February 3, 2011

The Struggle and the Balance

I walked in the door after meeting with a writing client and his wife. I was in writing mode, pumped up, ready to dig in and get some serious work done. It would be easy; it always is when I’m in that frame of mind.

But my daughter had something else on her mind. Would I take her to the fabric store to get some scraps for the rag rug she’s making?


This would be such a prime time to get some writing done and I knew it would come easily and efficiently, much easier than it does when I have to prime the pump. But my daughter is my first priority, above my work. And I’m keenly aware than in just a few short years she will be off to college, not here to ask for my time.


If I said yes to writing I’d feel guilty the whole time and my efficiency would go down the drain. If I said yes to my daughter, I’d never be able to retrieve the zone again and I’d feel guilty for not accomplishing something when I had the chance.


That’s how I live my life. Torn. This one scenario plays out day after day, only the characters and circumstances change. I want to write and produce and to have something to sell the people who always email me asking if I have another curriculum completed yet, but the reality is I’m a wife, a mother, a homemaker, a homeschooling mom, and I still haven’t figured out how to balance it all and accomplish much. And I spend a lot of time feeling guilty because of it.


And I’m writing this because if there is anything I truly want to be on this blog it’s real. And I know a lot of you experience the same struggles in one way or another and the same feelings and the same guilt.

I wish I had pat answers for all of us: a magic schedule that allows for writing time at just the right moments, a scale that perfectly balances life for writers so that nothing is ever out of whack, or even a crystal ball that lets us know the right choice to make every time we have to decide the best way to use our time. But I’m human and I don’t have any of those things to offer.

I do, however, offer empathy. I can feel your struggles. I know them well.
And I know the answer lies in listening to the Lord. I wish I could say that I always hear Him perfectly and always know the right choice to make, but sometimes I think I need a heavenly hearing aid.

So I offer encouragement to all of you who know what it feels like to be torn. You are not alone.

P.S. I struggled more pressing "publish" on this post than any I've ever written. It feels very raw and vulnerable, maybe too transparent. But it is what it is.


Bethany from Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom said...

Ditto to EVERYTHING (right down to the trip to the fabric store!)!!! People ask me all the time how I manage to "do it all," and the answer is either not well, or I don't! It is SO HARD to find the balance. We still need to get together sometime soon!

Funky Junk Interiors said...

I feel for you Bonita. And I share the same torn feeling every minute of the day.

I write best in the AM but I'm suppose to be 'earning my keep' then. Late at night is my best time once kiddo is in bed, but then I'm too tired. Hmmm... no wonder nothing gets done!

My mentor says give our passion 10 minutes a day if that's all we have. I think I just spent it browsing the net! :) Guess time management is a bigger issue for me than I initially thought.

See? You coming clean helped me! I'm off to get to work. xo


Angel @ Finding The Inspiring said...

I hear you. Lately I have felt the pressure to produce. Like time is running out. But other things fall by the wayside when I commit to "the zone". I think you said it best when you used the word "torn". I guess there are no easy answers but to give ourselves grace and trust it will all get done - just maybe not on our timetable...

Richella said...

Raw? Yes. Vulnerable? Yes. Too transparent? NO.

From a language perspective, "transparent" is a funny word. We often use it with qualifiers, such as "very" or "really" or "too." Yet in a way it's a word that signifies something that either exists or does not exist. Either we really can see into your heart or we can't. And today you're giving us a glimpse; you're giving us a moment of actually being able to see.

What we see is the real you, torn just as we are. And we are grateful for the heart that beats with honesty and empathy.

Bless you.

ET @ Titus2:3-5 said...

I don't like meeting perfect people wearing pretty masks. Real, vulnerable, and transparent - those are qualities I search for in a friend. Thank you for sharing. Walking the fine line with you...

Gretchen said...

I'm there. So very there. Especially with two little girls and another little one on the way.

Thanks for sharing... It helps, just knowing others are there, too.

Miss Sandy said...

What this post is, is real and easy to relate to. Bravo for sharing your heart. You will never regret the time you gave to your daughter.

Linda said...

These difficult posts are usually the ones that minister to so many others. I wish I had a nickle for every time I've prayed about having balance in my life.
I am an empty-nester. I thought I would have more time at this season of my life than at any other. It simply hasn't worked out that way.
I struggle with using the time I do have wisely.

Tina said...

God created balance. He believes in order. His thoughts and ways are higher than ours. If and when we're torn, he'll heal us.

Jimmie said...

Right there with you, Bonita. A beautiful post, and I am so thankful you posted it. Every mother surely knows these feelings.

Usually we choose the child. But sometimes we choose the task at hand. Often that latter is the wrong choice.

On a beautiful day last week, I left a kitchen FULL of dirty dishes, leftovers on the table, and laundry to fold so that I could go visit with Sprite in her fort in the backyard. It was great to sit there and enjoy the warm day with her.

On our death bed, we will not say, "I wish I'd kept my house cleaner." (or read more blogs... tee hee hee)

(When I was a working mom, that torn feeling was so much worse because not only was time an issue but energy was too. So although the conflict is still there, it's much more manageable now as a SAHM.)

MarshaMarshaMarsha said...

I appreciate your transparency, Bonita! I have been torn many times and wondered if "professional" writers ever struggled in the balance of writing and life, as if they had the innate ability to push the rest of life out of their minds to focus solely on writing.

There are seasons to everything and I believe the super focused writing will have to wait while I live my life, distractions and all! :)

Southwest Cottage Designs said...

Bonita, you've expressed how I've felt many times through the years. Torn. Transparent. Vulnerable. Yes, all of those, and I love the heavenly hearing aids! I homeschooled my daughter for several years and relate so well to your article. Yesterday I felt torn for a different reason. My daughter, now grown and on her own, was traveling in the ice and snow across the country from me. Again, I felt torn. I couldn't fix it for her or kiss it and make it better. But there is One in whom I trust whose wings protect my "little one". His feathers shield her, and in that I am comforted. Have a blessed day!

Paige said...

Fantastic, just beautifully fantastic! I've been struggling with balancing writing and sick children. I'm so far behind my goals, but this post reminded me that the most important thing has been accomplished. My children know that I love them and will be there for them when they need me. Thanks so much for writing this!

Kay said...

The more transparent you are as a writer, the more relief others of us can have in our struggles. "What? You mean someone who has published a curriculum and taught writing, etc., still struggles with how to do everything else, too?" Truly, it's a breath of fresh air.

Thanks for sharing. By the way, kick the guilt out the door. It does no good - just steals from the fullness of the moments with your daughter (or anyone else).

Marilyn Yocum said...

The posts we find hard to finally hit 'publish' on are usually the most important ones of all.

After years of writing and teaching, kids under foot and kids gone, competing demands coming and going etc., one thing I know for sure - and YOU have stated it here - is that no single, perfect answer exists. And anyone who says, "You know what you ought to do is...." is in dangerous territory. Press on, gently!

Excellent post! Thank you for hitting 'publish.'

Beth said...

Have you been reading my mind?? Pretty darn timely post, Bonita :-)

Anonymous said...

I am right there with you! I find that to be able to sit and focus on my writing without feeling guilty for neglecting my family I have to stay up very late at night. Then I'm too exhausted to think, and I still feel guilty for staying up late and not getting enough sleep to be well rested for the next day. I am grateful for this post and the truth that I am not alone in this push-me-pull-you dance. :)

Scooper said...

You are writing the words of my everyday. Thank you for this. This world needs "transparent."