the ground.
As a mother, I felt for a long time that I couldn’t possibly have personal goals because it would send the family out of balance. But over the last few years, I find that I am more in balance when I am satisfied with my life, thus creating more balance for my family. If I spend a few moments writing, because that is my passion, then I find more joy in my children. If I go for a run, I come back renewed and energized and I have more to give. Every one of us has a different set of things that will balance our families and ourselves. The key is to find what those things are.
It is a precarious balance, though. If I spend too much time writing, the children will tear apart the house or each other, or both. I have to make them the priority, but I am also important because I am their mother.
Can you feel that slight shift in the seesaw? Can you feel your feet lifting?
I can. Every day. Some days everything is in sync and we are balanced, and I am balanced. But that is the funny thing about balance. It isn’t something that happens and stays that way. It requires constant attention and maintenance. Each time I feel myself crashing to the ground, I let out a yell, reassess, and then hop back on and try to find that sweet spot one more time.
This year, one of my three focus words is balance. By having that one word as my focus, I hope to find balance within myself and within my family. I want to find that sweet spot.