The Backwoods

Where we teeter between our love of modern convenience and the yearning for something long past; a world where neighbors knew your name and a “Friend Request” was eye contact and a smile.

A Balance Point

Posted · 13 Comments

Lately I find myself in a sort of evaluation of priorities in which I stop…look around…take a breath…and consider my life from an outside perspective.  I call it…readjusting my motor.  Because going full speed ahead is not always the right way to go…if you are pointed in the wrong direction.

And somehow I need to find a balance between what I dearly love…and what I dearly love.

Another Fall season has come and gone as I drive repeatedly by the riverbanks where fly fisherman cast silent wisps upon the surface, the fading orange leaves reflecting spirals off the water as the fish nip at false hope.  And every year I say, “I’ll photograph that scene next year…”

Months ago I picked up some fabric to make Mya some skirts and it sits in a heap in the corner, a reminder of lost priorities, overscheduling…promises made and never kept.  Nearby on the couch a mountain of clean laundry, sorted, slowly disappears and reinvents itself as socks are dug out, worn, and returned to the most reliable cycle of life in a parent’s world.

My garage overflows with woodworking tools from chainsaw carving to scroll saw detailers…coated in sawdust, layers of forgotten moments in time when I snuck in spare seconds of my own and shined at the result.  Scraps of summertime, left unfinished on the concrete floor.  Maybe next year, I say with a sigh as I pass through on my way to some chore.

The to-do list grows and dishes heap as we spend our days in the mountains and the cabin roof goes slowly into place between volleyball tournaments, basketball practices and swimming pool parties.

And speaking of parties…Destini’s eighteenth birthday came and went, Anthony’s eleventh tomorrow and no party planned, no big event scheduled to celebrate those years that will never be again. And why?  Because time has once again gotten the best of us…won that everlasting battle.  Next year we’ll fight the same war…and lose again.  Oh, they get their gifts, they have their fun with friends…but did I take the time to sit, to stare at the awesomeness that is their special day and tuck it away in the memory banks? No…because the day Destini spiraled into adulthood I slaved away in the home economics room cooking meals for her volleyball tournament.  No doubt, she needed that more than she needed my overbearing motherly attention but still, the moment is gone forever.  There will be no next year for that particular event.  It’s gone.

How do we find that place…that even plateau between what we ‘have’ to do and what we ‘want’ to do?  And is there even such a realm for parents?  Are we destined to a purgatory of half-to’s until the little buggers are out of the nest, and then do we plunge into grandparent duties with the same vigor and sometimes hidden resentment at our own lost sense of self?

This morning I noticed in the task bar at the bottom of my computer there were no Word pages, no half-finished writings waiting a closing argument.  No lists of things to say or unformatted ideas where nine or more documents normally await completion.  Not even one.

Just one more thing I love…given up for something I love.  Oh, to have more hours in the day.

I think there must be a balance somewhere, a tilting point where the have-to’s and the must-do’s find a resting place where both sides are equally attended and nobody loses out…not even me.  But I, like most parents out there who struggle to find that happy place, have yet to find it.

Finding the balance may be the single most important skill we ever learn.  Without it, we are just skidding out of control in one direction, looking over our shoulder at the things that passed us by, and thinking, “I’ll do that next year…”

And so I Flintstone feet myself to a screeching halt, lift my vehicle and point it in another direction. Shift down into first gear, putter along until I find the right path…and take off again at full speed ahead, dodging brick walls and stop signs, until the next five-way intersection comes along…and then I’ll stop, re-evaluate my direction, and start all over again.

13 Responses to "A Balance Point"
  1. Lks says:

    Keri, I find this another great read, no suprise!  What does amaze me, is that it comes from you because I think you do so much of this right.  I am sure you can’t get it all done, but you do SO MUCH = and most people just talk about what you put into action.  You are the person that most of us would look to where to steer our ship, which direction to point and what matters the most.  I know you are not perfect, but you clearly put first what matters. 

  2. Elfie_laa says:

    Stuff comes in cycles. The problem is when our enthusiasm has rotated to the far end of our reach on the lazy susan of life, we still have the STUFF on our plate. There’s no solution. Embrace not the chaos, but the essence!

  3. Juliaburns2007 says:

    Choose that which is most important. Let your kids choose what is most important to them. Then, move forward without regrets for whatever didn’t make the cut. I have a large brood of 5 – things are different for moms like us. We are forced to make more cuts for the benefit of the whole group. But in return we teach teamwork, sacrifice, and responsibility as our little ones learn earlier to do more for themselves. There is no nirvana, no perfect balance. It’s whatever works for you and yours at the time. At some point, your bet has to be good enough. When you reach that point, then there is less struggle. Accepting our limitations releases us. Accepting the fact that all parents everywhere are doing the best they can with what they have, just like you and me and our mothers before us, is tough to do but we need to try.

  4. Zenmom79 says:

    We were in that same boat for years. We started learning more about minimalism. The more you let go of things, the most important things come alive. You find that you have more time on your hands for the super important, rather than things. Your true loves come out of hiding. I used to love photography. I found that while I loved taking the pictures and looking at them, I rarely looked at them again. Rather than going out to take pictures, I would walk with my daughter and have a conversation about the colors and things I was seeing. Man, those lead to some pretty deep memorable conversations. The funny thing is: When you start getting rid of “things”, time, energy and relationships develop. You find your “true” hobbies that you love. You find life again. Minimalism is not easy, especially with kids. It is something to consider. I thought it was crazy when I first heard about it. You find more balance than anything. I am nearly as minimalist as I wish I was. Eventually I will be. For now, I enjoy the minimalism with kids.

    • backwoodsmomak says:

      You have no idea how much you hit the nail on the head here…this has been my exact thought for quite some time. The trouble is…acting on it. 😉 haha  I’ve spent the last 6-8 months weeding out and hauling away. Just now I read this post on my phone while sorting clothes on my bed…and you have inspired me to once again grab trashbags and thin out even further.  Thanks for that…sometimes we need the shove off the cliff…  

  5. I think we all have list of thing we haven’t gotten around to doing. My Son just turned 12 and I never painted that mural on his bedroom wall like I was going to do when he was little. truthfully I haven’t painted anything in years and I love to paint. We never went camping again this year, third year in a row. The list is so long, like the pool we have never put in, or the anniversaries my husband and I  never celebrated.  Truthfully I could cry just thinking about it all but then I stop and try to reassure myself that the list of things I did do was just as long and just as important. 

    • Karla in Colorado says:

      “…the list of things I did do was just as long and just as important.”  That’s the key — to remember the things that DID happen!!  It’s all too easy to list what you regret not having done because it seems the longer list; you must make the effort to reward and applaud the experiences you did create for your family… they’re priceless!!!

    • My husband and I flat our forgot our anniversary two years in a row! ha Time to prioritize…

  6. LRbassistmom says:

    Surely, you don’t think that you are along in this?!  This is my struggle as well. Finding the time to balance the have-tos with the want-tos would be the easy part… for me the struggle is finding the quiet guilt-free place in my head where the creativity is given space to breathe. What crowds out the breathing room is lists, schedules, demands…

    You are not alone.

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