Does Balance Even Exist?

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I’m tired. I’ve been tired for several weeks now. At first, it was trying to manage a 40 hr work week, maintaining my home, and training. I kept telling myself it would get better once I was at home full time. Then it was the move. Spending what felt like every free moment packing, the rush to get everything moved, and then the long hours unpacking. I told myself things would get better once everything was unpacked.

Not that the house is completely settled, but it’s feeling more like home. There are fewer boxes laying around, I finally have a counter cleared in the kitchen for cooking, and the laundry is getting done on a regular basis. Life feels a little more normal, but I’m still tired.

Nick was talking to me the other night about trying to find balance with work and home. As a pastor, the job is never really done. There is always another person who could use a visit, a sermon to outline, vision to be cast; considering it a 40 hr work week is kind of a joke. It’s hard for him to come home and not be thinking about the church. And it’s hard for him to emotionally invest in the church all day and come home motivated to work around the house. I listened to what he was saying and sympathized. This is new territory for him compared to working at Starbucks where, when he clocked out, he could come home and not be on the job.

After that conversation, I was able to see how much I was struggling with that exact same issue. My job is now my home. I am a full time caretaker of my child and house. For me, the work day starts when I wake and finishes when I go to sleep. I never leave work, not in the physical, emotional, or mental sense of the word. And when 5pm hits, it just means I’ve entered the nightshift. There is still work to be done.

I’m so tired from trying to work all the time. My home is no longer a place of rest for me, but a place where there is always something to be cleaned, prepared, or created. Each job that I’ve had, there was a clear sense of when the day was over. Either I would complete all of my tasks or I would reach the time my shift was scheduled to end. That’s no longer the case and I have no idea how to adjust.

So this morning I did something that felt uncomfortable. I resisted the urge to start tackling my long to-do list and, after I put Milo down for his nap, I sat down with a cup of coffee and a book. I did something out of sheer pleasure, not necessity or boredom but because I wanted to. It felt weird. The struggle will be to maintain this kind of balance each day. To carve out time of leisure in the face of all that could be done.

It’s a struggle I know I’m not alone in. And it’s one that is not isolated to stay-at-home parents. This search for balance does not discriminate, it just looks different in each of our lives. On my quest for balance I’ll be praying for yours as well.

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