Like half (or more) of Americans, I am trying to lose some weight this month/year. 2009 was so busy and stressful, 30 pounds crept on. I had gotten up to the weight I was at 42 weeks pregnant; talk about depressing. None of my clothes fit, I went out and bought a couple pair of pants and they were a size I'd not seen before. Now, I usually don't typically get wrapped up in my weight, or diets. I have an ~8 lb window that I bounce around in, but right now I am way over that window. Even now though, I feel like I look pretty OK, my husband tells me I'm totally hot every day, my self esteem is intact... I just don't feel great at this weight. So, I've started running. Running is always my go-to; I was an avid runner in my teens and early 20s. My MIL gave us her treadmill, which is now in my basement, and I've been climbing on for 30 minutes 5-6 times per week. It feels terrific. I feel terrific. I can't believe how my energy level has picked up, and my daily anxiety has subsided significantly. I've never enjoyed running as much as I am right now, probably because it used to feel like a chore but now it feels like an escape. Some ME time. A chance to clear my head and do something that puts me in a good mood for hours. Whenever I'm in a good exercise phase, my eating improves because I don't want to un-do my work. So I've been eating better (but nothing extreme) as well: bonus.
So today, as I moved from warm up speed to high(er) speed and started to get into my groove I found myself thinking about Balance. What an incredible task it is to find balance as a mother, especially a working mother. Jeb is now 2 years and 1 month old, and I feel like I am just now settling into a rhythm; I am just now juggling all the balls with some success at keeping them all in the air. Twenty five months this has taken me. In all my naivete, I thought by 3 months old it would be old hat. Ha! Although, had someone told me it would take 25, I probably would have punched them out of frustration. It could possibly have happened a bit sooner had we not moved 500 miles and started a business last Spring, but who knows.
As I thought more about Balance, I tried to figure out the how? and the why? because, well, I had 24 more minutes left on the tread mill. As a newborn and infant, Jeb required 90% of my everything. My physical energy, my mental energy, my time, my boobs, my sleep, my attention. I tried to divide my other 10% amongst: work, husband, self, house, misc. This was difficult and really, impossible, because giving 2% each to the other demands is essentially giving ZERO. It was also impossible because I could barely think straight let alone figure out what it meant to give 2% to my husband etc. Oh, and if it happened to be nephew/aunt/mom's birthday this week? Forget it, buying a card and present and getting it mailed took all of that left over 10%. So, I spent most of the first year in absolute un-Balance, and feeling really shitty about it. Everyone else seemed to have it together so much better! Other babies slept through the night! Other women enjoyed going to work! Other couples were going on dates! Well, I can't speak to any of them. Maybe they were fudging the facts, or maybe they weren't. I soon learned that the 3.5% of energy it took to compare myself to them wasn't worth it, since it could be used to scrub a toilet or mail a birthday card.
Things got better in year 2, despite the half dozen major life changes we took on. I stopped crying when I went to work. Husband and I had more time together as Jeb got a little more independant; and by this I mean Jeb would play with a toy for 15 minutes while we had a conversation as B cooked dinner and I wrote out the bills. Whatever, it felt like progress. Unfortunately the 'self' category always gets pushed down to the bottom of the list. Here is where my beloved tread mill re-enters the conversation. For the first time since Jeb has been born, I am carving out a little time to do something for myself. (You know, just like the parenting magazines say to do in a 4 sentence paragraph that addresses NONE of the other realities of what it takes to be a mom. But, I digress...) It's not a once-every-other-month outing with the girls, which really only ever served to make me miss my care-free spontaneous lifestyle. It's not a play date where another mom and I scream over the din discussing molars and bowel patterns. (Although, I really do love play dates.) It's 30 minutes for me to do something that makes me feel physically great and mentally recharged. And! And! It's guilt free because it's in my basement! I don't have to leave the family for an hour or more to go to the gym, feeling like I'm away from Jeb for even more time. It's Balance. For the first time, I feel like I am present at work and able to do my job well. I feel completely connected to my husband and both of our relationship needs are being met; we are in 'team' mode and operating like clock work. I know Jeb is thriving, and has fun every day. My house is in pretty good order; not perfect, but clean and mostly organized. Birthday cards are sent, and it's not an entire day's excursion. Of course things will come up and temporarily disrupt the precious balance, but I also now have an appreciation for the fact that most issues are not catastrophic, and order will return.
Ironically, this new found calm leaves me thinking: We should have another baby!
Haha, not for some time though. I'm really really really looking forward to a year filled with Balance, time with my husband and son, and a rhythm of just living.