And there you have it.

Balance, the myth and the wonder.

When I was home full-time, my house was a mess. I had days of complete shut-down. I’d be in my pajamas, working constantly and unwilling to work on myself. Showering was optional. The laundry would get done. The chaos would swirl as swiftly as I let it. I was so busy keeping people alive; literally catching children as they jumped off of counters that were too high for them to climb. It was all or nothing. At the end of the day, I’d collapse into a pile of flannel and think about what I’d accomplished. We all lived another day. Success.

I’m at work full-time now. My house is a mess. The laundry trails down stairways, but, my hair looks awesome. I’m working constantly and not showering isn’t an option anymore. I have to look presentable even while my home life resembles ancient ruins. Something resembling organization once happened here. Now, it’s the constant clicking of a clock telling us we’re late…again. We’re always late and it’s bills I find under other neglected mail and they are, for the first time in years, well, what do you know…late. It’s missed doctors appointments and mildew on a shower curtain that I painfully and purposefully ignore; hoping I find some internal well of give-a-shit that loves bleach and the pride that comes after cleaning things.

I’ve been on this hamster wheel for a long time and I’ve begged the universe, internet and friends for answers. Balance…I want it. I need it. It doesn’t fucking exist.

The thing about this whole idea of being everywhere and everything to everyone at the same time OR, the further idea of doing pieces of all of these things in a timely manner and, by the way, exceptionally well is my own personal, pretty unicorn.

It’s like someone once wrote on my brain with permanent marker: “Balance is rewarded to those who try the mostest hardest!” and I’ve been staring at this unkind graffiti for so long that I actually believe it.

Because if I just worked harder or longer or cleaned more efficiently or ate more locally sourced food or gave more of my income to charity or knew more about the political landscape or stopped buying Honey Nut Cheerios or invested in the right pair of jeans for my ass size, I’d be a better person. I’d be a more balanced person.

But, despite the brainffiti, the thing that life and this world keep telling me is that in order to do something, you must give something else up and when you give something up, you can’t be expected to find some sort of suppressed ZEN in doing something you once did really well in a really half assed way. You can’t do all things well because the world gives and takes and perfection must always be denied. Because we’re human and it needs to be this way for us to grow.

I imagine that one day my house will be incredibly clean and I’ll have really nice stoneware. I imagine we’ll travel and eat fancy cheese and maybe one or both of us will have gotten our shit together enough to have a viable retirement plan. I can see this. And, I can also see that my kids will be gone and a part of me will probably really want to see dirty socks trailing down my stairs. But, you can’t have it all. Balance is absurd.

Right now, I just want to figure out how to grocery shop on a Wednesday instead of a Saturday and how to make sure we don’t get down to just one diaper before realizing we’re also out of toilet paper.

It’s just going to have to be chaos and no matter how desperately I look for balance, it’s never going to return my calls.

It would probably call right at dinner and try to sell me something anyway.


  1. Yep, I swear there’s so balance anywhere, or of there is it’s been hiding from me for so long I wouldn’t recognize it anyway.

  2. Balance-schmalance. I love your writing. It is gut punchingly beautiful.

  3. God, yes. To all of this. Except that I make good cheese happen. Nothing else happens well or often, except good cheese. Really freaking awesome cheese.

    Hang in there. When we have breakfast, there are always dinner dishes and scattered homework pages on the table. Always. I try to grab the almost-empty wine glass off the table before they sit down to bagels, but…

  4. What balance we have comes from outnumbering our offspring and working from home. Even so, I totally bounced a check to the oil burner people last week and there is never, ever not something in my kitchen sink.

    Also your hair is perfect.

  5. This is perfect. Maybe you can singlehandedly end the stupid mommy wars about who has it hard the WOHM or the SAHM. (Yeah, just tackle that in your free time.) The truth is that someone is always giving up something. It is just different somethings.

  6. I’m so used to being unbalanced that if, by some miracle, I DID find some balance I would tip the hell right over.

  7. So, so well-expressed. I think most of us have guzzled the Kool Aid that tells us we can work outside the home and inside the home (and on ourselves, and nurture our friendships, and have hot sex on the daily), and the fact is we’re lucky if we can do 1/3 of that on any given week. I’m hoping to come to accept that sometimes I’ll feel great about meeting a work deadline but crappy that it meant I didn’t come downstairs and see my kids until 7:30, and then there will be another day when I’m stressed that I didn’t get enough work done but I have the warm fuzzies of an evening playing with my kids. There will be days when I didn’t call my mom like I was supposed to, but I *did* shower, and days when I carve time away from a craft project I really wanted to do to give my husband some much-needed lovin’. Maybe the secret is that the balance is long term – the days are all completely lopsided and wonky, but when we step back and look at the years they all tend to even out. I hope.

  8. I JUST saw this clip of Elizabeth Gilbert talking about the same thing:
    You are so right – there is no balance. There is no perfection (nor should there be).
    But Hollow Tree Ventures also nailed it, I think, when she wondered if the balance was in the long term.
    I have to believe that’s right.
    Big picture.
    Long view.
    Thanks for your beautiful, honest writing – as always, Bethany.

  9. I refer to this as the Spock’s Brain syndrome. When we perform as Spock’s brain for the world in which we exist, the lack of “balance” we feel is an understandable byproduct of having lost a connection to the body.I have to regularly remind myself the Bradys didn’t have balance, they had Alice. Without Alice, I can only hope that one day my efforts to gently push the young life around me towards self-sufficiency will result in my being able to end my out-of-body experience. Spock only had 24 hours – I figure a typical mother needs about twenty four years.

  10. Wow. This is one of my absolute favorites. So true, so honest, so damn real. Thank you. (And your hair does look fantastic.)

  11. I’ve got nothing to add, but AmazonFresh. Look into it. Its worth it! No more grocery trips for us!

Speak Your Mind