Balance Beams at Summer’s End

A Confession:

Lately I feel as though I’ve been walking a balance beam–clumsily and epically unsuccessfully.

Locked between walls of my own architecture and construction, I find myself scurrying from thing 1 to thing 2, trying to fit it all in, trying to do more and do it all better.  There was the new washing machine to buy, laundry toppling under its own weight, meals not made due to shopping not done, football practice to drive to and violin practice to slog through.  Fighting kids and flies in the house and an old dog with an open sore…[exhale]…I have to say, this pace does not bring peace.

Screen doors open and slam and open and slam.  The phone rings and interrupts. Bills arrive.  Kids need snacks [see “grocery not done” above] and a small screaming voice reminds me that buns must be wiped post haste. My life seems to be defined by the number of times per day I unload the dishwasher or brush crumbs from the counter and into my waiting hands.  It’s never. done.

In short, I am beating the wind in this struggle.  If I stay home to polish the silver, shine shoes, and attend to the lime buildup in my shower, my precious little darlings drive me BONKERS.  If I go to the zoo/museum/store, weaving my way through several zip codes and traffic lights–offering my children the very best in wholesale shopping freebies–I feel the very life drain from my being as though daylight itself has become a condition to endure until I can pass out on the couch at dusk; reaching for the remote control masquerades as a lifeline to nirvana.

Pass the wine.

Now, I know some of you are probably thinking, “It’s the end of summer.  Those feelings are understandable!  We’re clinging to the promise of the merciful yellow angel chugging down the block, whisking our children off to their heavenly oasis: school.”


Yet I still have a nagging in my spirit that says:  Is this really how life should be?

In her fantastic book, Bittersweet, which I’m thrilled to be reviewing for you on September 1, Shauna Niequist explores this very idea in her chapter entitled: Things I Don’t Do.  In it she confesses that she is bound to list making, often making lists into task-masters they were never intended to be.  During dinner with a dear friend, she heard words that reshaped her thinking, and by extension, reshaped mine:

“It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about.

What’s hard…is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to

do the things you really care about.” [pg 54].

Isn’t that so true??

Here I am stuffing my days with nit-picking minutia, dragging my children all over kingdom-come, or alternately, allowing my emotions to dictate the atmosphere on my days at home, when really, I need to figure out what I want our family life to be like, and what needs to go in order to get there.

If I allow our days and evenings to become bloated with activities and exhausting busy work, that’s my choice.

If I would, however, give myself permission to be quiet…

To sit.

To examine.

To pray.

To take an ever-loving BREAK…

Maybe I’d be able to more clearly separate the grain from the chaff.

Perhaps I’d more readily pinpoint and highlight the ways in which my choices have made this balance beam so tiring and discouraging.

So for tomorrow and the day after, my list will read as follows:

#1.  Figure out what matters.

and with God’s help…

#2.  Do it.

Readers, are you feeling the balance beam struggle in your home right now?  Please share…and encourage.

This entry was posted in Chores/Duties/Jobs, CRAZY kids, Discipline Issues, Family, Growing Pains, Home, Kids, Matters of the Heart, Motherhood/Mommy Duties, Rants, Seasons of Life, Summer. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Balance Beams at Summer’s End

  1. Mackenzie says:

    I DO feel the balance beam struggle in my life right now! But I don’t think I could explain it as beautifully as you! You are an incredible writer. I love to read your posts.

    I feel a little guilty ‘feeling the struggle’ though – as I have THREE less children than you do – totaling zero children… 🙂 But I do agree. I’ll never fit it all in. So I’ll commit to doing the same – figuring out what matters, and with God’s help, doing it.

  2. Val says:

    I love this post.

    I just listened to Shauna on Midday yesterday and was also really struck by her thoughts on “Things I Don’t Do”. I seriously think we should start a support group to help each other define and stick to what these things are for us. I think making this list would really help me, but I struggle with so much mommy guilt that I also think it would be a really hard thing to do and feel ok about. So, the “Things I Don’t Do” support group, and perhaps a book group to read and discuss Bittersweet? 🙂

  3. Pingback: Bittersweet, by Shauna Niequist | Admissions of a Suburban Philosopher

  4. Pingback: Bittersweet, Shauna Niequist | Admissions of a Suburban Philosopher

  5. Pingback: Bittersweet, by Shauna Niequist | Admissions of a Suburban Philosopher

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